India to grow into a powerhouse of digitization: Sydney Dialogue

In the Prime Minister’s view, digitization has a role in complementing the growth of democracy, security and prosperity

November 22, 2021

The Prime Minister highlighted advancements in Public Infrastructure, e-governance, startup ecosystem and telecommunications.

99% of citizens above the age of 18 hold Aadhar cards as of June 2021, marking a major success for UIDAI.

India has become the third largest startup ecosystem in the world with 21 unicorns and 50 soonicorns in 2021.

The Agriculture and Manufacturing sectors are the two leading adopters of smart technology in multiple areas of operation.

The increased adoption of technological solutions is expected to strengthen India’s commitment towards digital sovereignty, manufacturing prowess, citizen empowerment and youth empowerment.  Prime Minister Modi indicated India’s willingness to collaborate with international allies in the interest of shared security and prosperity, remarking “India’s digital revolution is rooted in our democracy, our demography, and the scale of our economy. It is powered by enterprise and innovation of our youth. We are turning the challenges of the past into an opportunity to take a leap into the future”

Some of the potential areas of collaboration mentioned by Prime Minister Modi include cybersecurity, governance, data protection, supply chain management and manufacturing. The Prime Minister also called for provisions to increase security protocols in connection with cryptocurrency use as it has gained popularity among the youth. 

Strengthening Public Infrastructure information 

The BharatNet project launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to give 6.3 lakh villages in India access to internet services by the year 2023. As of 2021, 1.5 lakh Gram Panchayats have been covered under the ambit of the project and tenders have been released for Public Private Partnerships (PPP) aimed at covering the remaining amount of villages through optical fiber technology. The effort will be led by the Bharat Broadband Network Limited. 

Digital payments through the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) have increased significantly over the lockdown period, amounting to more than 4 billion transactions as of October 2021. Transactions worth US$ 93 billion (Rs 7.71 trillion) have taken place so far, marking a new record. 

The use of digital technology for public services 

E-governance is an important priority for the Government of India and significant progress has been made in terms of digitizing aspects of governance. The National e-Governance Service Delivery Index Assessment (NeSDA) for 2021 has placed Kerala, Goa, Haryana, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh among the top five in terms of delivering public services to members of the public. 

As of June 2021, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) reported that 99% of the net adult population in India have been enrolled under the Aadhar card scheme. The entity documents that 13.7 lakh Indians above the age of 18 currently hold Aadhar Cards. 

Growth of the Startup Ecosystem

India currently has the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world with 21 unicorns in total and a pipeline of 50 soonicorns that are expected to become unicorns in 2022. Startups are seen to have raised US$ 9.3 billion in funding as of December 2020, signaling a gradual recovery from the impact of the pandemic. Increased digitization coupled with the growth of the Information Technology ecosystem and a rise in spending patterns have fueled the growth of the startup ecosystem. In addition to the three key startup hubs of Mumbai, Delhi NCR and Bengaluru, India is also home to emerging hubs such as Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata and Hyderabad.

Digitization across multiple sectors of the economy

The Agriculture and Manufacturing sector are key adopters of technology in multiple aspects of operations in recent years.  With the onset of the pandemic, communication and payment-oriented technologies have seen increased adoption among Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME). The startup ecosystem has also stepped in to enable farmers to access real-time information about soil quality, crop yield and potential for disease through the aid of drone and AI/ML technologies. Furthermore, technological interventions to improve agricultural supply chains have also made their impact on the sector. 

Rollout of 5G technology

As per a Parliamentary panel report, 5G services will be rolled out early in 2022 as 4G services are to resume for the forthcoming four-five years. The Department of Telecommunications has earmarked labs for the testing of 5G services in the domains of fintech, education, public safety and agriculture. Private services are expected to commence trials in the near future. 

The wave of digital transformation will continue making further inroads into multiple sectors of the economy. With the support of well-integrated policies and effective frameworks of implementation, India can be expected to grow into a powerhouse of digitization.