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India ups investment in digital public infrastructure, plans DigiLocker extension

G20 Sherpa pitches international collaboration on DPI governance structure
India ups investment in digital public infrastructure, plans DigiLocker extension

The Digital India program that includes the national digital identity, Aadhaar, as well as public sector systems for biometric authentication and online government services, is receiving a funding boost, The Economic Times reports.

More than 149 billion Indian rupees (US$1.79 billion) has been earmarked over the next five years by the Cabinet of the country’s central government to upgrade and expand the program.

The funding will support skills improvement for more than 600,000 information technology professionals, expand a government translation tool to cover more Indian languages, and support digital startups across the country.

In addition to Aadhaar, DigiLocker, the Unified Payment Interface and e-Hastakshar e-signature service, Digital India also includes the single sign-on platform for digital government services, MeriPehchaan, launched last July.

The funds will also be used to extend DigiLocker to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to enable the verification of documents it stores for credit applications and services, according to Manorama.

Governance of digital public infrastructure

Amitabh Kant, former CEO of public policy thinktank NITI Aayog and current India G20 Sherpa, told CNBC-TV18 in an interview that the adoption of digital public infrastructure (DPI) has created a governance gap.

India’s approach to bridging that gap, Kant says, is based on the use of open source technology and open API interoperability.

Kant says an international architecture is needed to address the absence of a defined governance structure for DPI. He also suggests that the value of DPI is universally accepted among the G20.

The next step is for those countries to come together with others in the global south, and international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, to collaborate on the necessary governance structure.

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