India’s Economic Times recently reported on the advent of a “cashless society” in India….. According to statistics from Statista, India has about 460 million Internet users at present, having reached an Internet penetration rate of 30% -35% making it the second largest online market in the world. The number of Internet users is expected to reach 730 million by 2020. As more and more economic activities are digitized, “Digital India” is entering the fast lane, driving tremendous changes in Indian society in many fields…………..
(Goes on to cite various figures pertaining to digital transactions, mobile phones and (Aadhaar) ID cards.)
…………..a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, told this reporter that India has made significant progress in electronic payments under the principle of “unified payment interface + digital identity authentication system + mobile phone”. Jaitley, India’s finance minister, said the “1 billion + 1 billion” vision is that a billion-level authentication system will connect with over a billion mobile phone users, nearly 500 million Internet users and 700 million bank accounts. Digitization will become an important part of national economic development.
Establishment of a “Digital India” group to steer leapfrogging development
“Digital India is making great progress thanks to government guidance and participation, extensive promotion by businesses and the community,” said Parasuraman, Professor at the Tata Social Science Institute. He told this reporter that this is both an economic and technological revolution, as also a social revolution. Prasad, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology of India, said: “We are working hard to create a digital India with three pillars for its development: creating a digital infrastructure that provides digital demand services and e-government.”
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of India has set up a “Digital India” integration agency, including the National Division of E-governance, to guide and support “Digital India” and related policies and initiatives. To this end, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has also opened five software testing and certification bodies, and the establishment of a national network of focal points. In addition, the Department has also established a Computer Emergency Response Team to support digitization of the financial and power sector and hired a McKinsey company to prepare a road map for the Indian digital economy .
In addition to the “Digital India” Group, the Government of India has also established a national “universal payment interface” to facilitate payment by mobile phones; the promotion of a national inclusive financial plan for those who do not have bank accounts to access financial services; and the promotion of payment through digital transactions in banking, telecommunications and e-commerce. Companies are involved in economic activities. For small traders using electronic payments, the state grants tax concessions and even subsidies. To make the public better experience life online, the Indian government also requires the telecommunications sector to provide 100MB of data per month free from 2018 onwards to each user.
Apart from this, India is introducing a new policy to further stimulate the electronics manufacturing industry: introduction of procurement policies and data protection laws for electronic security products, and is trying to promote the digital economy from the entities to the legal system in an all-round way.
Lagging infrastructure development is the biggest challenge
India lacks comprehensive industrialization and is also lacking in national governance capacity. India hopes to skip the Industrial Revolution and move directly into the data-driven era through “Digital India”. Parasuraman believes that this is a beautiful vision but one that faces many fundamental problems. It is easy to attract people to achieve some results through simple operations using digital technologies. However, it requires systematic cooperation in all aspects of politics, economy and society to form a digitally driven economy. This is a systematic project.
Al-Aya also believes that despite the ambitious “digital India” plan, there are, in fact, many difficulties; electricity and education above all. India’s power grid construction is quite a laggard. In many remote areas there is no power at all, and even in areas where there is power supply, it is very unstable. In addition, the education level in rural areas of India is generally low and the illiteracy rate is high. This has a great impact on digitization.
Banerji believes that the biggest challenge “Digital India” has to face is lack of infrastructure, which has become a major obstacle to high-speed data services. To date, 55,000 villages in India are still without mobile connectivity, mainly because telecom operators have no incentive to set up base stations in these areas as they are far from profitable. A joint report of India’s National Association of Software and Services Companies and Deloitte not long ago released estimates that to reach the global average penetration rate of one WiFi hotspot per 150 people, India needs to build more than 8 million hot spots, but currently there are only 3.1 Million.
In addition, some policy barriers, including lack of transparency in foreign direct investment policies, affect the development of e-commerce. Some government policies and suggestions are not commercially viable. The private sector has no interest in bidding for government projects.
With the growth of cloud services and telecommunications, data security has become a major challenge in India.
(Xinhua News Agency, New Delhi, November 8)