India’s Transformation at 75 with Emerging Technologies

A message for the souvenier of the International Seminar on Transformation of India @ 75 at St. Bede’s College, Shimla

After centuries of colonial rule, India gained independence and began rebuilding its economy and society in 1947. Over the past 75 years, India has emerged as one of the fastest developing nations and a global leader in several fields, undergoing significant transformation in economic, social, political, and primarily technological spheres. Heading to its 76th year of Independence, India is on a cusp of a significant transformation, with emerging technologies playing a vital role. These technologies, ranging from artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to 5G and the internet of things (IoT), are revolutionizing every area of the economy, from agriculture and healthcare to education and manufacturing.

The "Digital India" initiative, which strives to build a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, is at the vanguard of this revolution. The project has been a smashing success, with the number of internet users in the nation predicted to reach 900 million by 2025, up from 692 million in 2020, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). One of the crucial drivers for the increase in internet users is the proliferation of mobile phones, which are increasingly used to access the internet. The cost of smartphones is decreasing quickly, enabling more people to connect to the internet, especially in rural regions, and take advantage of the opportunities it provides.

In this message, I would like to highlight emerging technologies' role in India's transformations since independence, the challenges faced, and the way forward.

Economic Transformation

The Indian economy has transformed into one of the leading world economies despite the hardships and the exploitation of its resources in the colonial era. In the early 1990s, India embarked on economic reforms that liberalized its economy, made it more accessible to global markets, and used technology to achieve new heights. India places a high value on innovation and entrepreneurship, and it has used emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to fuel economic growth.

The promotion of digital payments and the push for a cashless economy has aided in increasing financial inclusion and decreasing corruption. Adding to that, using blockchain technology for safe and transparent transactions can potentially transform the Indian financial system. Agriculture is another important field in which emerging technologies are applied in India. Agriculture is vital to the country, and the usage of technology such as precision farming, IoT sensors, and drones is assisting in improving efficiency, lowering costs, and increasing yields. This, in turn, helps to promote the rural economy and raise farmers' living standards.

Social Transformation

Throughout the last 75 years, India has undergone significant social transformations. Many efforts to empower citizens and women, in particular, have been introduced. These include the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save the Girl Child, Educate the Girl Child) campaign and the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, which gives financial aid to pregnant mothers, Swacch Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), Skill India, and Ayushman Bharat. These measures, along with increasing access to education and career possibilities, have considerably improved societal transformation in India.

Emerging technologies have played a critical part in the country's social development and successfully implementing change initiatives through boosting communication, increasing access to information, and empowering individuals and communities. With social media, mobile applications, and cloud computing, India has been able to transcend societal barriers and enhance the lives of its population. Individuals may now communicate with one another, share information, and raise awareness about significant social issues via social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media has also played an important part in the country's anti-corruption effort, encouraging individuals to report wrongdoing and hold public officials responsible.

Mobile applications allow people access to essential services such as healthcare, education, and money. Individuals may now access healthcare services, online education, and financial services from the comfort of their homes thanks to mobile applications like Practo, Byju's, and Paytm. These applications have also aided in bridging the urban-rural divide by enabling persons living in distant locations to access essential services. Cloud computing has enabled access to information and improved communication. Cloud computing has enabled individuals and organizations to store and access data from anywhere. This has helped individuals and organizations to collaborate, share information, and improve communication. Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Vinay Thakur (Managing Director, NICSIManaging Director, NICSI National Informatics Centre Services Inc (NICSI). Ministry of Electronics and IT . Govt of India), from whom I learned that over 500,000 outreach centers had been established across India to enable citizens in a remote location to access emerging Technologies.

Political Transformation

At the time of independence, India chose a democratic system of government with a federal structure. The world's biggest democracy, India, has been utilizing emerging technology to effect political change through increased transparency, efficiency, and accessibility of the political system to citizens. E-governance has made the delivery of government services more efficient and convenient. People can access government services and initiatives online through multiple websites and mobile applications. This has resulted in less corruption and greater transparency in the political system. The website links to over 6,700 other government websites. Another significant endeavor, which has brought about a profound political change, is political parties and leaders' use of social media channels to engage with citizens. In recent years, social media has evolved as a potent instrument for political communication, playing an essential role in changing public opinion. Political leaders and parties use social media to reach the public, share information, and rally support for their campaigns. Additionally, to secure the central pillar of democracy, fair and transparent elections, various solutions using emerging technologies are being developed. In the next decade, these could further the political change to have a thriving effect on democracy.

Technological Transformation

In recent years, India has also seen a substantial technical shift, leading to high diffusion of emerging technologies in business, society, and policy. With the growth of the internet and mobile phones, India has emerged as one of the world's most significant users of digital technology. The country's IT sector is quickly expanding, with some Indian businesses gaining worldwide success. India is fast becoming a prominent player in the global technological environment. With a strong emphasis on innovation and adoption, Many efforts and policies have driven this shift, transforming the country into one of the world's most dynamic and rapidly developing technology marketplaces.

India has aggressively promoted new technologies such as AI, Blockchain, Cloud Computing, the Internet of Things, and Cybersecurity to foster digital transformation across multiple industries. Many programmes such as Digital India, Startup India, and Made in India are being run to promote the use of these technologies and create a favorable environment for startups and entrepreneurs. The Digital India initiative, established in 2015, has been giving the country's people universal digital connection and access. The initiative has aided in adopting emerging technology in various industries, including healthcare, education, and agriculture. The project has also assisted in developing the country's digital infrastructure, which has helped grow digital startups and enterprises. Launched in 2016, the Startup India programme aims to foster the growth of startups and entrepreneurship in the country. The project offers companies a variety of incentives, including tax breaks, finance assistance, and regulatory assistance. The programme has been essential in fostering an atmosphere conducive to startup innovation and the adoption of emerging technology. The Make in India project, announced in 2014, intends to encourage manufacturing and position India as a worldwide manufacturing powerhouse. The programme has played an essential role in attracting foreign investment in the technology sector and fostering the adoption of new technologies in the industrial sector.

Concluding remarks

To summarise, using new technologies drives a technological transition in India, with the government playing a critical role in supporting their acceptance. The country is primed to develop as a worldwide technological hotspot in the future, thanks to a favorable climate for startups and entrepreneurs. Notwithstanding India's considerable transformation over the last 75 years, the country still confronts several difficulties that may be addressed via emerging technologies and DeepTech.

To end, I would like to add the best wishes and success to all associated with the International Seminar on Transformation of India @ 75 at St. Bede’s College, Shimla.