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Navigating Digital Diplomacy - Digital Public Infrastructure Transcending Borders

Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) stands for a foundational technology framework that includes various software and public services to help users with a specific task. It is a centralized framework that offers the users a systematic tool to access their requested resources; furthermore, it plays an important role in fostering connections amongst people and promoting interconnectedness around the world since digital public infrastructure can be accessed from anywhere in the world. 

An Illustration on Navigating Digital Diplomacy

Illustration by The Geostrata


Examples of digital public infrastructure can be digital payments, government services and schemes, educational sectors that provide internships and vocational training, and access to online libraries. According to the United Nations Development Programme, DPI is an evolving concept that acts as an enabler for many people; it provides an accessible platform to people anywhere in the world, and it stands as a promoter of public interest.


DIGITALISATION AND DIPLOMACY


Most countries have entered the era of the technological revolution while catering to the challenges it possesses. Moreover, technology and building a DPI transcend geographical boundaries. The 2023 G20 Summit that was held in India, emphasized the importance and need for digital inclusion for the goal of building an inclusive digital public infrastructure and a proposal for One Future Alliance was made for a unified world. 


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the tragedies led to an understanding of the significance of a robust digital infrastructure that is multidimensional and not limited to only a particular domain.

DPI in health gained momentum, and countries with weak health digital infrastructure suffered miserably, whereas other countries were seen as prepared for the calamity. This underscored that the adoption of digital public infrastructure is highly useful for addressing global challenges like climate change, access to education, the gender gap, and the dearth of healthcare services. To work towards an efficient global digital economy, the flow of data and knowledge across countries is crucial. 


The main idea was to promote ‘tech-led development’. Experts have also termed the flow of technology among countries a form of ‘Digital Diplomacy’. Digital diplomacy plays a great role in connecting nations, it gives them a gateway to boost their economies and acts as a soft power as well. Numerous regional and international organizations have also established the importance of DPI.


The QUAD Leaders Summit highlighted the significance of a transformative and sustainable digital infrastructure. Additionally, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation also appreciated the adoption of digital infrastructure.

DPI has also been a focus area for bilateral agreements and collaborations among countries. India has been at the forefront of having bilateral understandings on the adoption of DPI. Some of the important case studies include the acceptance of UPI in France to ensure cross-border transactions.


Additionally, countries like Singapore, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, and Bhutan already have bilateral UPI agreements with India. A new order can be seen in South East Asia, which countries like India, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Bhutan, among others, are a part of, similarly, India aims to be the leader of the Global South and highlight the importance and need for the same.


DPI and its global adoption would ensure that small businesses around the world prosper by utilizing online services and mitigating the concerns of overseas trade or overseas physical transactions of goods or services.


This will provide better services at a lower rate online. Organizations like the World Economic Forum, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund strongly advocate the need for DPI and its ability to transform the global economy into a digital economy that increases efficiency, lowers cost, increases productivity, and fosters innovation.


Numerous case studies shed light on digitalization around the world. For example, in Kenya, the government has created an online platform called KAOP for agricultural benefits like data on crop performance, and weather patterns.

This highlights the emergence of digitization of agriculture which has transformed the agrarian economy. This revolutionary change in agriculture has prioritized the individual over the collective community.  


In India, the Ayushman Bharat Yojana is an initiative that has bridged the economic gap in healthcare and provides swift and efficient health services, in Singapore, OpenCerts is a platform that verifies digital academic certificates and examines their authenticity, and in Estonia, X-road is a digital platform that ensures collaborations between government agencies and enables data transfer online.


The world has transitioned from connecting through infrastructure like ports and pipelines to connecting online through technology, creating a whole new digital world. More and more nations are connecting through digital public infrastructure because of the immense growth in economies seen by countries like India, Japan, the USA, etc. Financial technology has seen an increase in its applications, for instance, India’s Unified Payments Interface. 


INDIA’S ROBUST DPI


India's DPI framework is designed to bridge digital divides to enable financial and digital inclusion as well as accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). More importantly, SDG 9, focuses on building sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation in industry, innovation, and infrastructure.


India has been lauded by the IMF for developing a world-class DPI for its citizens, which also underscores how sustainability is important for the coming years.

India has been successful in establishing its digital infrastructure, which can serve as a blueprint for other nations. This underlines the significant areas where India’s DPI model has utilized its potential, for instance, financial inclusion, public services, and government policies for a digital India. India’s digital public infrastructure has been widely recognized and valued worldwide.


The next decade will be a techade, which highlights the significance of the Indian technological revolution. The IT revolution has depicted the country as a knowledge-based economy that is innovative, skilled, and digitally prosperous.


The digitization of services in India has penetrated the grassroots level. For instance, the transfer of grants from the government directly to the accounts of farmers in rural areas and the usage of UPI by street vendors in urban areas showcases how governance has become more accessible in India due to e-governance mechanisms. 


WAY FORWARD


In the ever-changing global tableau, India’s DPI is a testament to how technology, when applied and used judiciously and inclusively, can change a nation and contribute to a safe shared global future. 


Challenges exist primarily due to security and privacy concerns. To counter these challenges, international monitoring and verification mechanisms must be regulated. Global collaborations to form stringent measures are needed to ensure transparency, authenticity, safety, and security.


Uniform check mechanisms must be formed by countries that tackle these concerns and help establish a strong DPI platform. Artificial intelligence has revolutionized the digital arena. To harness AI’s potential, countries must develop, innovate, and integrate. AI holds the power to impact various sectors, including health, education, and defence. Therefore, utilizing the capabilities of AI is highly important. 


Digital public infrastructure is a growing arena in the world and requires the utmost attention from all countries. A collaborative effort between the state and non-state actors would solve challenges revolving around the development of the concept of digital diplomacy around the world.


 

BY NANDITA LATA AND ANSHIKA MALIK

TEAM GEOSTRATA

1 commentaire


interesting to see the various means by which countries increase their presence in other countries

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