Scope of Digital Diplomacy for India – UPSC GS2

Context: India is pioneering the concept of digital public goods. This provides India an opportunity to take its made-in-India digital public goods to hundreds of emerging economies across the world.
Examples of India’s Digital Goods:
  • Children have access to QR-coded textbooks across state boards and languages
  • Economically disadvantaged have access to the public distribution system
  • Beneficiaries of government schemes:  Direct money transfer into their bank accounts.
  • Digital Services: Transforming the way we get our government services for example, withdrawing our PF, getting our passport and driving license and checking land records, etc..
  • UPI
  • ONDC
What are the advantages of digital goods over physical goods?
  • The digital codes are highly reusable, so the cost for setting up the digital infrastructure is very less.
  • The investments required for transporting digital public goods are minuscule, and there is no chance of a debt trap.
  • Digital public goods have short gestation periods and immediate, and visible impact and benefits.
  • Finally, the continuous growth of technology, the network effect, and the rapid creation of new layers of technology ensures that the digital public goods infrastructure intensifies the growth aspects. For example, the surge in UPI-based payments in India and the use of Diksha, the school education platform.
  • Since building digital public good infrastructure is more effective than building physical infrastructure, it will help India to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
How made in India digital tools can help other emerging economies?
  • Emerging economies are characterized by gross inefficiencies in the delivery of government services and a consequent trust deficit.
  • In this background, the use of digital goods will make governance more inclusive, transparent, and effective.
  • Some advantages of using digital tools in governance are:
    • Digital infrastructure can plug leaks.
    • It eliminates ghost beneficiaries of government services.
    • It makes the individual-government-market interface transparent
    • Processes get streamlined and wait times for any service come down dramatically.
    • Productivity goes up and services can be scaled quickly.
    • Benefits can be rapidly extended to cover a much larger portion of the population.

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