India’s DPIs, catching the next wave

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Source- The post is based on the article “India’s DPIs, catching the next wave” published in “The Hindu” on 30th March 2023.

Syllabus: GS2- e-governance

Relevance– Digital India

News– The article explains India’s digital public infrastructure.

What are some facts about India’s digital public infrastructure?

India’s digital public infrastructure or India Stack is a partnership between governments, regulators, the private sector, selfless volunteers, startups, and academia/think tanks.

It has led to many Lego blocks to create a superstructure which delivers consistent, affordable, and across the board value to citizens, government and the corporate sector.

What are different initiatives under India digital public infrastructure that show its effectiveness?

Aadhar– The judgement of the Supreme Court of India on privacy led to slow opening of Aadhaar to the private sector

The rapid adoption and ease of doing business in day­to­day transactions has now led to a gradual opening of Aadhaar for various private sector applications.

Aadhaar holders can voluntarily use their Aadhaar for private sector purposes. Private sector entities need not seek special permission for such usage.

Aadhaar data can be shared between government departments, but with the prior informed consent of the citizen.

Banks and other regulated entities can store Aadhaar numbers as long as they protect it using vault and other similar means.

UIDAI is making efforts to incentivise Aadhaar usage. Aadhaar authentications have shot up to 2.2 billion per month, and the cumulative number over the past 12 years has crossed 100 billion.

Digi Yatra and DigiLocker– Digi Yatra is a Biometric Enabled Seamless Travel experience based on a facial recognition system through a partnership between industry and government.

It ensures seamless identification of passengers at key checkpoints such as airport entry, security check and boarding gate clearance.

About two lakh passengers have utilised this successfully. Air passenger traffic in India was estimated to be over 188 million in the financial year 2022. When Digi Yatra reaches a third of them, it will lead to second order effects and more innovation.

DigiLocker is another example. It is one of the least known Digital Public Infrastructure. It today has 150 million users, six billion stored documents. Plans are to expand it to many countries around the world.

When one applies for a passport now, one need not even upload any PDF or submit some notarized papers. A simple consent on the passport application form allows it to fetch the relevant data from DigiLocker.

Zerodha, Upstox, RazorPay, Equal and many other insurances and fintechs use DigiLocker API for their Know Your Customer.

Today, there is a lack of a single portal at the Union or the State level where industry can see all the necessary compliances. An Enterprise DigiLocker can be created.

UPI- The unified payment interface or UPI which is breaking records. It has now crossed eight billion transactions per month and transacts a value of $180 billion a month.

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