Union Budget 2023-24
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DATA – Oil to India’s Growth Engine

Data is the crude petroleum with huge monetary value but of insignificant utility in its raw form. But petroleum, when passed through a refinery, gives the gasoline which runs the world. Same way, data when analysed and refined into usable formats can do wonders. Companies like Google, Amazon etc. have made it large mainly by harnessing the potential of raw data and power of Analytics. Stepping up into cognitive analytics based on intelligent technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning algorithms and deep learning models, the future of data analytics is already here. Talking numbers, the global data analytics market is expected to exhibit remarkable growth with a CAGR of 30.08 per cent to make it to $ 77.64 billion within 2023- according to a report by Market Research Future (MRFR).

India – a country with over a billion population – with almost 60 per cent of them being regular internet users – is producing some of the world’s largest datasets in various sectors. According to a joint report by MMA India and GroupM India, the number of Indian internet users will expand from the current 622 million to 900 million by 2025. Same report suggests that India is likely to have 500 million online shoppers by 2030 (from 210 million in 2021) – generating huge data on consumers behaviour. Almost 600 million active social media users generate massive engagement and behavioural data. We are getting records of nearabout 38 billion UPI transactions per year – again generating enormous data which can be processed to understand say spending patterns. Be it any field, India is generating gigantic levels of data but now our focus should turn to our data processing capacity. Failing to harvest this power source will be a big miss for everyone.

Data processing in India is one of the fastest growing segments and the sheer volume of data processing projects being outsourced to the country is astounding. India’s data analytics industry is projected to be valued at $ 118.7 billion by 2026 (IBEF). That still will not be the peak of what we can achieve. Here comes the opportunity for businesses to invest and bridge the gap. They will have to enable themselves to capitalize on data insights and analytics to make the best use of vast amount of data being generated. It will play a crucial role in turning of industry 4.0 generating employment for people and profits for businesses. Proper investments in scaling AI and machine learning systems will help in increasing data analytics capacity manifold. While working on increasing our technical capacity, we will also have to bring in programs for proper manpower upskilling with advanced technical skills. On the same note, proper awareness and transparency in data processing will be a must to keep data harnessing in ethical direction.

With great potential that data brings to the table, we should also be warned about consequences of it being misused. Data, if in wrong hands, can also be used to manipulate user behaviour, false advertising etc. At its worst, manipulated data can even lead to misleading public policies drafted by legislators based on recorded research and surveys. Government too, is currently working on improving the Data Protection Bill 2019. It is supposed to be a “comprehensive legal framework” to regulate the internet ecosystem, data processing systems, cybersecurity and harnessing non-personal data to unfold the hidden potential of huge data being generated. We will need to bring in vast awareness and education campaign to make users aware of their rights and duties in the online environment and enable them to control how much of the data generated by them is to be shared with various entities.

“Data is the oil of 21st century and Analytics is the combustion engine.” Both of them aligned will lead India’s growth engine to PM Modi’s vision of India@100.

This is authored by Shreyansh Kalhansh.