Discussions will centre around digital skill development, digital public infrastructure, and cyber security

With India emerging as a leader in the global digital revolution, it is keen to showcase its achievements to the world. Accelerating digital transformation across the spectrum will be a major focus area of India’s G20 presidency and diplomatic outreach in months to come.

Action is already visible in this direction. In January, the Union Government set up India’s G20 Task Force on Digital Public Infrastructure for Economic Transformation, Financial Inclusion and Development. It is co-chaired by India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant and Infosys Chairman Nandan Nilekani.

The task force will oversee and facilitate achieving India’s G20 Presidency agenda and priorities on digital public infrastructure, financial inclusion, promoting digital identity, improved and innovative technology-based services including digital payments system like UPI along with the governance frameworks.

The first meeting of the G20 Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG) will be held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh from February 13-15. It is expected to focus on three main areas – digital skill development, digital public infrastructure, and cyber security.

A Digital India Mobile Van was unveiled in New Delhi on February 2; it was launched by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow on February 5 in the run-up to the DEWG meeting. The van will also tour other cities across the country, informing citizens about the G20 DEWG as well as key initiatives of Digital India.

Earlier, on December 28, 2022, Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw launched the ‘Stay Safe Online’ campaign and the ‘G20 Digital Innovation Alliance’ (G20-DIA). The DIA aims to identify, recognize and facilitate the adoption of impactful and innovative digital technologies developed by start-ups from G20 countries as well as the invited non-member nations.

India's Digital Economy Growing at Fast Pace

An article published in the December 2022 monthly bulletin of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made some interesting observations.

1. India’s core digital economy (hardware, software publishing, web publishing, telecommunication services, and specialized and support services) increased from 5.4 per cent of Gross Value Addition (GVA) in 2014 to 8.5 per cent in 2019. Including the sectors that have witnessed digital disruptions, the share of digitally dependent economy hover around 22 per cent in 2019.

2. India’s digital economy grew 2.4 times faster than the Indian economy, with strong forward linkages to the non-digital sectors. The digital output multiplier has increased over time, highlighting the role of digital economy investments to drive growth.

3. The employment estimates show that 4.9 million people were employed in the core digital sector. Considering the total digitally dependent economy, around 62.4 million workers are employed in digitally disrupted sectors.

Data for Development

The principle of “Data for development” will be an integral part of the overall theme of India's Presidency “One Earth, One Family, One Future”. India sees digital transformation as the key to reaching sustainable development goals on poverty, education, health, and direct benefit transfer.

India will also work with other G20 countries to ensure that the benefits of digital transformation should not be confined to a small part of the human race. Going forward, digital and going green are big opportunities.

“There are 400 million people who do not have a digital identity; 200 million people do not have a bank account; about 133 countries do not even have fast payments. So, this is a massive opportunity to use to transform the world,” India's G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant had said last year.

G20 and the Global Digital Economy

Ministers from G20 member states tasked with governing the digital space met in April 2017 and discussed a road map for digitialisation in an interconnected world.

The German presidency also initiated the G20 Digital Economy Task Force the same year.

The digital economy went on to receive more attention in the subsequent years. In 2019, the G20 issued a ministerial statement in trade and digital economy.

The G20 Digital Economy Working Group (DEWG) was established in 2021, under the Italian presidency.