In this age of rapid technological advancement, India has embarked on a remarkable journey of deploying Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) which has reshaped the nation’s socio-economic landscape.

India boasts the highest number of digital transactions, surpassing even the combined figures of the US, China, and Europe. The digital economy is booming, projected to reach a staggering $1 trillion by 2025. This growth is fuelled by a massive internet user base, with over 759 million Indians actively connected, with a significant portion residing in rural areas. The ambitious Aadhaar programme, a digital ID system, has enrolled nearly 1.3 billion citizens, facilitating efficient delivery of welfare services, financial transactions, and access to government schemes.

Similarly, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) is witnessing exponential growth, expected to reach a billion transactions daily by 2026. Broadband connectivity has also seen a significant leap, reaching over 93 per cent of Indian villages. These milestones reflect India’s unwavering commitment to building a digitally empowered and inclusive society.

The government’s programmes like the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN), Digital India, National Broadband Mission, and National Data Centre Policy have laid the groundwork for a robust digital infrastructure.

The Bharat Net Project, with its ambitious goal of connecting villages through high-speed internet, serves as a prime example. Additionally, the government’s commitment is evident in establishing Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces and fostering domestic production of telecom equipment through Production Linked Incentive schemes.

Beyond connectivity, the government’s has undertaken monumental steps to advance DPI. The Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) trinity has resulted in millions of new bank accounts and streamlined direct benefit transfers, eliminating leakages and ensuring targeted delivery of welfare programmes.

Initiatives like Ayushman Bharat Mission and Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP) are transforming healthcare and logistics sectors respectively. Innovative solutions such as digilockers and authentication frameworks empower citizens with secure storage and access to vital documents. Digital platforms like ONDC are further empowering small businesses by providing a global marketplace.

Multi-pronged success

The emergence of DPI has ushered in an era of e-governance, with citizens gaining online access to a wide range of government services.

Portals like the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) offer a one-stop platform for everything from birth certificates to land records.

This digitalization has streamlined processes, reduced bureaucracy, and enhanced transparency.

India’s DPI initiatives, often referred to as the India Stack, have been instrumental in boosting productivity, improving efficiency, and generating employment opportunities. A robust digital infrastructure fosters global connectivity, financial inclusion, and innovation.

It serves as a springboard for entrepreneurs and businesses.

DPI is also transforming education through e-learning and healthcare through telemedicine, paving the way for a more equitable and accessible future.

The true power of DPI was evident during crises. Initiatives like the Garib Kalyan Yojana, which utilised digital banking infrastructure for direct benefit transfers, ensured swift and transparent delivery of financial assistance to millions during the pandemic. Digital platforms also facilitated access to vital information, healthcare services, and emergency assistance, leaving no one behind.

Global reach

Looking ahead, India has immense potential to lead the global conversation on DPI development.

The country’s success with multi-language support, collaborative platforms, and real-time data analysis holds valuable lessons for others. India can serve as a role model for developing nations, promoting multilateral dialogue to establish universal standards and fostering sustainable financing models for global DPI development.

However, India’s journey is not without challenges. The digital divide persists, and ensuring equitable access to technology and internet connectivity remains a priority.

Concerns regarding accountability and data protection also require careful consideration. Despite these adversities, the transformation brought about by India’s Digital Public Infrastructure is commendable.

From empowering citizens with digital identities to providing connectivity in the remotest villages, the nation has embraced technology as a catalyst for change. Nevertheless, the journey has only started. With unwavering determination and well-planned efforts, India is ready to take the lead in the global digital revolution.

Monika is Assistant Director, IES; Gopalakrishnan is a non-resident fellow with NITI Aayog. Views are personal and not attributable to NITI Aayog