About three decades ago I was working with fishermen in Kerala. In an effort to improve their yields – they only got 20% of the market price of fish – we introduced new technologies such as fiberglass boats and outboard motors and even launched auctions at the fish market. beach level.
However, the biggest challenge that persisted was to open bank accounts for fishermen in order to streamline payments. At that time, it would take us at least ten months to drive out physical banks and manage to register a single account holder. Know your customer was a foreign concept. Cut to 2021, you can walk into a bank branch and open a bank account in moments with e-KYC and biometrics. By reducing the wait time from a few months to a few minutes, digital transformation has truly enabled a paradigm shift.
Marking six years of the Digital India initiative, PM Modi aptly described this as being the techade of India. Technological advancements and rapid internet penetration have integrated over 1 billion Indian citizens into a common financial, economic and digital ecosystem.
We have the cheapest data rates in the world and almost 700 million internet users – every 3 seconds a new Indian user connects to the internet. The Union Cabinet has just approved the implementation of BharatNet through a public-private partnership in 16 states with official fiber optic connectivity to all inhabited villages.
With over a billion biometric data, over a billion mobiles and nearly a billion bank accounts, we have built the largest identification system in the world mapping the entire Indian population. To date, 1.29 billion Aadhaar IDs have been generated and 55.97 billion authentications have been performed. Bridging the gap between government and citizens has become the foundation of India’s digitization efforts.
Then there are digital payment systems. In June 2021, UPI recorded 2.8 billion transactions worth Rs 5.47 trillion. UPI now has more than double the number of transactions made by American Express worldwide. Recently, Google wrote to the US Federal Reserve, applauding the successful implementation of the UPI in India, and recommended that its Federal Reserve system be modeled on India.
The Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal has successfully leveraged technology to transform the public procurement landscape. The portal has passed the 19.17 lakh seller registration mark, roughly 5 times the number of sellers last year.
Other key examples are in health and education. In the hinterland of India, golden beneficiary cards are seen as lifesavers for many, eliminating the various pillars and positions one had to stand for for equitable access to healthcare. The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) is a unique blend of healthcare and technology that covers over 500 million citizens.
Chitrakoot in western UP, despite its development challenges, leveraged common service centers, village entrepreneurs and ASHA workers to establish an effective telemedicine delivery mechanism for all residents. As part of this intervention, patients in remote areas can benefit from specialized care without having to travel from their homes to the hospital.
Digitization and internet penetration have contributed in phenomenal ways to improving the learning outcomes of students across India. Primary schools in Nawada, a remote and ambitious neighborhood in Bihar, are home to SMART classrooms, fully equipped with digital tools and internet connectivity. The model of SMART classrooms and e-learning was quickly replicated in all states, introducing rural students to a whole new world of learning.
As India shifts from data richness to data intelligence, machine learning and AI will find solutions to many of its challenges: water availability, learning outcomes, improving increased agricultural health and productivity.
My belief is that the development of world-class technology products requires essential contributions from young data-hungry entrepreneurs and a policy environment conducive to AI. India is expected to nurture an innovative breed of company-conscious and development-oriented product managers, AI scientists, product designers and software engineers.
How we enable and empower entrepreneurship among Indians to leverage technology and data capabilities to deliver solutions not only to this country, but to the next 5 billion people around the world, who will rise from poverty to middle class status, is will be the cornerstone of the next techade Digital India.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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