India was a unique story of govt-led digital disruption: Harvard Business Review

Visitors walk past a sign for a digital or cashless economy at a Digital Wealth Fair promoting e-payments in Mumbai on January 3, 2017.

India has opted for a digital pathway to move at an unprecedented rate into the future, but the country still has a long way to go to reach its full potential, according to an article published in a leading US- based management magazine.

The write up carried in the ‘Harvard Business Review’ on Wednesday said that India was a unique story of government-led digital disruption and is building a digitally-empowered society.

“Rather than seek to slow that process to reduce those challenges, India has taken the opposite approach: to not only embrace, but to accelerate digital disruption to ensure that it realises its full potential for economic and social inclusion,” said the article titled ‘How India is moving toward a digital-first economy’.

India’s development was inequitable and inconsistent for far too long, said the two scholars -Arvind Gupta and Philip Auerswald – who wrote the article, adding that the country still has a long way to go to reach its full potential.

Gupta, head of technology for BJP party, is Eisenhower Innovation Fellow, and member of World Economic Forum’s Digital Economy & Society Futures Council.

Auerswald is an Associate Professor at the Schar School for Policy and Government, George Mason University.

They said the process of digital disruption, whether or not led by the government, creates numerous, significant social challenges.

The societal challenges created by digital disruption, both expected and unintended, are real, they wrote.

“They will only be addressed with a combination of administrative humility and entrepreneurial determination. But the long-term benefits are real as well,” it said.

According to the article, India Stack is envisioned as a new social infrastructure with the capacity to increase the resilience of Indian society to change and to help propel India into the 21st century digital economy.

India Stack refers to a project of creating a unified software platform to bring India’s population into the digital age.

“The deployment of the India Stack was one significant precondition for major structural reforms undertaken by the Narendra Modi government. This brings us back to demonetisation and implementation of tax reforms,” they said.

According to the write-up, India is adding almost 110 million smartphone users every year and is on the verge of launching Aadhaar compliant devices with biometric authentication built into phones and tablets.

The power of the Jan Dhan-Aadhaar and Mobile number (JAM) trinity will come into full force when the transactions are enabled using Aadhaar and biometric authentication, creating a system that is not only cashless but card-less, it said.

Already, a new entrant into telecommunications service in India succeeded in using the India Stack to enrol 108 million consumers in 170 days with a totally paperless, mobile-centric process, achieving customer acquisition costs of less than one US dollar per customer as compared with the prior industry standard of $ 25, it said.