The economy has started benefiting from the efficiency gains resulting from greater formalization, higher financial inclusion, and economic opportunities created by digital technology-based economic reforms, according to the Economic Survey 2023 that was released on Tuesday. "The use of technology, in particular digital technology, undergirds the reforms," it noted.
The survey underscored that the world has "moved seamlessly from the focus on physical infrastructure to investing in digital infrastructure". Moving forward, the survey predicts that it is "almost a certainty that most of the future real-world applications are going to marry the two, something akin to that attempted under Smart Cities, that interlocks area-based development with digital assets and digital services".
The survey has lauded the "adaptability displayed by the citizens towards technology-driven changes", and asserts that this "confluence of digitisation and innovation acted as a game changer for India". According to the survey, the rollout of 5G services can unleash new economic opportunities and help the country leapfrog the traditional barriers to development, spur innovations by start-ups and business enterprises, and advance the 'Digital India' vision. It concludes: "The journey is far from complete, and a lot remains to be accomplished to realize our true potential". Here are some highlights from the survey.
Data usage: Decision to share data and information between Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) is a promising reform, and would result in efficiency gains in the tax system.
MSMEs: Digital platforms including the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), Goods and Services Trade Network (GSTN) and Account Aggregator have created more opportunities for MSMEs by simplifying payment methods and providing access ecommerce technology, diversify their target markets, and easy credit.
Blockchain: CBIC has launched a pilot project for implementation of Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTS) based on blockchain technology to track the movement of goods from the port to a warehouse at ICD Tughlakabad, ensuring secured documentation and GPS based tracking of containers.
Education: Under the ICT component of the Samagra Shiksha Scheme, the government supports the establishment of smart classrooms, and ICT labs in schools, including support for hardware, educational software, and e-content for teaching.
Tech institutes are rising: Number of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) stands at 23 while there were 25 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) in 2022 against just 9 in 2014.
Rural push: Taking digitisation and technology to the rural economy has also been a key aspect of the rural development agenda, be it in agricultural activities or governance.
Solar Power: The mission of International Solar Alliance (ISA) is to unlock US$ 1 trillion of investments in solar by 2030 while reducing the cost of the technology and its financing. The push towards self-reliance in semiconductor technology and production will help India erect another pillar of this revolution.
Development of Hyperloop technology: The Indian Railways has collaborated with IIT Madras for developing Hyperloop Technology by setting up Centre of Excellence for Hyperloop Technology at IIT Madras at the cost of ₹8.34 crore.
Manufacturing: India now has the physical and digital infrastructure to raise the share of the manufacturing sector in the economy and make a realistic bid to be an important player in global supply chains.