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Published on November 24th, 2022 📆 | 6682 Views ⚑

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How is India using technology as a weapon in war against poverty?


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Munna, a tea seller, who has a small shop in a buzzing area near the IT hub of Nagpur, has digitalised his business and no longer depends on cash transactions. Not just payments, he settles his procurement and does the necessary shopping online. He has an online Health card and access to medical records and essential documents through a smartphone. Technology has assisted Munna in being digitally empowered and helped him avail various benefits through a click. 

Technology and India are not distant terms; India has, time and again, used technology to improve the lives of citizens and put India on a global pedestal. Be it AGNI, DNA fingerprinting, Pokhran-II nuclear test, or the Chandrayaan-I mission to the moon, India has made considerable achievements. But in the last eight years, India has used technology to solve problem statements concerning ordinary citizens. As a result, we are witnessing a Digital revolution in India. The crux of this revolution is — How is India using Technology as a weapon in war against Poverty? 

India’s Growing Digital Prowess

The backbone of India’s Digital revolution is low data cost and enhanced connectivity. The price of mobile data in India is among the cheapest, with an average cost of 1GB of mobile data in India costing around Rs. 14. Low data cost and affordable smartphones have increased smartphone numbers from 150 million to 750 million. In the last eight years, schemes like BharatNet have reduced the urban-rural gap and supplemented broadband connections; in 2014, India had around 60 million broadband connections, whereas in 2022, the number has increased to 810 million. 

Direct Benefit Transfer 

With low data cost and mobile phone access, constructing a digital ecosystem was the next step. To achieve the following, the JAM trinity was envisioned. JAM (Jan Dhan – Aadhaar – Mobile) has been a game changer for India; JAM enabled DBT and other seamless payment prospects. DBT has played a pivotal role in allowing the government to reach the last mile and supporting the most deprived sections of society. DBT has improved financial inclusion and enabled accurate targeting of beneficiaries. Around 310 schemes from 54 Ministries/ Departments are being implemented under DBT. More than Rs 36,659 crore was transferred using DBT to approximately 16.01 crore beneficiaries during the Covid-19 lockdown (2019). 

Digital transactions are leading the way

JAM has paved the way to a seamless digital payment ecosystem. In the early stages, a year after the launch of UPI, the total number of payments was 6% compared to 36% of Card payments. However, in FY 2021, UPI’s share expanded to 63%, while the percentage of Card payments shrunk to 9%. The progressive advancement of UPI has not just constructed an efficient payment instrument, but it has connected millions on an inclusive and well-structured Digital platform. For the third consecutive month, UPI transaction volumes breached the six-billion mark.

Digital and Inclusive Health

Digital outreach of healthcare facilities is one of the ways to distribute and provide inclusive and equitable resources. Like the success of India’s Digital financial ecosystem, the digital health ecosystem is not behind. Tech is the backbone of India’s Covid Vaccination drive. From booking an appointment to getting the vaccination certificate, CoWin is a one-stop platform for all Covid related documents. Similarly, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission aims to construct a National Digital Health Ecosystem that advocates Universal Health Coverage in a Digital, Inclusive, Affordable, Efficient, Safe and Accessible manner.

GeM is the one-stop marketplace for the MSMEs

With solid fintech and investment in digital schemes, launching an online market would create a 360-degree ecosystem. The government of India launched the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) on August 9, 2016. GeM has the potential to benefit more than 8.54 lakh registered cooperatives and their 27 Crore members. It is transparent and efficient; it helps in speedy procurement. GeM has replaced the lengthy procurement process and made the companies/departments efficient. 

Numerous other technological interventions are improving and making citizens’ life easy. Technology should not just be accessible to a niche segment; it should be accessible to the masses. India is an example of how technology, if used for good, can be a case study for the Globe. Investing in technology is a merit good that will have a compounding interest in the near future. India has laid the foundation of an inclusive, connected, and accessible society; this is how India uses Technology as a weapon in the war against Poverty. 



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Views expressed above are the author's own.



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