The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) organised the 17th India Digital Summit (IDS), in association with Google and MessageBird. The event brought together over 150 speakers, including policymakers, regulators, industry captains and subject stalwarts in more than 60 sessions, with a representation from over 500 digital brands, and participation of over 3000 delegates.

Speaking at the event, Dr. P D Vaghela, Chairman, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), said that India has a demographic advantage in IT talent and a fast-growing start-up culture that can be used to its utmost potential for the country to become a world leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Quoting a PwC research, he noted that AI could boost the world economy by up to $15.7 trillion by 2030.

Further, in his address, Dr. Vaghela extensively spoke about 5G and 6G use-cases and how the government was increasingly supporting research and development (R&D) for different use cases. “The road ahead is full of exciting challenges and opportunities and one thing is certain that the future of India rests on our ability to embrace new technologies, respond to technology disruptions and seize the right opportunities. The government is already promoting start-up ecosystem and with over 5 billion IT professionals, India already boasts the largest IT talent in the world. And with startups capitalising on digital governance, I am sure that India@2047 will be a force to reckon with,” Dr. Vaghela asserted.

Additionally, he noted that TRAI intends to regulate the sector with transparency while also promoting competition and safeguarding the rights of citizens.

Meanwhile, referring to the theme of IDS 2023, Amrit Kaal: Digital India@100, Dr. Vaghela pointed out the need to re-emphasize the eight crucial governance issues for India’s journey over the next 25 years. These include: 1) how to revamp our digital governance infrastructure, 2) challenges arising out of convergence and reduced investment cycles due to technology disruptions, 3) identifying appropriate technologies, keeping in mind our demographic advantage, the strength of our IT skills and strength of the SME sector, 4) boosting local manufacturing of digital equipment, 5) keeping technology at the core of policy formulation, 6) practical implementation of whole of the government approach through a collaborative approach, 7) pursuing sustainable and equitable whole of society approach and ensuring socio-economic, digital inclusion and 8) strengthening cybersecurity, bringing in vibrant privacy law and protecting citizens from spam and frauds.

Further, Sanjay Gupta, country head and VP, Google India, and Chairman, IAMAI, said, “India presents a unique crucible for technology-solutions that can surmount India’s vast disparities and guaranteed to succeed anywhere in the world. As the UPI example has shown, India’s unique crucible can poise companies not only to power an  Atmanirbhar Bharat, but to take it a step further towards a Bharat-Nirbhar Vishwa. A lighthouse example of tech multiplier is UPI which turbocharged the digital economy in India. Today, India is home to the highest real-time payments in the world. This is incredible on two counts. One – this is an entirely homegrown concept, nobody else in the world had done it before and two – India is arguably one of the most complex markets in the world to operate in – in terms of infrastructure and access standpoint.”

Additionally, Gupta also pointed out some priorities for India’s tech sector. He emphasised being collaborative, thoughtful, and leaned-in towards policy conversations. He added, “For the Indian tech industry to continue growing, it must foster deep trust and conviction in its ability to improve the lives of society universally – irrespective of gender, place of birth, or language preference. It is imperative for the industry to prioritise safety, privacy, and equity as defaults in our charters – not something to tick off a list, or comply with as asked, but values that work as guideposts.”

As per Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Dr. Rajesh Pant, AVSM, VSM National Cyber Security Coordinator, National Security Council Secretariat of India, government of India, “Companies should invest more than 10 per cent of information technology assets in cybersecurity. In the future, once 5G comes, we expect the 5 billion internet users to reach 25 billion by the end of this year and therefore, companies must invest in security. Never compromise on the security part. Speaking of the ‘splinternet’ concept, Dr. Pant pointed out, “Because of this splinternet and lack of cooperation between nations, the criminals are taking advantage as there are no international laws and regulations which help the agencies for solving cybercrimes. The World Economic Forum has been saying that cybercrime is the biggest manmade risk to the economic progress of a nation. Last year the total loss was estimated to be $6 trillion. At the national level, we created the National Counter Ransomware Task Force under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Other national-level initiatives include the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre which handles the cybercrime portal, where one can report cybercrimes. India also has the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC), which has about 580 people that monitor and predict cyber threats. Some 7 critical sectors have been identified out of which 2 supercritical ones are power and telecom.”

Meanwhile, talking about international-level solutions for cybercrime, Dr. Pant said that like-minded nations including India, Australia, UK, and the US, were getting together. “We have created an International Counter Ransomware Task Force where perpetrators are put under sanctions. It has saved about $150 million,” he mentioned. Closing his speech, Dr. Pant highlighted the three hard truths of cyber security – vulnerability, cyber-attacks, and attribution. He added that the two mantras for the post-Covid digital world were: personal health and cyber hygiene.”

Also, Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, said, “In this rapid digital world, somebody has to protect the fragile consumers without them being an impediment to the advancement of technology. The whole consumer protection paradigm is about fair trading practices. You might be the world’s largest company but the balance between the seller and consumer needs to be maintained. India is strong, resilient, robust, which has absorbed the shocks and bounced back. An anti-fragile nation is one that bounces back, provides better delivery and better solution, and is better than what it was before the shock. The Covid crisis, the Ukraine geopolitical crisis and many other things happening across the world have proven that India now is anti-fragile with a capacity to bounce back.”

Elaborating on technology disruption over the years he said, “Internet has changed from provider of information to interaction, to transaction and now is on the verge of transformation. However, we are yet to fully realise the last milestone, which is transformation.”