- India’s digital public infrastructure (DPI) is shaped in a unique partnership between governments (Union and States), regulators, the private sector, selfless volunteers, startups, and academia/think tanks.
INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE
Digital public infrastructure(DPI):
- It refers to an open-source identity platform that can be used to access a wide variety of government and private services by building applications and products.
- It includes:
- digital forms of ID and verification
- civil registration
- payment (digital transactions and money transfers)
- data exchange
- information systems.
- These public digital platforms are customisable, localizable, interoperable and leverage public data for open innovation models.
- For example, Unified Payment Interface (UPI) architecture’s interoperability is resonated in banks offering linkages to bank accounts through UPI which is accessed by consumers via 50-plus third-party apps.
- The platforms in DPI are based on core principles of consent-based data sharing protocols, openness, equity, inclusivity, fairness, transparency and trust hence reducing the digital divide.
- It is a 12-digit random number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to the residents of India after satisfying the verification process laid down by the Authority.
- Any individual, irrespective of age and gender, who is a resident of India, may voluntarily enroll to obtain an Aadhaar number.
- The person willing to enroll has to provide minimal demographic and biometric information during the enrolment process which is totally free of cost.
- An individual needs to form Aadhaar only once and after deduplication only one Aadhaar shall be generated, as the uniqueness is achieved through the process of demographic and biometric de-duplication.
- Legal Framework: The Parliament has passed the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Act, 2019 which allows voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity.
Benefits of Aadhar:
- It promotes transparency and Good Governance:
- Aadhaar number is verifiable in an online, cost-effective way.
- It is unique and robust enough to eliminate duplicates and fake identities and thus used as a basis/primary identifier to roll out several Government welfare schemes thereby promoting transparency and good governance.
- Tool of identity:
- Aadhaar has given identity to a large number of people who did not have any identity earlier.
- It has been used in a range of services and has helped in bringing financial inclusion, broadband and telecom services, direct benefit transfers to the bank account of citizens in a transparent manner.
- Neutrality of Aadhaar:
- It is devoid of any intelligence and does not profile people based on caste, religion, income, health and geography.
- The Aadhaar number is a proof of identity, however, it does not confer any right of citizenship or domicile in respect of an Aadhaar number holder.
- People-Centric Governance: Aadhaar is a strategic policy tool for:
- social and financial inclusion
- public sector delivery reforms
- managing fiscal budgets
- increasing convenience
- promoting hassle-free people-centric governance.
- Permanent Financial Address: It can be used as a permanent Financial Address
- It facilitates financial inclusion of the underprivileged and weaker sections of the society and is a tool for distributive justice and equality.
Significance of Aadhaar:
- It created a superstructure which delivers consistent, affordable, and across-the-board value to citizens, government and the corporate sector — wherever it gets used imaginatively.
Aadhaar and the private sector:
- Aadhaar holders can voluntarily use their Aadhaar for private sector purposes
- Private sector entities need not seek special permission for such usage.
- Between government departments (intra- and inter-State) Aadhaar data can be shared, but with the prior informed consent of the citizen.
- Banks and other regulated entities can store Aadhaar numbers as long as they protect it using vault and other similar means, as in Unique Identification Authority of India security regulations.
- Aadhaar authentications have shot up to 2 billion per month, and the cumulative number over the past 12 years has crossed 100 billion.
- The United States CLEAR programme: An expedited airport security/airport identity verification process) active at 51 airports with about 15 million members at a cost of $369 per annum for a family of four.
India’s DigiYatra and DigiLocker:
- DigiYatra: It is totally free of cost for the Indian traveler.
- DigiYatra is a Biometric Enabled Seamless Travel (BEST) experience based on a facial recognition system (FRS), through a partnership between industry and government
- It ensures seamless identification of passengers at key checkpoints such as airport entry, security check and boarding gate clearance.
- Air passenger traffic in India was estimated to be over 188 million in airports across India in the financial year 2022, out of whom over 22 million were international passengers.
- It has 150 million users, six billion stored documents, and done with a tiny budget of ₹50 crore over seven years.
- When one applies for a passport now, one need not even upload any portable document format (PDF) any more or submit some notarised papers.
- A simple consent on the passport application form allowing it to fetch the relevant data from DigiLocker
- Zerodha, Upstox, RazorPay, Equal and many other insurance and fintechs
- Their Know Your Customer/Client happens through the DigiLocker APIs
- Example: DigiLocker was used in a Karnataka Police recruitment drive to verify the academic credentials of candidates.
- It led to the process being cut down by about six months
- UPI: It has crossed eight billion transactions per month and transacts a value of $180 billion a month, or about a staggering 65% of India’s GDP per annum
- The Goods and Service Tax Network (GSTN) and then account aggregator could not have happened without an Aadhaar number and Permanent Account Number (PAN) database existing.
- If an Enterprise DigiLocker can be created: It can lead to as many downloads of PAN, GSTN and the other documents as needed by multiple departments across many States, saving huge costs and headaches for businesses.
- India’s DPI marks our second war for independence — economic freedom from the day-to-day drudgery of life and transactions
- It has become a new business backbone that is powering India towards a $25 trillion economy by the 100th year of our political independence.
- A new Cambrian explosion will happen when ChatGPT meets India Stack!
QUESTION FOR PRACTICE
The Gati-Shakti Yojana needs meticulous coordination between the government and the private sector to achieve the goal of connectivity. Discuss.(UPSC 2022) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)
- Prelims: Governance(DPI, Adhar, UIDAI, KYC, article 21)
- Mains GS Paper II: Important aspects of governance(e governance, accountability), right to privacy etc.