APN News, September 18, 2023
New Delhi: “India has immensely benefited from the adoption of Digital Public Infrastructure and has positioned itself to accelerate towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals .” said Dr Amar Patnaik, Member of Parliament, RajyaSabha.
These goals encompass poverty eradication, promotion of good health and well-being, assurance of quality education, as well as the facilitation of decent work and economic growth and reduction of inequalities. Speaking at the virtual panel discussion ‘Reimagining India’s Digital Public Infrastructure Globally for Attaining the SDGs’ organised by CUTS International, Dr Patnaik remarked that India’s DPIs such as Aadhaar, UPI and Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission have played a significant role in accelerating the growth towards SDGs.
He also lauded the New Delhi Declaration at G-20 wherein India plans to build and maintain a Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository (GDPIR). On the issue of taking DPIs to the global south and other countries, he highlighted that it is critical that other countries understand the policy push required before the adoption of DPIs. He further added that south-south institutions can be galvanised to make a bigger difference in fostering DPIs’ global adoption.
Highlighting the role of governance in DPI, the panel discussed the need for digital infrastructure to be neutral and accommodative of the local requirements. The panel underscored design principles such as interoperability, adaptability, inclusivity, and maintaining distinction between infrastructure and service to transform the global journey of DPIs.The hallmark of digital infrastructure is that it is invisible from the public eye. Prior to implementing DPI, a comprehensive framework is essential to guarantee data security and privacy. These solutions should prioritise the end user and undergo rigorous testing across borders, promoting cross-border cooperation between nations.
There is a need to champion democratic approaches such as creating mass scale digital access points and making DPI available to sectoral experts. A specific emphasis was made on not creating an exclusionary policy. It is imperative to increase global south collaboration, with Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and regional cooperation playing crucial roles. Capacity building initiatives are also indispensable to ensure the effective implementation of DPI initiatives, contributing to a more equitable and sustainable future.
The panel particularly highlighted that the forthcoming presidencies of G20 by Brazil and South Africa can prioritise adoption of DPIs to accelerate the achievement of SGDs by 2030.
Panellists included Lorrayne Porciuncula, Co-founder and Executive Director, Datasphere Initiative; Osama Manzar, Founder and Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation; ParminderJeet Singh, Digital Society Researcher, and Hanani Hlomani, Research, ICT Africa (RIA). The session was moderated by Dr Navneet Sharma, Director General, CUTS Institute for Regulation & Competition (CIRC).