India has prioritised research and development in different tech sectors over the past few decades as successive governments have increased their focus on science and technology. The fields that have seen the fastest integration of technology are automation, big data, blockchain, distributed architecture, and Internet of Things (IoT), according to a recent report by Deloitte. Last year, India’s tech sector reportedly grew by 15.5 percent, the highest-ever growth achieved so to date, with a revenue of $227 billion (roughly Rs.18,89,700 crore).
Under the government’s Digital India initiative — that has seen hardware makers like Apple move some of their manufacturing from China to the country — India now aims to slash its dependency for day-to-day tech requirements on foreign players. It is estimated that India produces around 2.6 million software developers each year that are capable of generating and implementing tech solutions from across the globe.
On India’s 77th Independence Day, we briefly revisit the country’s recent milestones in the adoption of modern technology.
SG Network Rollout
India has become one of the fastest countries to roll out 5G networks since it was announced in the country last year. Telecom majors like Reliance Jio and Airtel have been at the forefront of this big high-speed Internet revolution and have signed contracts with Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung to rapidly roll out 5G network services in the country.
Nearly a year after the 5G rollout began, most cities in India already have high-speed 5G Internet access and coverage is rolling out to other regions — the expected timeline for pan-India 5G connectivity is expected to take place by the end of 2024.
On July 14, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched Chandrayaan-3, the country’s third Moon mission. Chandrayaan-3 has been created with a budget of Rs. 615 crores (roughly $74 million and is equipped with a lander, a rover and a propulsion module. It weighs around 3,900kg.
The spacecraft’s lunar landing is scheduled for August 23. It will then operate for one lunar day — approximately 14 Earth days. “Chandrayaan-3 is a very important step…Landing this time is very important. Unless you land, you cannot take samples, you cannot land human beings, and you cannot create moon bases. So, landing is one important step for further exploration,” ISRO chief S Somanath was quoted as saying at the time of the launch.
Web3 and Fintech
Over 300 million Indians use the unified payments interface (UPI) developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) allowing them to make instant bank-to-bank transfers in real time. UPI also allows retailers to accept payments online, reducing their dependency on cash notes. The Reserve Bank of India is also exploring the use of its e-Rupee, a central bank digital currency (CBDC). As part of its presidency over the G20 group of nations, India is working on drafting crypto rules that would make the volatile digital assets sector safer for people to engage with.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, technology helped the long-distance learning sector, powered by 5G, apps and platforms that enabled edtech services. These companies provided study materials and topic explanations, while enabling teachers to assist students online.
Online practice tests also helped millions of Indian students continue with their education amid the COVID-19 lockdowns. The Indian edtech market reportedly generated a revenue of $4.3 billion (roughly Rs. 35,726 crore) in 2022 and grew by 16.8 percent between 2017 and 2022.
Data Protection and Privacy
This month, the government finally passed the Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023. The newly passed law comes after six years of the Supreme Court judgment that held the right to Privacy was a fundamental right of all citizens in the country, and includes provisions to curb the misuse of individuals’ data by online platforms.
Under this law, the government requires foreign web service providers to store the data of Indian users within India’s territory while also giving nationals the right to make changes to their information online.
Geopolitical tensions between India-China escalated between 2020 and 2021 as the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. In a bid to protect India’s Web ecosystem from cyber threats, the government banned several Chinese apps and pushed native developers to create apps for day-to-day use for Indians.
As of March 2022, over 150,000 apps made by Indian developers were estimated to be on App Store and Google Play store. At present, several homegrown apps in areas of social networking, news, travel, shopping, lifestyle, and business are available in India.
The alarming repercussions of the post COVID-19 world have left a deep impact on the consciousness of citizens around the world. At present, several Indians, have bought fitness trackers that let them keep an eye on their fitness levels, tracking their water intake with reminders at regular intervals, and monitoring their blood pressure.
Many of these bands are manufactured in India. The domestic wearable healthcare market is projected to grow to $1.26 billion by 2025, up from $310.4 million in 2020. Meanwhile, states like Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand have already begun testing drones for quick deliveries of emergency medical supplies like vaccines, anti-snake-bite venom, and lab samples or results.
Upcoming Developments in the Pipeline
India’s IT ministry is now planning to launch a national browser for India, the development of which will be tasked on Indian software engineers.
While a bunch of multinational tech firms in the Silicon Valley like Microsoft, Google, Adobe, IBM, and Mastercard are being run by CEOs of Indian origin, aforementioned developments indicate that India’s quest to become self-reliant in technology is pacing on an upward curve.