Mint Explainer: Why India is stressing on data at G20

G20 may just be the right forum to brainstorm a collective and cohesive approach to data analytics.
G20 may just be the right forum to brainstorm a collective and cohesive approach to data analytics.


  • Big data analytics will lift emerging economies and aid the Indian tech sector.

'Data for development' will be an integral part of the overall theme of India's G20 presidency. It appears to be a well thought-out move. Big data analytics and legacy-data mining are expected to help developing countries grow faster, reduce economic disparities, ensure equitable growth and meet UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) faster. It also opens up a world of opportunities for Indian tech industry and institutions. India will capture 32% of the exploding global analytics market by 2025, says Nasscom. It appears the government wants India to become a data science hub.

How data mining can drive development

Big data analytics is expected to transform policymaking across the globe, particularly in the developing world. It's expected to be a quantum leap in poverty eradication efforts, helping meet SDG goals faster. It's potentially a game changer in health and education, making social-welfare schemes more targeted and focused.

The UN has emphasized that the data revolution is transforming society. It attributes this to new technologies for data collection and explosion of Big Data driven by Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things. Indeed, big data can now be analysed in real time, which the UN estimates can help in meeting SDGs "in a way that is both inclusive and fair".

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By making accurate estimates of the size of markets and the likely impact of welfare schemes, data analytics can make better projections for the future. Unicef's Population Data for Action is one such initiative, offering developing countries a simpler alternative to traditional census taking. According to the Unicef, "it links existing data sets with satellite imagery to estimate the number of people living in un-sampled areas". In healthcare, AI and predictive analysis can likely risks and is helping develop cancer treatments.

G20 may just be the right forum to brainstorm a collective and cohesive approach to data analytics. But that is not the only reason why the Modi government may be harping on data management at G20.

How India gains from a data analytics explosion

The world is a big market for Indian companies and tech institutes, including the prestigious IITs. Businesses are generating huge volumes of data, and are increasingly merging big data analytics into their business operations.

Indian IT giants such as TCS, infosys and Wipro have been scaling up innovation in big data, IoT and real-time analytics. India is expected to capture 32% of the global analytics market by 2025, with the total industry size at $16 billion. There have been hundreds of data science patents in India over the past few years.

There has been a surge in adoption of data analytics across industries, from BFSI and FMCG to retail. And the government too has emerged a big consumer of data services, from digitally mapping India through drones to the launch of the Aarogya Setu app during the pandemic.

With the growing demand for the application of computational data science in real-world use cases, India's tech institutes are sharpening their focus on big data analytics. IITs and IIITs have introduced programmes on data science and artificial intelligence.

Even in schools, boards like CBSE are integrating AI in high-school syllabus. The goal clearly is to make India a global big data analytics hub. By promoting the use of data sciences in development initiatives by the G20, India will hope to create a big opportunity for its tech industry.

Making data management secure, transparent

It's important for the global community to ensure a fair and transparent framework for leveraging big data globally for growth by the government and the private sector.

Most countries are building overarching frameworks on data privacy, protection and ethics, and multilateral forums like G20 and the UN offer an opportunity to evolve a cohesive global approach. India too is busy crafting a National Data Governance Framework Policy to catalyze data-led research and development, seeding a start-up ecosystem in data sciences. Meanwhile, the data protection bill hopes to make cross-border data flows easier, even as it ensures data protection and privacy. Almost 140 countries now have laws on data privacy and protection.

The world needs accurate, reliable data

For the developing world, a big challenge will be to generate reliable and accurate data, particularly for the public sector. It’s been a problem in many countries, even in a rapidly developing economy like China. Without a reliable data bank, data analytics will have limited impact and can even generate misleading trends and future projections.


* Big data will help alleviate global poverty

* The UN expects it will help meet SDG goals faster

* It opens numerous opportunities for Indian tech industry

* Most countries are building digital policy frameworks

* The emphasis must be on developing reliable, accurate data

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