“Stacking up the Benefits Lessons from India’s Digital Journey” Report

India’s development of a “world-class digital public infrastructure” has been lauded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a working paper titled ‘Stacking up the Benefits Lessons from India’s Digital Journey.’ The paper credits India’s building block approach and focus on supporting innovation for the success of its digital public infrastructure (DPI).

Building Block Approach to DPI

India’s approach to building its digital public infrastructure involves identifying a minimal common core to solve a set of problems. The building block approach provides basic tools for creating tailored solutions. For a diverse country like India, this approach allows each building block to address multiple problems.

Interoperability and Vibrant Ecosystem

Interoperability between different DPIs and a competition-focused design support a vibrant ecosystem. The interoperability is supported via open standards, enabling everyone to use India Stack’s functionality. This fosters innovation and provides the opportunity to tailor solutions to the local context. The design of India Stack encourages competition and removes silos, sidestepping existing bottlenecks and incumbent interests.

CoWIN: A Successful Example

India’s principles are implemented in DPIs in education and health industries. On such example is the COVID-19 vaccine distribution platform, CoWIN. India successfully scaled its vaccine delivery and addressed large-scale internal migration with the help of the digital backbone. CoWIN’s technology was also used in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Jamaica to implement their vaccination programs.

Importance of Information Technology

India’s recognition of the importance of Information Technology (IT) in developing the identity layer is also highlighted. Before the Aadhaar card, India had various identity cards and databases, but none had universal coverage or the ability to handle a billion-plus citizens. The government appointed a successful IT entrepreneur as its founding chairman and enabled UIDAI to hire more relevant talent for the task. India’s success in this area highlights the importance of recognizing the role of IT in building digital infrastructure.

Transforming Lives

Luis E Breuer, IMF Senior Resident Representative to India, praised India’s digital public infrastructure in a tweet, stating that it is transforming people’s lives. The paper concludes that India’s journey offers lessons for other nations undergoing digital transformation. The building block approach fosters innovation, allowing each building block to address multiple problems.




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