A Digital Aatmanirbhar Bharat
Ever since the Central government announced the ban of Chinese apps, Indians have been forced to look for alternate applications. This is certainly a shot in the arm for the Indian app developers, who were ignored in the past due to the easy availability of popular apps like Tiktok, Helo etc.
Opportunities for India
- India has the third-most Internet users in the world. India is still a consumer of digital apps and solutions created from other countries.
- With digital nationalism gaining importance in the world, perhaps the time is right for India to implement a three-pronged strategy to transform its digital ecosystem.
- Before we look at this, a quick view on the impact on the Chinese companies due to the ban. Can this be a watershed moment for India to create a holistic approach for building a strong digital ecosystem?
What needs to be done?
- As part of the Athmanirbhar Bharat and the ‘VocalForLocal’ movement, the government would do well to earmark a budget for encouraging start-ups. The start-up mantra “Fail fast, fail often and learn faster” should be implemented in the right spirit, supported by the government.
- The present ban serves as a great opportunity for India to develop indigenous apps that are relevant from an Indian context. While pushing for alternate apps, it is extremely important that the end-user experience is at the same level as the banned apps.
- For supporting/sustaining innovation, changes in our education system is needed. As pointed out in the draft National Education Policy (NEP), India needs to move away from the streams-based educated system and instead look at the multi-disciplinary approach in higher education institutions. While a science student specialises in specific domains, the system would encourage the student to pick up liberal education like music or philosophy. It is well proven that a multidisciplinary set-up is needed for fostering innovation. A national research foundation as a vehicle for funding and supporting innovation in all academic disciplines is a step in the right direction.
- The government would do well to come up with a 2025 vision for bringing India into the top 10 countries providing high quality internet speed. Policies on data privacy and data storage need to be addressed on top priority and the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill enacted soon.
- The other issue is on data localisation, a term used to indicate if data is stored and processed within the country. The government’s plan to relax the tricky local storage clause, by allowing certain category of data to be stored outside the country, is a progressive step. However, a strong audit framework should be set up and compliance ensured.
- For the Digital Aatmanirbhar Bharat to be a reality, we need a holistic approach to spur innovation in the country through a multidisciplinary education system and support for start-ups along with best-in-class digital infrastructure.