‘Inevitable India' rings especially true in the world of technology | Mint

‘Inevitable India' rings especially true in the world of technology

Based on the design principles of inclusion, security and ecosystem-driven development, India’s DPI network has laid the groundwork for economic growth where no one is left behind. (AFP)
Based on the design principles of inclusion, security and ecosystem-driven development, India’s DPI network has laid the groundwork for economic growth where no one is left behind. (AFP)

Summary

  • The India Stack has worked well for digital inclusion and a principled approach to AI could give the country a key role in yet another global transformation underway.

In the early 2000s, India unveiled the globally lauded tourism campaign, “Incredible India." Fast-forward to the present. Harvard Business School posed a compelling question: If India were to initiate another global campaign today, what should encapsulate its essence? Its recommendation, “Inevitable India," carries a profound resonance with the contemporary global landscape and geopolitical dynamics.

From governments across North America, Europe and the Global South to global CEOs worldwide, the name ‘India’ is at the forefront of discussions on alliances and strategic partnerships. In a world where countries and organizations are strategically mapping their future trajectories, India emerges not just as a choice, but as an inevitability, a pivotal player in the unfolding narrative of our shared global destiny.

Goldman Sachs anticipates that India will become the world’s second-largest economy by 2075. Martin Wolf of the Financial Times projects that by 2050, India’s purchasing power will eclipse that of the US by a staggering 30%, further contributing to the aura of inevitability that is increasingly becoming synonymous with the India brand.

Viewed through the lens of technology, the idea of ‘Inevitable India’ becomes not just an obvious choice, but a compelling one. My belief is not driven solely by national pride, though that sentiment is undeniably strong. Instead, it stems from an understanding of pivotal transitions that are reshaping the global landscape and India’s unique position in each of these transformations.

Let’s first talk about the all-important digital transition, a paradigm shift that goes beyond reshaping nations and industries—it’s a complete rewriting of the rules of competition. India’s remarkable journey started with our quest to provide a unique national ID to every single citizen in the country: Aadhaar. With digital IDs now in the hands of almost 1.4 billion people, who use it daily for around 80 million transactions, India has established a formidable foundation for a genuinely inclusive digital economy.

At the core of this transformative journey is the India Stack, a groundbreaking amalgamation of digital identities, interoperable protocols for digital payments and a consent-based data layer, enabling secure data sharing based on user choice. The India Stack has evolved into the bedrock of India’s digital public infrastructure (DPI), which powers a multitude of services from financial transactions to nationwide vaccine distribution.

Based on the design principles of inclusion, security and ecosystem-driven development, India’s DPI network has laid the groundwork for economic growth where no one is left behind. Our mantra of innovating for scale at the grassroots level and then moving up, as opposed to the Western norm of top-heavy innovation that trickles down, positions India as one of the few countries realizing the vision of a truly inclusive and human-centric digital economy. Moreover, India stands alone in achieving this at the unprecedented scale we’ve demonstrated.

The driving force behind this success? A potent blend of talent, technological prowess and a can-do mindset within the dynamic Indian startup ecosystem that seized the opportunity to translate that vision into reality. None of this would have been possible without the unwavering support and visionary leadership of the government.

India’s digital transformation stands not only as the largest and most intricate case study of change that has had substantial impact, but also serves as a shining example of a win-win public-private partnership in action. It exemplifies how collaborative efforts between the government and private sector can yield transformative results, setting a global benchmark for effective cooperation and shared success.

It is very interesting to see how India is now applying the same principle to navigate the artificial intelligence (AI) transition. It is fantastic to see the country looking at emerging technologies like AI from the lens of opportunity and impact, rather than just fear and risks. Of course, it is important to ensure safety and adequate oversight. However, like we have done with DPI, the India playbook is to build safety and inclusion into the very design principles of AI. For us, it has to be about making safe AI and not making AI safe.

The second key transition is the one to clean energy. Ranked fourth on installed capacity for renewable energy like wind and solar power, India ambitiously aims for 500GW of non-fossil fuel-based energy by 2030—a major commitment declared at CoP-26 in Glasgow. With the world’s largest expansion plan for renewable energy, India has made a clear commitment to sustainable growth and expects clean sources to provide a fast increasing share of electricity.

The third key transition revolves around supply chain and geopolitical dynamics. India’s approach towards collaboration and partnerships becomes very important in this equation. Post-covid, the world has realized the risks of depending on just one country as a supply source. The focus is now shifting to regional clusters and ecosystems in individual countries. India’s role in strengthening the voice of the Global South is a strategic one and it could help redefine global trade and supply dynamics.

At the heart of turning ‘Inevitable India’ into a tangible reality lies a powerful convergence of forces, anchored by resolute and visionary leadership, the ascent of India as a reservoir of talent, the burgeoning technical prowess across the nation and the emergence of an unwavering can-do mindset among our youth. Fuelled by the dynamism of our vibrant startup and tech ecosystems and supported by robust partnerships, we stand at the precipice of turning these strategic transitions into unparalleled opportunities. This is not just a triumph for India; it’s a promise we will make a positive global impact that will be valued by people in the farthest reaches of the world.

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