How tech has been used in politics and governance

by May 27, 2022 0 comments

Edited excerpts from an exhaustive video interview with Arvind Gupta, Co-founder & Head, Digital India Foundation

“In the early days, the PC as a proxy for technology and data has been there in the political process in a very loose sense. Parties had websites and emails would go out. Parties were using the PC for their internal accounting, processes and maintaining their own party workers’ database. Come election time they would probably use it for voter analysis. That is how it was limited till 2011-12.

The Social Media era

When leaders launched their own websites or blogs, it was considered mainline news. Even when the current Prime Minister came on social media in the 2010-11 timeframe, it was big-time news because he was the first leader in that. But people made the comment: Too much Tweeting will lead to quitting.

The highest usage of social media in the world for campaigning which produced a distinct advantage for the current Prime Minister was in the 2014 elections. The use of data analytics was such a big disruption. The use of outreach based on technology was a pivotal moment and everybody understood the benefits of using this.

The problems with technology

What are the problems that we’ve seen over the last ten years, especially in the last 4-5 years? The whole battle in the world is around a few areas. Misuse of data. We saw platforms becoming really big without governance. There are issues around privacy and transparency. But the biggest battle we have today is fake news and misinformation. We didn’t have these problems 10 years ago. Or you never thought about these problems. You had a PC, you opened the PC, you did your things, and went away. Today you are worried if you have your location on the phone or whether some app is sharing your data with third parties. But India is doing a very good job of balancing policy, innovation, privacy and new tech as it is coming along.

Using tech to take governance to next level

For making more trust in technology, we need a global adoption of standards on public platforms. India is already leading that. We have this whole India Stack: Aadhaar, UPI, DigiLocker… We’ve created the health stack. We are creating stacks related to eCommerce, skills, etc. Going forward things like wearables and IoTs will become even more pervasive. With things like a drone policy, you will see newer economies leapfrogging with India leading the way. India will set new standards for governance.

One thing Covid has shown is that when revenue becomes strained and you have limited revenue, you need to make sure that the dollar or Rupee amount is spent more judiciously and that’s where technology will help a lot. India is already getting its rightful place in the global world order.

When the Prime Minister went to Silicon Valley in 2015, he said that not only have Indians mastered the art of leading companies and becoming CEOs there, but we are now making sure that India also is benefiting from the expertise that we have. The brain bank that we have globally is also benefiting India as a society and a country.”

These are excerpts from a video chat with Editor Sunil Rajguru and part of our PCQuest 35 Years Series on the Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow of Technology.

Check out the complete interview…

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