India’s Digital Public Infrastructure: Global Model for Innovation

Nilekani’s Insights on DPI’s Global Impact and Climate Solutions

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India’s Digital Public Infrastructure: Global Model for Innovation
  • India’s DPI Model Heading to 50 Countries
  • DPI’s Role in Resilience and Circular Economy
  • India’s Unique Governance Approach

27th August 2023,Mumbai: India’s digital public infrastructure is gaining global recognition, Nilekani said, noting there is a major move afoot to take this model to 50 countries. The approach of Digital Public Infrastructure, which has gained global prominence, can also help in the area of climate adaptation and mitigation going forward, Chairman and Co-Founder of Infosys and the founding Chairman of UIDAI, Nandan Nilekani said on Sunday.

India’s digital public infrastructure (DPI) is creating waves globally, with plans to expand its successful model to 50 countries in the near future. Nilekani, a pioneer in India’s digital transformation, highlighted the potential of DPI, emphasizing its relevance in addressing climate challenges.

Global Interest in Digital Infrastructure

Many multilateral agencies and global groups are coming forward and showing interest, and the next few years will see proliferation and prevalence of digital infrastructure at population-scale around the world. The world is taking notice, with international organizations and groups expressing interest in India’s digital infrastructure model. The coming years are poised for a global surge In population-scale digital infrastructure.

DPI: A Tool for Climate Adaptation

Going forward, the approach of digital public infrastructure can also help in climate adaptation and mitigation, Nilekani said. “For example, one of the things which will happen in climate adaptation is you want to give anticipatory financing for building more resilient homes, in anticipation of higher sea levels etc. And you can do that using DPI or using ONDC (Open Network for Digital Commerce), another great innovation to create an open network for commerce, we can create a circular economy where things get recycled,” he said.

DPI isn’t just a solution for the present; it holds the key to future challenges, including climate adaptation. Nilekani pointed out how DPI can facilitate anticipatory financing for climate-resilient infrastructure and promote circular economies.

Balancing Regulation and Innovation

Hence, not only has DPI has helped so far, it will also be useful in the future. DPI presents a unique challenge for societies, but India has successfully balanced regulation and innovation, setting an example for other nations. While the US is increasingly focusing on regulation, Europe struggles to foster innovation amidst a web of regulations.

India’s Model of Balanced Governance

In India, we have found the balance between regulation and innovation because of the participatory model of coordinated governance from the central government, from the regulators like the Reserve Bank, technology companies and the private sector, everybody has come together to create an architecture which finds the balance between innovation and regulation,” he said. India’s participatory governance model involving the government, regulators, tech companies, and the private sector has created an architecture that encourages innovation while ensuring responsible regulation.

Digital Transformation Driving Economic Growth

India has transformed in many ways, and this digital transformation is at the heart of economic growth. Digital transformation is the engine driving India’s economic growth. The country is transitioning from an offline, informal, low-productivity landscape to a single online, formal, high-productivity mega-economy.

The Power of Digital Public Infrastructure

Digital public infrastructure has extended the ability of the country to use digital technology at population scale to transform society, and involves a number of building blocks. DPI comprises multiple building blocks, each excelling in its domain but interconnected to create population-scale solutions. India’s successes with Aadhaar, UPI, and Aadhaar KYC for banking and mobile inclusion showcase the power of this approach.

Financial Inclusion at Scale

India has achieved in nine years what would otherwise have taken 47 years by traditional means, he said pointing to the financial inclusion acceleration that has been triggered by the rapid digitisation. UPI has scaled up from 100,000 transactions a month in October 2016, to become the world’s largest payment system with 9.66 billion transactions per month, 350 million users, and 50 million merchant acceptance. India’s rapid digitization has propelled financial inclusion. UPI’s exponential growth demonstrates how DPI can accelerate financial services accessibility.

Unlocking Digital Capital

India’s data empowerment architecture allows every individual and business to use digital footprint, giving rise to a whole new idea of “digital capital”. India’s data empowerment framework empowers individuals and businesses to harness their digital presence, paving the way for the concept of “digital capital.”

A New Grand Bargain for Inclusive Society

According to Nilekani, the powerful mix of digital capital and DPI is paving the way for a “new grand bargain” that fosters an inclusive society. The synergy between digital capital and DPI is forging a path towards a new societal contract—one that prioritizes inclusivity and innovation.

-by Kashvi Gala

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