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SANSAD TV: PERSPECTIVE- DECODING BUDGET 2022-23: THE DIGITAL PUSH

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Introduction:

The Digital Push’. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology outlay for Digital India programme in the Budget for 2022-23 has jumped 67.13 per cent. This year the allocation for this programme is ₹10,676.18 crores up from ₹6,388 crores last year. In her Budget speech the Finance Minister also proposed to introduce Digital Rupee based on blockchain and other technologies which will be issued by the Reserve Bank of India. Aiming to ensure that the benefits of digital banking reach everyone in a consumer-friendly manner the govt also plans to set up 75 digital banking units in 75 districts of the country by Scheduled Commercial Banks. A digital university will be set up in India to provide access to student across the country for world-class quality education at their doorstep amid academic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Government will also conduct required spectrum auctions in 2022 to facilitate rollout of 5G mobile services by private telecom providers during FY 2022-23.

Hurdles creating by Digital Solutions in real world:

  • Digital “solutions” create additional bureaucracy for all sick persons in search of these services without disciplining the culprits.
  • Along with paper work, patients will have to navigate digi-work. Platform- and app-based solutions can exclude the poor entirely, or squeeze their access to scarce health services further.
  • In other spheres (e.g., vaccination) too, digital technologies are creating extra hurdles.
  • The use of CoWIN to book a slot makes it that much harder for those without phones, computers and the Internet.
  • There are reports of techies hogging slots, because they know how to “work” the app. The website is only available in English.

 

Lack a data privacy law in India: will create chaos: Online sharks:

  • It is also alarming if the pandemic is being used to create an infrastructure for future exploitation of people’s data.
  • The digital health ID project is being pushed during the pandemic when its merits cannot be adequately debated.
  • Electronic and interoperable health records are the purported benefits. For patients, interoperability (i.e., you do not have to lug your x-rays, past medication and investigations) can be achieved by decentralising digital storage (say, on smart cards) as France and Taiwan have done.
  • Yet, the Indian government is intent on creating a centralised database. Given that we lack a data privacy law in India, it is very likely that our health records will end up with private entities without our consent, even weaponised against us (e.g., private insurance companies may use it to deny poor people an insurance policy or charge a higher premium).
  • There are worries that the government is using the vaccination drive to populate the digital health ID database (for instance, when people use Aadhaar to register on CoWIN).
  • No one is asking these questions because everyone is desperate to get vaccinated. The government is taking advantage of this desperation.

Challenges of digital financial inclusion in India

  • Digital financial services (DFS) lies at the heart of financial inclusion in India.
  • Despite the government’s efforts to create interconnected digital infrastructure, the adoption of DFS in rural areas is marred by digital illiteracy, which has a direct bearing on the acceptance of digital products.
  • The lack of trust in technology, inability to use smartphones and poor network connectivity restrict digital transactions and discourage people with low digital proficiency from using e-banking services.
  • As a result, cash is still the preferred mode of payment in rural India. Financial inclusion does not depend only on the digital capabilities of rural customers, but also on the ease with which they can carry out transactions online or on their phones.
  • The absence of financial products and services suited to the rural masses remains a challenge in digital financial inclusion.
  • Products have to be designed in a way that they are both easy to understand and operate.
  • Language is another factor. Banks and fintechs must necessarily integrate local languages into their products so that users have little trouble accessing them.

Means of accelerating digital financial inclusion in India

  • Acceleration of digital financial inclusion for underserved sections of Indian society.
  • Enabling SMEs to ‘get paid, get capital and get digital’ and access customers, and ensure their continued resilience.
  • Policy and technological interventions to foster trust and increase cyber resilience.
  • Unlocking the promise of digitization in India’s agriculture sector.
  • Strengthening the payment infrastructure to promote a level playing field for NBFCs and banks.
  • Digitizing registration and compliance processes and diversifying credit sources to enable growth opportunities for MSMEs.
  • Building information sharing systems, including a ‘fraud repository’, and ensuring that online digital commerce platforms carry warnings to alert consumers to the risk of frauds.
  • Enabling agricultural NBFCs to access low-cost capital and deploy a ‘phygital’ (physical + digital) model for achieving better long-term digital outcomes. Digitizing land records will also provide a major boost to the sector.
  • The mass adoption of digital payment platforms and mobile apps can be driven by hyper-localisation and addressing the pain points of switching from cash-based transaction mode to digitised services.
  • Multilingual options will also help develop a more inclusive model. Public and private entities can support local innovators who are more clued into regional demands and collaborate with them on products that suit local needs.
  • For example, the lack of documents has been the biggest deterrent in weaning rural customers away from traditional banking services. How
  • ever, AePS (Aadhaar-enabled Payment System) helped address this issue.
  • To make city transit seamlessly accessible to all with minimal crowding and queues, leveraging existing smartphones and contactless cards, and aim for an inclusive, interoperable, and fully open system such as that of the London ‘Tube’.

Conclusion:

  • India is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsavand it has entered into Amrit Kaal, the 25-year-long leadup to India@100, the government aims to attain the vision of Prime Minister outlined in his Independence Day address.
  • India’s economic growth in the current year is estimated to be 9.2 per cent, highest among all large economies.
  • The overall, sharp rebound and recovery of the economyfrom the adverse effects of the pandemic is reflective of our country’s strong resilience.