We live in an age of rapid transformation – one that has witnessed disruptive innovations, rising consumer expectations and reduced shelf life of the technology. This has reshaped how businesses perceived technology and forced them to reimagine even the most successful business models. Organisations have been redesigning their products, services, channels, and operations to grow their revenue through the convergence of emerging technologies such as the Internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, cloud, blockchain, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
Large-scale initiatives of the government, aimed at economic galvanisation and inclusion, such as Make in India, Digital India, and Skill India, have also begun to look at and leverage the above emerging technologies to create efficiencies and increase reach across the population at lower costs. Alongside large firms, start-ups too, have mushroomed and contributed significantly towards the growth and adoption of emerging technologies in India.
Moving ahead at an unprecedented rate
With government-led digital disruption, India has opted for the digital pathway to move at an unprecedented rate into the future, and develop a digitally-empowered society. Demonetisation has already moved a huge segment towards digitalisation. Surveys show that India is adding almost 110 million smartphone users every year and is on the verge of launching Aadhaar compliant devices with biometric authentication built into phones and tablets. By 2018, 200 million individuals and 8 million SMEs will connect and perform transactions online. Users will make purchase decisions based on the information gathered online.
Earlier, access to a digital platform was considered a major burden by many. But now being able to go through day-to-day transactions with apps like Paytm and e-banking easily, has created a convenient and unavoidable scenario for people to switch to the digital world. Despite its many initial hurdles, digitisation is that multiplying force in India right now. With an unprecedented mandate and a clear vision, the government is pushing ahead the Digital India initiative, which has the potential to transform the lives of citizens across the length and breadth of the country. A lot of initiatives like Jan Dhan, Aadhaar (a universal biometric identification system), rising smartphone penetration (JAM, or Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile), coupled with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) are fast-tracking India’s digitisation.
Embracing emerging technologies
Emerging technology solutions like AI, IoT, the blockchain, cyber security and related areas are being adopted like never before in a large number of government-led initiatives.
Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana provides basic banking amenities to everyone, by providing accounts, debit cards and accidental insurance coverage worth one lakh.
Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) enables consumers to receive subsidies directly into their bank accounts reducing pilferage, adulteration, and other malpractices, while ensuring that subsidies reach the people who need them. Linking of bank accounts with Aadhar for DBT allows efficient tracking and monitoring of benefits transfer.
The Jan-Dhan-Aadhar-Mobile trinity integrates the three identification numbers to allow citizens to avail several government benefits. A game-changing reform that allows transfer of benefits in a targeted, leakage-proof and cashless manner.
BHIM App was launched in an attempt to encourage cashless payments, the app enables easier, quicker, reliable, and 24/7 transactions using a smartphone, internet access, and an Indian bank account. It operates on the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and helps in retail banking operations.
Aadhaar has provided Digital identity to almost all Indians and has linked most digital transactions for the people.
Digi Locker was launched as an important facility to store crucial documents like Voter ID card, Pan card, BPL card, driving license, education certificates, etc. in the cloud. The 10 MB personal storage space is linked to the Aadhar number of the user. The Digi Locker scheme has more than ten lakh users, and this helps eliminate unnecessary paperwork and hastens processes.
Skill India Initiative aims to impart training in different areas to 400 million people in India by the year 2022. This will be essential to the success of the Digital India programme, one of the major challenges of which is a lack of skilled workforce.
PRAGATI is pro-active governance and timely implementation of projects as a grievance redressal mechanism and also to directly overlook the real-time progress of various central and state projects.
Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) schemes such as PAHAL for crediting LPG subsidy directly to bank accounts
SHAKTI scheme for transparent allocation of coal tenders through online bidding etc. have also been taken.
The most important tax reform in India – GST, is also operationalised through the GSTN, an online platform.
Pradhan Mantri Grameen Digital Saaksharta Abhiyaan (PMGDSA) which aims to digitally literate six crore households by March,2019.
SWAYAM portal has been launched for students and NCERTs of all classes are now available online.
Sugamya Pustalya Abhiyaan has also been launched for creating of a digital library for blind people.
VISAKA that is Vittiya Saaksharta Abhiyaan has also been launched to raise awareness about digital economy and benefits of cashless economy.
E-Sampark has linked government departments and jurisdiction while Common Service Centres (CSCs) also called as Jan Suvidha Kendras have been set up in rural areas.These are E-kiosks which ensure last mile delivery of online services.
Smart cities are the architect of our future in the digital age. About 843 million people are expected to live in urban areas by 2050. The government aims to create 100 smart cities by 2022 and embracing digital solutions will strengthen the cities through a comprehensive and inter-connected approach combined with increased public participation. A list of 98 cities has been released by the government. Extensive use of technology for authentication of citizens, monitoring of traffic, education, health, crime, energy and waste management, etc., will be of vital importance. Electronic delivery of government services and e-platform for citizens will help their participation in governance, and enable micro-management of minor issues.
It would not be an overstatement to say that India’s proactive approach to policies, programmes, and practices towards the adoption of emerging technologies for economic transformation provided the foundation for the success of all our flagship programmes. India has created the largest digital identity platform in Aadhaar; and creating the world’s largest rural broadband network, the world’s largest direct benefit transfer system and the world’s largest citizen engagement platform in MyGov.
Today, we have built a very robust platform from which we can leapfrog into the next wave of the journey of new technology adoption. Indian entrepreneurs are already working and delivering products and solutions in emerging technologies. Technology providers play a key role in implementing technology across all industries. They are racing ahead, constantly upgrading themselves, and their clients and harnessing emerging technologies wherever possible. As businesses, big and small, face an ever-changing global market, identifying the next big idea is the key criteria to stay ahead.
(Views expressed in this article are of Bireswar Das, Head-Government BU, YASH Technologies Pvt. Ltd)