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The global health pandemic has positioned technological interventions at the core of socioeconomic development. As economies recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, digital solutions are allowing economic change and putting economies on a path toward green, resilient, and inclusive growth. Such digital innovations and interventions have contributed in driving down costs, produce higher efficiency, enable smoother service deliver and increase transparency and accountability in the global market. In addition to this, investment from both the private and governmental sectors in digital solutions is helping the most vulnerable people access essential services, support small and medium-sized businesses, enable trade and services, and increase shock resilience.

In the context of India, the flagship Digital India campaign has gained severe traction under the context. The schemes and efforts under this have catalysed growth, bridged the gap of inaccessibility and maintained socioeconomic balance. In the Digital India Week, 2022, held in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserted “India is leading the world in the digital revolution as the government’s commitment to the use of digital technology in welfare programmes and services delivery is changing the lives of the people of the country”. This has been evident in how the potential with which the Digital India programme has built in the country in the last eight years has immensely helped the country to combat, cope and initiate recovery from the pandemic. We were able to run the world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccination and relief programmes owing to these measures. It has been reiterated that the Digital India programme helped CoWin and Aarogya Setu, were two major mobile applications that contributed extensively in channelising the significant vaccine doses. Additionally, such digital interventions facilitated relief provisions to the underserved and volatile sections of the society during the pandemic. Crores of rupees were transferred in the bank accounts of women, farmers, labourers as a form of relief funds and financial assistance under this initiative. Moreover, the ‘one nation one ration card’, free supply of essential goods was distributed to 80 crore people of the country.

The technological boom has also resulted in the massive decline of the digital divide between rural and urban India. The Common Service Centers in the country, especially in the rural and semi-urban parts of the country have been pivotal in bringing e-commerce and government services to the people at the grassroots level, thus bridging the the gap between development and amenities in rural and urban India. These have also led to a major contribution in the ease of living in the country. Through Direct Benefit Transfers, or DBT, more than INR 23 lakh crores have been distributed to beneficiaries since 2014. Furthermore, the use of digital platforms has enabled citizens to access public services without visiting government offices or approaching middlemen. For instance, collecting birth certificates, payment of bills, collection of ration, claiming admission, accessing exam results, getting certificates or availing banking facilities have been rendered hassle-free, time saving and seamless.

Particularly for financial transactions and payments, India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) has been appreciated by the World Bank and others. The country completed 1.3 lakh UPI transactions every minute in just May 2022. India's digital product, UPI, is the centre of attention, regardless of whether developed nations or those unable to invest in such technology are interested. These digital solutions have scale.

The Digital India Week 2022 also witnessed the launch of several digital portals. These include single sign-in portal Meri Pehchaan, Digital India Bhashini, Digital India Genesis and Chips to Startup (C2S). These programmes would further augment the country’s resilient recovery with the development goals, in addition to contributing to the ease of living for the citizens. Furthermore, for the businesses and MSMEs, such interventions will provide sustainable and unique solutions and also provide a fillip to the country’s startup ecosystem.

Therefore, It is imperative for the country to adopt new innovations and adapt to the existing and emerging interventions in the digital space. Internet penetration has the ability to transform the living standards of the citizens and the ways to conduct businesses and trade. India has shown severe progress and is at the forefront of the digital boom. India can proudly claim that it’s not just part of the industry 4.0 revolution but is actually leading it,” Mr. Modi reiterates.

This blog has been co-authored by Ishita Sirsikar and Srijata Deb.

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