PAKISTAN'S Students are very, very idealistic. So, the very moment they get to read this ''catalyst'',  this ' master essay publishing ', they for sure, would wish to know where e-governance in Pakistan stands viz-a-viz India.

So I avail myself of the honour and ask Juniper, [Japan & Singapore] for the latest research on Pakistan's e-government. '' J,.. plz try not to exceed 2000 words. Thanks, in advance. ''

CTRL -ALT- DELHI : !WOW! : INDIA PLANS TO EXPORT e-government technology to other countries.

BURIED on page 22 of the 29-page G20 leaders' declaration [ excluding annexures ], produced in New Delhi in September and endorsed by the world's biggest economies, is a section with the anodyne title of '' Technological Transformation and Digital Public Infrastructure ''.

It is filled with the sort of forgettable jargon that big diplomatic summits are notorious for producing, It is also something that the world should expect to hear a lot more about in 2024.

The statement defines digital political infrastructure [DPI] as '' a set of shared digital systems [that] can enable delivery of services of societal scale. '' That means things like biometric identity systems, digital payments and data management.

Over the past decade India has taken advantage of its huge pool of skilled technical labour to build such services for its own citizens.

AADHAAR, its digital-identity system, now covers nearly the entire population of 1.4 billion. Transactions on its United Payments Interface [UPI] are growing rapidly - more than 10 billion payments and transfers were made in August 2023 - up from 1 billion in October 2019.

DIGI LOCKER, an online warehouse for official documents, such as drivers' license and tax records, has made dealing with India's tiresome bureaucracy easier.

Buoyed by the success of such innovations at home, the government of Naraendra Modi, the prime minister, wants to export its technologies to other poor countries.

He sees it as a means to extend India's influence, diplomats relish winning goodwill at low cost, tech doyens see it as an endorsement of their abilities. But to reap these rewards, India needs a mechanism to institutionalise its efforts.

So far it has relied on bilateral agreements, a slower and less flashy way of going about things.

The G20 offered the perfect stage to boost the profile of DPI. Among India's achievements at the summit was the adoption of a framework for '' the development, deployment and Governance of DPI ''  and endorsement of its plan for a global repository for DPI products.

The UN Development Programme, the World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, have shown support.

The targets are chiefly in Africa and Asia. In 2024, more are likely to adopt India's identity system or its payment technology. Linkages will grow between UPI and home-grown systems in other countries, especially those with a large number of Indian migrants, making remittances easier.

The growing visibility and adoption of India's technology will also bring greater scrutiny.

Some of India's digital systems, including its vaccination database and identity systems, have proved vulnerable to data leaks.

The success of UPI obscures the fact that its providers have yet to work out how to charge users without driving away merchants and buyers.     

NOT EVERY COUNTRY has the technical capacity to implement and maintain complex digital projects without expensive outside support.

In 2024, India hopes to see its technology celebrated. It should also be prepared to have its robustness tested.

The World Students Society thanks Leo Mirani Asia correspondent, The Economist, Mumbai.


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