In a different and difficult period of the past two years, digital transformation has become the sine non qua for businesses and individuals. During this sudden transition to the ‘new normal’, adoption of digital solutions has accelerated much faster than industry experts have estimated. There is no doubt that unprecedented events have taught us several lessons to keep in mind as we move forward. Let’s look at the two crucial for India.
A global growth spurt in technology
India has achieved a fair share of technological growth during the pandemic. Along with an increased amount of uncertainty, Covid-19 has pushed the adoption of the technology across sectors across the country and made it almost part of the business. We saw a great evolution of technology and adoption across all sectors and industries such as retail, entertainment, education, healthcare, etc. – and many of these changes are here for the long haul. This new adoption has also helped maintain consumer demand and create new employment and livelihood opportunities.
India’s sudden surge of technological growth was not limited to a certain segment of the population, however. Given the current situation, the demographics of technology users in the country have also changed. Along with tech-savvy millennials, those in the older cohorts have also turned to tech to survive in the new normal. In addition, the introduction of new age apps (both foreign and domestic) has helped and helps the people of the country to access new livelihoods as well as create new employment opportunities. The resulting policies that govern technology platforms must keep pace with the times and aid.
Changing technological policies must enable growth, not stifle it
India’s growing tech ecosystem calls for an immediate need to create a strong framework. Most importantly, it needs to be flexible given the dynamic nature of the tech industry which is exposed to several challenges such as cybersecurity, which puts data in a precarious position. In a densely populated country like ours, data will be an essential asset to enable effective economic and social governance.
Private tech companies are driving the country’s internet and tech growth. Tech startups (domestic and foreign) have helped create a profound socio-economic impact across India. Content creators on platforms such as TikTok, DailyHunt and Instagram have been instrumental in disseminating crucial information to benefit audiences and at the same time have spearheaded the concert economy.
For any citizen, their first technological experience is usually done through an interaction with a social media platform. Therefore, a flexible framework is needed to activate an ecosystem of applications so that if investors can align their products and guidelines with these frameworks, they can work in harmony with the government / regulator.
While the recently announced intermediary guidelines are good steps in this direction, some companies have raised concerns about traceability aspects and are looking to the government to allay some of their privacy concerns. Governments and businesses should work together to balance cybersecurity and privacy issues. For example, the most recent example is in the United States, where global tech companies founded in China are no longer on Biden’s scanner list. Biden’s government wants to revisit decisions and threat parameters based on standard policies and facts.
In the wake of these basic realities, the upcoming personal data protection bill should seek to promote data businesses while balancing data privacy and data security. Considering the increase in the number of internet users, India has enormous potential to harness the growing internet demographics and create strong data-driven growth for the economy. Thus, the aim should be to keep commerce and business away from geopolitical conflicts, to reduce compliance and the multiplicity of regulations.
Notes for the “digital future”
Over the next decade, Internet freedom would become as important as individual freedom. Arbitrary ban on the application should not be the order of the day and should only be used in exceptional cases. It will also help create the policy predictability that is integral to making India a favorable destination for technology investments. Constant consultation with private technology companies, as they have been instrumental in the development of this ecosystem, would be wise to create enabling frameworks. Remember, the adoption of technology is here to stay long after the world is vaccinated and has overcome the pandemic.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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