An Authored article by Mr. Niranjan Gidwani, Consultant Director | Member UAE Superbrands Council | Charter Member Tie Dubai | Hbr Advisory Council
In today’s rapidly evolving world, Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) is the equivalent of traditional infrastructure like roads, bridges, and railways, shaping the digital landscape. In essence, DPI can be envisioned as an intermediary layer within the digital ecosystem, functioning atop the physical layer of connectivity, devices, data centers, and more. This intermediary layer, in turn, supports an apps layer, catering to various verticals such as e-commerce, telehealth, remote education, and more.
DPI operates as a vital bridge, offering various services, from mobile payments to environmental sustainability initiatives. It enables national goals, seamlessly integrating technology and connectivity to create a robust infrastructure.
Reflecting the inception of Aadhaar, it was initially conceptualized to establish a unique identification system for Indians. Over time, Aadhaar, which seemed like a mere digital identity proof, evolved to become the cornerstone of India’s DPI ecosystem. The integration of Jan Dhan accounts, Aadhaar, and mobile numbers, forming the JAM trinity, marked a pivotal moment, showcasing the potential of DPI.
The Unified Payments Interface (UPI) emerged as a game-changer, revolutionizing the payment landscape in India. This innovation sparked a fintech revolution, with notable players like PhonePe, Paytm, and Google Pay becoming household names. Subsequently, the National Health Stack and Government e-marketplace came to fruition, solidifying India’s digital transformation.
India’s digital transformation is extraordinary, especially considering its historical reliance on cash transactions. The transition to digital payments has been substantial, evidenced by the staggering number of transactions and the involvement of millions of people and merchants.
However, the term “public” in DPI can be misleading. The responsibility for DPI transcends governments and extends to technology companies, NGOs, civil society groups, entrepreneurs, and independent programmers. Thus, a more fitting term could be DIGITAL PUBLIC-PRIVATE INFRASTRUCTURE, emphasizing the collective efforts required to fortify DPI.
Businesses play a crucial role in building the physical layer and offering services. Their products and devices, designed for public use, facilitate quick, cost-effective solutions and easy adoption. With a robust foundation for the DPI network, India now envisions taking the India Stack global, showcasing its products, and seeking collaboration on the international stage.
To achieve sustainable development goals in various sectors, DPI emerges as a potent global accelerator. India’s initiative to present the digital governance pitch at the G20 Presidency is a strategic move that can propel DPI’s significance and international relevance.
Nevertheless, achieving universal broadband connectivity worldwide remains daunting due to its associated costs and challenges. The solution lies in forming strategic public-private partnerships for broader DPI deployment. Utilizing digital public goods (DPGs), such as open-source software, open data, and open AI models, can significantly reduce DPI costs and foster collaboration.
India’s burgeoning IT sector is primed to seize the opportunity, creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders by contributing to DPI’s global deployment. While India has made significant strides, the journey toward a comprehensive DPI network is an ongoing endeavor with immense promise for the future.
In conclusion, India’s proactive approach to digital governance and its commitment to enhancing the global understanding and adoption of DPI positions it as a key influencer in shaping the future of digital infrastructure. As the world rallies towards achieving sustainable development goals, DPI stands as a catalyst, igniting positive change and inclusive growth on a global scale.