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

Munna, a tea vendor, who has a small shop in a bustling area near the IT hub of Nagpur, has digitized his business and is no longer reliant on cash transactions. Not only payments, he settles his purchases and does the necessary shopping online. He has an online health card and access to medical records and essential documents via smartphone. Technology has helped Munna to gain digital power and has helped him to avail various benefits at the click of a button.

Technology and India are not distant terms; India has repeatedly 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 remarkable achievements. But for the past eight years, India has used technology to solve problems affecting 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 the war against poverty?

India’s growing digital prowess

The backbone of India’s digital revolution is low cost of data and improved 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 cost of data and affordable smartphones have increased the number of smartphones from 150 million to 750 million. Over the past eight years, schemes such as Bharat Net they reduced the urban-rural divide and integrated broadband connections; in 2014 India had around 60 million broadband connections, while in 2022 the number rose to 810 million.

Transfer of direct benefits

With cheap data and access to mobile phones, building a digital ecosystem was the next step. To achieve the following, the JAM trinity was conceived. JAM (Jan Dhan – Aadhaar – Mobile) it was a turning point for India; JAM enabled DBT and other payment prospects seamlessly. DBT has played a vital role in enabling government to go the last mile and support the most disadvantaged sections of society. DBT improved financial inclusion and enabled accurate targeting of beneficiaries. Around 310 schemes of 54 Ministries/Departments they are being implemented under DBT. More than Rs 36,659 crores was transferred using DBT at approx Beneficiaries of 16.01 crore during the Covid-19 lockdown (2019).

Digital transactions are leading the way

JAM has pioneered a seamless digital payment ecosystem. In the early stages, one year after the launch of UPI, the total number of payments was 6% compared to 36% for card payments. However, in fiscal 2021, UPI’s share increased to 63%, while the percentage of card payments decreased to 9%. UPI’s progressive advancement has not only built an efficient payment tool, but has connected millions of people on an inclusive and well-structured digital platform. For the third consecutive month, UPI transaction volumes surpassed the six billion mark.

Digital and inclusive health

The digital diffusion of healthcare facilities is one of the ways to distribute and provide inclusive and equitable resources. Like the success of India’s digital finance ecosystem, the digital healthcare ecosystem is not behind. Technology is the backbone of India’s Covid vaccination campaign. From booking an appointment to getting your vaccination certificate, CoWin it is a single platform for all documents related to Covid. Likewise, Ayushman Bharat digital mission aims to build a national digital health ecosystem that supports universal health coverage in a digital, inclusive, convenient, efficient, secure and accessible manner.

GeM is the single market for MSMEs

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

Numerous other technological interventions are improving and simplifying the lives of citizens. Technology shouldn’t just be accessible to a niche segment; it should be accessible to the masses. India is an example of how technology, when used for good, can be a case study for the Globe. Investing in technology is a worthy asset that will have compound interest in the foreseeable future. India has laid the foundations 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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Disclaimer

The views expressed above are those of the author.



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