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'We’re helping nations build their own DPI,' says Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar

'We’re helping nations build their own DPI,' says Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Union Minister of State Rajeev Chandrasekhar talks about India’s DPI, the interest in it from other countries and the government’s plans for it

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State in the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY), talks to Business Today about the deep interest many countries have shown in adopting India’s Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI), and what the government is planning to add to the India Stack. Edited excerpts:

When you took charge of MeitY in 2021, you had a 1,000-day agenda. With less than 200 days remaining, how has the progress been so far?

I think we’ve made tremendous progress in six broad areas. If I am giving myself a report card, I think we’ve made decent progress on the legislative side, rules side. The Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act has been passed. The digital economy today, if you see the latest GDP numbers as well, is firing on all cylinders. We are at about 11 per cent of GDP today. And by 2026, we will be at about 20 per cent. Electronics manufacturing has made a significant leap. The target we set when I came on board [was] about $300 billion of electronics manufacturing and $120 billion of exports. While we may not be able to meet it by 2025-26, we are certainly on track to get to those numbers and expand our presence in the electronics global value chains in a manner that nobody would have believed was possible in 2014.

India Stack was prominently displayed at various G20 meetings. Will the government offer it for free?

We are now calling it the India Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) because DPI is a phrase now. During the Indian presidency of the G20, the phrase DPI was defined. The framework has been set, principles put together. There is consensus now—[on] the framework, the architecture and the principles on what is DPI, what is the functionality of DPI. So what India has done in the last five years, from Aadhaar to UPI to eSanjeevani to DigiLocker to Bhashini, we are offering as a stack or individually to any country that wants it. Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] has said that we certainly want to enable the countries of the Global South, who have in a sense been left out of the digital train for several years, [because] what they believed was an expensive or a big tech process.

We now offer it [DPI] to them and [have] created in parallel with the G20, the concept of a global DPI repository, which will all be open source, which will all be available to any country that wants to take that, customise that and develop their own digital model of governance and innovation. About eight countries have [already] signed MoUs. We can sign with another 30—the interest is that deep. But we are also not sitting with a ready-made amount of talent or talent pool or developer ecosystem that can support all of this at the same time.

So we are, in a sense, working with these eight countries initially, and building the developer ecosystem in India, building the skilling capabilities in India or helping not just implement this stack or transfer the technology of India DPI, but at the same time helping their ecosystem to build their own start-up and customisation capabilities. So, it is free of cost as far as the government is concerned. It is open source, and there can be very many different variants of it.

Trinidad and Tobago could have a variant of the UPI, Sierra Leone could have a variant of the Aadhaar and the global DPI repository will have all these various DPIs.

What new services are you looking at integrating into the DPI?

That’s a good question. The Prime Minister’s vision is that there will be no part of government that will be left without any digital asset. So, effectively, you will see that DPI now spans the entire spectrum of public services. There will be at least 20 to 30 new applications that will pile up on the India DPI that will address different slivers of the public service stack.


Published on: Nov 09, 2023, 12:59 PM IST
Posted by: Priya Raghuvanshi, Nov 09, 2023, 11:57 AM IST