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14 years on, the marvel of DPI’s expanding universe

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In Short:

Aadhaar, India’s digital identification program, has been issued to over 139 crore people, facilitating social and economic inclusion. UPI transactions are expected to exceed 100 crore per day by 2027. India’s Digital Public Infrastructure, including Aadhaar and UPI, is gaining global recognition. Various digital public goods (DPGs) and infrastructure, developed in India, are being adopted globally. Philanthropic funding and government support are needed to encourage the development of DPGs. India needs to focus on institutionalizing and promoting DPGs globally.

Aadhaar Reaches Milestone with 139 Crore Issuances

Aadhaar, the 12-digit individual identification number, has been issued to more than 139 crore people so far, covering almost the entire population of the country in nearly a decade-and-a-half since its launch. India’s foundational digital identity programme, launched in 2014, has been revolutionary for the social and economic inclusion it spurred.

Increasing Pace of Digital Payment Adoption

Alongside, the pace of digital payment adoption has been equally striking. Unified Payments Interface (UPI) transactions are expected to exceed 100 crore transactions per day by F Y27, as per a report by PwC India, which expects UPI to dominate the retail digital payment landscape, accounting for 90% of transaction volumes over the next five years.

India’s Digital Public Infrastructure

While Aadhaar and UPI are the most popular digital public infrastructure (DPI) to have come out of India, which are being hailed globally, there are several others taking shape. These include the likes of Account Aggregator, Open Network for Digital Commerce, and Open Credit Enablement Network (OCEN).

Global Recognition for Indian Digital Public Goods

Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA) is an initiative endorsed by the UN secretary general that facilitates the discovery and deployment of digital public goods. There are currently 38 DPGs that state they have been developed fully (16) or partially (22) in India. There are 54 DPGs that state they have been deployed in India at different scales.

India Leading the Way in Digital Transformation

India’s Digital Public Infrastructure is at the forefront of innovation with initiatives like Bhashini focusing on developing a national public digital platform for languages using artificial intelligence. India’s comprehensive digital transformation across sectors is setting a benchmark for countries worldwide.

Democratising AI with DPI

The integration of DPI thinking in the field of artificial intelligence aims to democratise AI’s computing infrastructure, datasets, and language models. This approach is seen as vital for fostering a vibrant AI innovation ecosystem in the country.

Philanthropic Support for Digital Public Goods

India’s potential in developing digital public goods continues to be substantial, and philanthropic funding along with government support can play a crucial role in encouraging their development. Collaboration between global philanthropic organisations and donors is facilitating the emergence of impactful open-source projects.

Open-Source Projects Transforming Digital Infrastructure

A vibrant open-source ecosystem of projects is emerging, building on the success of India Stack. Various projects like eSignet, Project Inji, OpenG2P DPGs, and others are revolutionising the landscape of digital infrastructure and facilitating real-time government-to-person payments and healthcare services.

India’s Role in Digital Diplomacy and Global Cooperation

India’s focus on leading in Digital Public Infrastructure needs to be complemented with efforts to promote and institutionalise the export of Digital Public Goods. Countries like Estonia provide a model for external engagement and collaboration, which India can learn from to enhance its global outreach in the digital domain.

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