India diplomatically debuts digital public infrastructure repository with international contributions

India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has created the Global Digital Public Infrastructure Repository – a collection of code created by governments, made freely available to other nations.

Digital public infrastructure (DPI) is a signature policy of India’s government, which has championed the idea that governments should open source their own apps so that other nations can more quickly create digital services by re-using existing code.

Altruism is not India’s only aim: sharing Indian projects like the Aadhaar digital identity framework, or the Unified Payments Interface – both of which are proven to operate at billion-user scale – is seen as a way for India to enhance its relationships with other nations. Code-led diplomacy that accelerates digital development also contrasts markedly with China’s approach of funding and assisting construction of physical infrastructure.

India used its presidency of the G20 bloc to advance the cause of DPI, and this year’s summit meeting of member nations secured the creation of a framework that defines the concept and offers governance guidance.

While launching the repository, Indian prime minister Narendara Modi advanced the cause of DPU by also announcing India has chipped in $25 million to a “Social Impact Fund” – billed as a “government-led, multistakeholder initiative to fast-track DPI implementation in the global south.”

The fund was described as a platform to “help accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Low- and Middle-Income Countries through DPIs” and will offer financial support to provide assistance to develop and implement DPI.

India’s own mega-projects for identity, payments, and cloud storage are obviously included, but it’s an international effort. The repository contains 54 pieces of DPI from 15 nations and the European Union.

Japan has chipped in with its experimental Trusted Web tech that aims to root out fake news.

Several digital identity frameworks and payment schemes are available, and COVID-19 management tools are another common category of code on offer.

India is the largest contributor, with a dozen projects. Oman’s nine projects makes it the second-most-prolific contributor, followed by France with five.

Russia has contributed its Unified Digital Platform and Unified Portal of Public and Municipal Services – perhaps for governments that want to learn how authoritarians do tech? ®


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