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General Studies 2 >> Governance

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1. Context
The nation’s unique DPI initiatives, such as digital ID (Aadhaar) and payment infrastructure (UPI), have been highlighted by the Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG) under the G20 umbrella. 
2. Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI)
  • Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) is a network of digital services that are essential for economic opportunity and social progress. It includes things like digital identity systems, payment systems, and data exchange platforms. DPI is open and accessible to everyone, and it is designed to be interoperable so that different services can work together seamlessly
  • Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) refers to the foundational digital infrastructure and services provided by governments or public entities to support and enhance various aspects of digital governance, public service delivery, and citizen engagement
  • DPI encompasses a wide range of technological components and initiatives aimed at creating a digital ecosystem that benefits both government operations and the general public.
  • Though the term DPI is relatively new, the concept is not. The internet, powered by common protocols like HTTP, HTML, and SMTP, is a prime example of DPI
  • It ensures global information exchange and interoperability
  • Telecom, with standards like GSM, SMS, CDMA, and IEEE 802.11, is another example. Loosely defined, DPI is a set of technology building blocks that drive innovation, inclusion, and competition at scale, operating under open, transparent and participatory governance
  • India’s history with technology in the public domain began with disconnected applications developed in the ’80s and ’90s
3. India’s unique Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) initiatives

India has undertaken several unique and ambitious Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) initiatives aimed at modernizing governance, improving service delivery, and promoting digital inclusion. Some of India's notable DPI initiatives include:

  1. Aadhaar: The Aadhaar program is one of the world's largest biometric identification systems. It provides a unique 12-digit identity number to residents of India, based on their biometric and demographic data. Aadhaar is used for authentication and identity verification in various government and private-sector services, including banking, welfare distribution, and more.

  2. Unified Payments Interface (UPI): UPI is a real-time payment system developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It enables individuals to make instant money transfers and payments using a mobile phone, facilitating digital transactions and financial inclusion.

  3. Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN): India's Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a unified indirect tax system. The GSTN is the IT backbone of this taxation system, facilitating online tax registration, return filing, and payment processing. It simplifies tax compliance for businesses and enhances transparency.

  4. Digital Locker (DigiLocker): DigiLocker is a secure digital document storage and sharing platform provided by the government. It allows citizens to store and access important documents digitally, reducing the need for physical copies and simplifying document verification processes.

  5. National Digital Health Mission (NDHM): Launched in 2020, NDHM aims to create a digital health ecosystem in India. It includes Health ID for individuals, electronic health records (EHRs), and telemedicine services to improve healthcare accessibility and quality.

  6. BharatNet: BharatNet is a government program to connect rural and remote areas of India with high-speed broadband internet. It aims to bridge the digital divide by providing affordable internet access to underserved populations.

  7. e-Governance Services: India has various e-governance portals and services, including the Digital India platform, which offers a wide range of online government services, from applying for government schemes to filing income tax returns.

  8. National Common Mobility Card (NCMC): NCMC, also known as "One Nation One Card," is a contactless smart card that can be used for multiple modes of transportation, including buses and metro systems across different cities in India.

  9. e-Hospital Services: The government has established e-hospitals that provide digital services for booking appointments, accessing medical records, and receiving electronic prescriptions, enhancing healthcare delivery.

  10. GeM (Government e-Marketplace): GeM is an online platform for government procurement. It simplifies the procurement process, reduces corruption, and promotes transparency by allowing government agencies to purchase goods and services from verified vendors.

4. What is India Stack?

India Stack is a set of digital infrastructure components and application programming interfaces (APIs) that collectively form a powerful foundation for building various digital services and applications in India. It is designed to facilitate secure, paperless, and presence-less interactions between citizens, businesses, and government entities. India Stack is a key enabler of the country's efforts to promote digital inclusion, financial services, and e-governance.

Key components of India Stack include:

  1. Aadhaar: Aadhaar is India's biometric identification system, providing a unique 12-digit identity number to residents based on their biometric and demographic data. It is a crucial part of India Stack and serves as a secure means of authentication for various digital services.

  2. e-KYC (Know Your Customer): e-KYC is a paperless and digital method for customer verification, often using Aadhaar as a means of authentication. It streamlines the process of onboarding customers for financial services, telecommunications, and other sectors.

  3. Digital Locker (DigiLocker): DigiLocker allows individuals to store and access their digital documents, such as educational certificates, identity cards, and driving licenses. It reduces the reliance on physical documents and simplifies document verification.

  4. e-Signature: India Stack includes digital signatures that are legally recognized and secure. These digital signatures can be used for signing documents electronically, reducing the need for physical signatures.

  5. Unified Payments Interface (UPI): UPI is a real-time payment system that facilitates instant money transfers and payments between individuals, businesses, and banks using mobile phones. It simplifies digital transactions.

  6. Digital Consent: Digital consent frameworks allow individuals to provide permission for sharing their data securely and selectively with authorized entities, enhancing privacy and control over personal information.

  7. Electronic Health Records (EHR): India Stack supports the creation and sharing of electronic health records, promoting efficient healthcare delivery and patient data management.

  8. Aadhaar-based e-Signature: India Stack enables the use of Aadhaar for e-signatures, making it easier to sign documents electronically with strong authentication

5. How can DPI help Boost India’s Digital Infrastructure?

Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) can play a pivotal role in boosting India's digital infrastructure by providing a robust foundation for the development and expansion of digital services, connectivity, and technological advancements. Here are several ways in which DPI can contribute to the enhancement of India's digital infrastructure:

  1. Improved Connectivity: DPI initiatives like BharatNet, which aims to provide broadband connectivity to rural and remote areas, can significantly improve internet access and bridge the digital divide. This increased connectivity can support digital education, e-commerce, telemedicine, and other online services.

  2. Enhanced Digital Identity: Digital identity systems like Aadhaar and e-KYC enable secure and seamless access to various digital services. They reduce the need for physical verification and paperwork, making it easier for individuals to participate in the digital economy.

  3. Digital Payments: Unified Payments Interface (UPI) and digital payment infrastructure enable cashless transactions and financial inclusion. DPI facilitates secure and convenient digital payments, which are essential for e-commerce, online banking, and digital financial services.

  4. E-Governance: DPI supports e-governance initiatives by providing platforms for online government services, such as Digital India. Citizens can access government information, apply for services, and track applications online, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and enhancing transparency.

  5. Data Accessibility: Open data initiatives within DPI make government data available to the public, researchers, and businesses. This data can be used for various purposes, including data-driven decision-making, research, and innovation.

  6. Digital Health: Digital health infrastructure within DPI, such as electronic health records and telemedicine services, can improve healthcare delivery, especially in remote and underserved areas. Patients can access medical records and receive healthcare remotely.

  7. Efficient Taxation and Finance: Digital tax systems like the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) streamline tax compliance for businesses, reducing paperwork and tax evasion. Digital financial infrastructure supports efficient banking and lending services.

  8. Digital Literacy: DPI initiatives often include digital literacy programs and training to empower individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the digital world effectively.

  9. Digital Innovation: DPI fosters an environment conducive to innovation and entrepreneurship. By providing standardized digital infrastructure, it encourages the development of new applications, services, and startups.

  10. Cybersecurity and Data Protection: DPI can incorporate cybersecurity measures and data protection standards to ensure the security and privacy of digital interactions, reducing the risk of cyber threats and data breaches.

  11. Sustainable Development: DPI can support sustainable development by promoting digital services that reduce the need for physical resources, such as paper documents and in-person transactions.

6. Way forward
Digital Public Infrastructure serves as the backbone of India's digital transformation. It not only enhances access to digital services but also promotes innovation, economic growth, and inclusive development. By investing in and expanding DPI initiatives, India can continue to strengthen its digital infrastructure and position itself as a leader in the global digital economy.
Previous Year Questions

1.Consider the following statements: (UPSC CSE Prelims, 2018)

  1. Aadhaar card can be used as a proof of citizenship or domicile.
  2. Once issued, Aadhaar number cannot be deactivated or omitted by the Issuing Authority.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (d)

Source: indianexpress

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