Governance of Digital Public Infrastructure: India’s Approach

11 Sep 2023

Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys and Founding Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), was invited as a keynote speaker in the Governance for Data Empowerment event, co-hosted by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and Sahamati. In his speech, Nandan Nilekani emphasized the crucial role of governance and the need for human-centric technology in shaping digital technology for societal benefit and empowering individuals and small businesses.

Nilekani pointed out the deficiencies of the current internet, such as the absence of verifiable identity, limited control over personal data, and inefficient payment systems. He showcased India’s pioneering efforts in building essential public goods like identity and payment systems within its Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) framework, underlining the importance of embedding governance through laws, regulations, institutions, and technologies to drive innovation.

As he delved into the evolution of governance in India’s DPIs, Nilekani highlighted the transition from mission-driven projects to API-based platforms. Nilekani underscored the necessity of parallel implementation of laws, institutions, and technology protocols, with examples like Aadhaar and UPI showcasing the power of interoperable systems.

Nilekani emphasized the need for a corporate structure that attracts top talent and provides stability for government initiatives, quoting institutions like NPCI and GSTN, which have been instrumental in modernizing India’s payments and taxation systems. Further, he applauded the cross-sectoral approach to data governance in the AA ecosystem and the role of Sahamati in enabling participatory governance.

In conclusion, Nilekani emphasized the transformative potential of open protocols and the need for stakeholder coordination to bring about significant societal changes. He noted India’s exponential growth and equitable economic development due to DPIs, which has sparked a global interest in their adoption, with plans for international implementation supported by dedicated institutions and agreements. Nilekani’s keynote laid a roadmap for inclusive, technology-driven governance that can shape the digital infrastructure of nations worldwide.

Listen to Nandan Nilekani speaking at the event here. This workshop was co-hosted by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and Sahamati. Check out the event link for more speakers and their blogs: