Inter-governmental body Shanghai Cooperation Organization members have unanimously adopted India’s proposal for developing Digital Public Infrastructure. The proposal includes platforms such as Aadhaar, United Payments Interface (UPI), and DigiLocker. This was done during a recently held meeting of Digital Ministers of SCO member. The meeting was chaired by India.


What is Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI)?

  • DPI refers to platforms such as identification (ID), payment and data exchange systems that help countries deliver vital services to their people.
  • Put simply, DPIs mediate the flow of people, money and information.
  • In this context, the following three sets become the foundation for developing an effective DPI ecosystem —
      • First, the flow of people through a digital ID System.
      • Second, the flow of money through a real-time fast payment system.
      • And third, the flow of personal information through a consent-based data sharing system to actualise the benefits of DPIs and to empower the citizen with a real ability to control data.


Benefits of DPI

  • Promotion of economic activities and support to inclusive growth —
      • Countries are using DPI to implement widespread adoption of digital payments, data-sharing infrastructures, and growing their e-commerce sector.
      • It has the potential to transform economies and support inclusive growth. Eg., Aadhar, UPI, and Jan Dhan were instrumental in promoting financial inclusion in India.
  • To address common challenges as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals —
      • DPI can drive forward global efforts to address our common challenges as outlined in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals — everything from advancing gender equality to restoring our natural world. E.g., Data in Climate Resilient Agriculture, or DiCRA, program in India.
      • It makes climate data accessible — providing instant information on where, when, and what to plant, thereby boosting livelihoods and enhancing food security.
  • Efficient service delivery — 
      • Like health, education, or social protection systems or even public parks and libraries, societies need infrastructure to function.
      • That is also true for DPI. Citizens can access public services 24 hours a day at their fingertips.
  • Support during COVID-19 crisis —
      • Countries that used digital databases to extend social assistance programs such as cash transfers during the COVID-19 pandemic were able to reach more than half of their populations on average.
      • E.g., India was able to vaccinate one billion people within a matter of months due to an existing digital vaccination registration system known as CoWIN.