Climate change is one of the major challenges on the developmental aspect; which negatively impacts every process of growth. As part of our efforts to achieve environmentally sustainable economic growth, we must be committed to reducing the effects of climate change. Since the countries of South Asia are rapidly growing and particularly vulnerable to changes in climate; any situation has a significant impact on them. If we can't meet the climatic issues now, there's a good risk that the rest of the world won't be able to either. Without significant measures to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, the planet is expected to warm much more rapidly than previously predicted. According to a new assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (1PCC), which was prepared by the world’s foremost climate scientists, rising temperatures will lead to catastrophic weather extremes also resulting in rising sea levels in the coming years.1 The report states that human activity is “unambiguously” to blame for more severe climate events such as heat waves, floods, and droughts, and attaining net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is a must. As outlined in the Paris Agreement, it was required to keep the global temperature change to 1.5°C. Despite the fact that Southeast Asian countries are expected to be among the most hit by climate change, the majority of the region’s governments lack carbon reduction policies that will effectively decrease the severity of climate hazards. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise despite widely-promised climate action by the world’s bigger carbon polluters (developed countries), a global warming increase of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a marker that world leaders pledged not to exceed this century when the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, could be reached by 2030— possibly sooner. Under all emission scenarios, the climate-critical 1.5°C temperature increase is likely to arrive a decade earlier than 1PCC predicted three years ago. It is also predicted that Southeast Asia, is one of the planet’s most vulnerable regions to climate change. Sea levels are rising faster than elsewhere, and shorelines are retreating in coastal areas where 450 million people reside, even though Southeast Asia is expected to warm slightly less than the global average. According to a new study, rising seas are expected to cost Asia’s largest cities billions of dollars of damage this decade, with the impact magnified by tectonic shifts and the consequences of groundwater removal. It is evident that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is a major challenge that can only be met if urgent worldwide action is taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions and conserve and restore ecosystems. Our response to climate change should begin with a focus on priorities like expanding the use of clean and renewable energy. Since 1990, South Asia’s emissions have increased by 3.3 per cent each year. Due to its strong reliance on coal, India has risen to become the world’s seventh-largest greenhouse gas emitter, despite the fact that per capita and per unit of greenhouse gas emissions in India remain the lowest among the other developing countries by worldwide standards. Coal will continue to dominate power generation in India for the foreseeable future. To lower the carbon intensity of the electricity sector, energy efficiency must be combined with technical improvements. Parallel to this, renewable energy production and regional energy trading must be bolstered while environmental stresses are taken into account. Higher temperatures and the risks posed by extreme weather events, such as increased sedimentation from flooding that could harm hydropower, necessitate measures to deal with rising peak electrical demands. Sustainable economic growth requires a more robust energy sector. India should work in collaboration with industry associations, domestic banks, specialised energy efficiency agencies, and service companies, to upgrade transmission and distribution systems, and promote clean technology and renewable energy development. Entire South Asia has long been one of the world s least urbanised regions, with urban populations accounting for only about 28% of the region’s total population of 1.4 billion people. However, urban growth rates of 2.53 per cent have surpassed global and regional averages (UN Population Division 2007)4, putting the country’s cities on a high growth trajectory towards development. Sudden spikes in urban-rural movement due to climate changes and other variables will exacerbate infrastructure gaps, social service shortages, and urban management challenges associated with the region’s largely unplanned urbanisation. Climate threats such as sea-level rise, rising temperatures, and extreme weather events will aggravate South Asian cities’ susceptibility. Coastal and major river delta areas that are 10 metres or less above sea level5 are home to around 14% of the region’s metropolitan population, totaling about 400 million people. The megacities of Delhi, Dhaka, Kolkata, and Mumbai will be the most affected. According to Climate Vulnerability Index6 (CVI), Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Bihar are highly vulnerable to extreme climate events such as floods, droughts, and cyclones. It also says that more than 80 per cent of India’s population lives in districts highly vulnerable to extreme hydro-met disasters. A district-by-district climate action plan is essential because most Indian districts are vulnerable to extreme weather occurrences. Only 63 per cent of Indian districts have a District Disaster Management Plan, according to the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) report. With the cost of the climate crisis rising exponentially, India would require green finance for adaptation-based climate action. Developed countries must reclaim trust at COP26 by delivering the USD 100 billion promised since 2009 and committing to increasing climate finance over the next decade. In addition, India must collaborate with other countries to establish a Global Resilience Reserve Fund, which could function as a form of climate insurance. Over 400 financial institutions with a combined asset value of over USD 130 trillion (through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero or GFANZ)7 have pledged to align their portfolios to net-zero by 2030. This new coalition demonstrates that banks, asset managers, and asset owners understand the business case tor climate action as well as the severe risks of investing in the previous high-carbon, polluting economy. The issue now is for these institutions to scale up action at the necessary pace, set intermediate milestones that match with their net-zero goals, and transparently report on their progress, all while following a robust science-based approach. “Green financial investments” might provide a significant contribution to the expected financial assistance for the essential energy transformation over the next 10 years. In practice, only a small percentage of the private capital Rows to emerging economies, and even that is skewed disproportionately in a few nations. According to OECD estimates, private flows accounted for only around USD 16.5 billion of the USD SO billion in climate finance mobilised in 2019. India's emissions trajectory is compatible with a 2°C future. Although India’s sectoral policies are still not in line with the Paris Agreement, the country’s ambitious renewable energy strategy is a positive indicator. India’s 500 GW renewables capacity target by 2030, as well as the overall Indian economy’s high degree of energy efficiency, are among the highlights in the National Statement by the Prime Minister at COP26 Summit in Glasgow. The orientalist concept of development and environmental effect is a spurious dichotomy. To grow, India requires its own fair amount of carbon space. Either the West can provide the necessary scale of money of clean technology to allow India to swiftly deploy renewable energy to fuel its development or the West must substantially reduce its emissions to allow for rising Indian emissions in the future years. As the Prime Minister appropriately said, India will highlight the need to comprehensively address climate change issues including equitable distribution of carbon space, support for mitigation, and adaptation. India would also highlight resilience-building measures, financial mobilisation, technology transfer, and the necessity of sustainable lifestyles for green and inclusive growth. Changing rainfall patterns combined with rising temperatures may cause soil moisture and water retention capacity to deteriorate, affecting home and industrial water supply, hydropower generation, and agricultural production. By 2050, changes in rainfall and glacial melt are expected to increase discharge in the region’s major rivers. River flows are expected to fall significantly later this century, resulting in severe water shortages We are in dire need of policy advocacy and technical guidance to address climate change and vulnerability issues in agriculture, water, and other sensitive sectors. Our water sector projects should be developed and planned to help communities and economies cope with the effects of climate change by minimising water losses and implementing integrated water resource management to promote community and economic resilience. Our focus should significantly be on managing land use and forests for carbon sequestration. Approximately, one-third of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the conversion of forests to agricultural land, which has a significant impact on the region’s biodiversity. Increased salinity of low-lying lands, changes in sediment balance, and further degradation of arid and semiarid areas would limit agricultural production and, eventually, land availability for agriculture. Natural disasters and extreme events will also have an impact on agriculture. Monsoon rains will continue to have a substantial impact on agricultural production. Crop yields will decline dramatically as a result of climate change- induced water stress, raising prices for vital agricultural crops like rice, maize, wheat, and soybeans, and contributing to increased malnutrition in the region by 2050 if current trends continue.10 One of the most cost-effective strategies to minimise greenhouse gas emissions is to improve forest and agricultural land management and integrate water development along with storage creation. We must pave the road for the creation of competitive and livable cities with lower carbon footprints. Greenspace, energy-efficient buildings, and water supplies, as well as reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from waste and urban transportation, are all top priorities. The Sustainable Transport Initiative encourages governments to invest in low-carbon, safe, and economical public transportation networks, as well as in assisting countries in developing inclusive, clean, and energy efficient transportation projects and developing sustainable transportation regulations. In paving the way towards promoting Climate-Resilient Development, we have seen that climate change has a significant impact on the region’s water resources.
Fintechs are the digital financial technology catalysing decarbonisation throughout the world, which provides their consumers with innovative ideas, green financial solutions, and services to help them minimise their carbon footprints. The merging of three areas— climate, finance, and technology, is known as sustainable Fintech. Climate Fintech solutions are digital innovations, applications, and platforms that assist organisations and individuals in saving, spending, and investing in environmental-friendly ways Climate Fintech is an important intermediary in the financial services industry, mobilising resources, and influencing behaviour. Customers may now make more mindful shopping decisions, investors can develop more climate-focused portfolios for their clients, and insurance companies can understand weather dangers better, thanks to Climate Fintechs. They provide firms with greater tools for monitoring, measuring, and mitigating their environmental impact. New entrants’ are increasingly focusing on financial products that provide value to all stakeholders while also being carbon-neutral. It also assists businesses in tracking and offsetting their environmental impacts by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Today s startups have a unique chance to capitalize on the growing need for long term financial solutions from both businesses and people. They’re more adaptable, and they are better at reimagining customer experiences and overcoming data issues. Regulators and governments, in addition to startups and companies, play an essential role in the development of a robust global Climate Fintech Ecosystem. To promote both sustainable finance and Green Fintech, a rising number of initiatives and concrete action plans are being established. The ultimate purpose of Climate Fintech is to redirect financial flows toward decarbonization. We’ll need the combined power of startup innovation, business commitment, and government policy to accomplish this. Startup accelerators are well positioned to assist in the development and connection of potential tech startups with the larger ecosystem The action plan of India should involve more investments, to raise the share of renewable energy in power generation, electrification of fossil-fuel-dependent businesses, commercial production of green hydrogen, and promotion of electric vehicles in order to fulfill its objectives. Additionally, the country has to use biofuels and carbon sequestration, deploy lower carbon energy, and make itself more sustainable in its energy production process. This strategy would not only open up enormous employment opportunities but also make the country leap forward on a sustainable development path. As per the Global Climate Risk Index12, published by a global environmental think-tank, India is amongst the top 10 most vulnerable countries. To enhance our accountability, we need to re-orient our short, medium, and long-term environmental targets. The need of the hour is to ensure our renewable energy goals. Secondly, emissions-intensive industries must be decarbonised. Although India has made significant progress in reducing emission intensity, more effort is needed to reduce emissions in heavy industries such as iron and steel, chemicals, and cement, as these are among the highest emitters, and demand for their products is growing due to rapid urbanisation and economic growth. Thirdly, we require more ‘carbon sinks,’ or carbon-storing ecosystems such as forests, oceans, and wetlands. More carbon sinks must be created to complement our efforts to cut emissions. Local communities, many of which live in harmony with the environment and rely on natural resources for livelihood, play a critical part in this. Despite the fact, there is no single ministry accountable for moving India towards net-zero, the Ministries of New and Renewable energy (MNRE), Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), and Ministry of Heavy Industries (which runs the scheme to promote electric vehicles), will be India’s driving engine, to ensure an uninterrupted growth trajectory.
Agriculture is the mainstay of Indian economy accounting for primary livelihood of approximately 52 per cent population and a chief source of raw materials for m any major industries. The share of agriculture and allied sectors in total GVA (Gross Value Added) of the economy has a long term trend of 18 per cent which improved to 20.2 percent (2020-21) and 18.8 per cent recently. Millions of farmers, including fishermen and cattle keepers, diligently contribute to growth story of agriculture which has gained global recognition and accolades in the recent times. Small farmers are generally economically impoverished, earning only 39 per cent of what medium holders earn, and only 13 per cent of what large holders earn. Hence, it was befitting to formulate and implement social security schemes for farming community by and large, and specifically for small and marginal farmers. Farming in India is dominated by marginal and small farmers (below 1.00 hectare and 1.00- 2.00 hectare land holdings respectively) who account for nearly 86 per cent of all the farmers in the country, but own just 47.3 per cent of the crop area (10,h Agriculture Census, 2015- 16). In comparison, semi-medium and medium land-holding farmers owning between 2-10 hectares of land account for 13.2 per cent of all farmers, but own 43.6 per cent of crop area. Smallholder farmers are unable to capture commensurate value for their farm produce mainly due to low visibility of demand; limited access to efficient and low-cost logistics; and low power of bargaining. A study indicates that small farms are more efficient, especially in cultivating labour-intensive crops or keeping livestock, but land holdings are too small to generate sufficient household income. Hence, small farmers are generally economically impoverished, earning only 39 per cent of what medium holders earn, and only 13 per cent of what large holders earn. Additionally, according to the National Sample Survey (77th Round, 2019), 50.2 per cent of agri-households in India are in debt and an average household has debt equivalent to 60 per cent of its annual income. The annual income of a farm household was Rs 1.23 lakh, and the average debt was Rs 71,100 from July 2018 - June 2019. The survey also showed increasing fragmentation of holdings vis-a-vis increasing number of small farmers. The average size of household ownership holding has declined from 0.725 hectare in 2003 to 0.592 hectare in 2013, and further to 0.512 hectare in 2019. This trend is an issue of concern for policy planners with special reference to the target of doubling the income of farmers in near future Hence, it was befitting to formulate and implement social security schemes for the farming community by and large, and specifically for small and marginal farmers. At the time of independence, Indian policymakers envisioned welfare and social security for labourers and workers engaged in all sectors. The vision included farmers, farm labourers, and agricultural workers across the agriculture and allied sectors. International Labour Organization (ILO) defines social security as the protection that a society (Government) provides to under-privileged/disadvanlaged groups to ensure access to healthcare and to guarantee income security. One o f the earliest enactments of independent India concerning social security was the Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Act in 1948. But, the ESI Act required an employer employee relationship which the farming sector does no have due to obvious reasons. Soon, the Government of India initiated some welfare and social security schemes for economically weaker sections o f the society, but an ambitious and exclusive scheme for livelihood/income guarantee o f rural people was launched only in 2005. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (later renamed as Mahatma Gandhi NREGA) was passed by the Parliament as a legal social security measure that guaranteed the ‘right to work’. Accordingly, a scheme (Mahatma Gandhi NREGS) was launched in a dem and-driven model to provide livelihood security to rural households. Basically, it is an employment program m e that guarantees at least 100 days of wage employment in every financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. In case of non-offering of work, the beneficiary is eligible for unemployment allowances to be paid by the State as per the provision of MGNREGA. In addition to this, there is a provision for an additional 50 days of unskilled wage employment in a financial year in drought/ natural calamity-notified rural areas. Over the years, MGNREGA has emerged as a flagship programme which addresses poverty in a holistic manner by overcoming social inequalities and creating a base for sustainable development through asset creation in rural areas. Various categories of work undertaken in MGNREGA have assured better lives for the poor through w ages, income, and durable assets. A major chunk of resources are spent on works related to natural resource management (check dams, ponds, renovation of traditional water bodies, field bunds, water conservation, irrigation works, etc.) which ensure higher income to farmers by enhancing both the area under cultivation and yield of crops. The creation of durable community and individual beneficiary assets (goat sheds, dairy sheds, vermi-compost pits, water soak pits, etc.) have helped the underprivileged to have access to an alternative sustainable livelihood. Solid waste management works have led to cleaner villages, higher incomes, and more diversified livelihoods for the poor. During 2021-22, MGNREGA recorded 15.54 crore active workers; 352.91 crore person-days generated; 51.85 crore DBT transactions; 7.18 crore households benefited; and 2.27 crore individual category works.
DAY-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAYNRLM) is a unique social security scheme that aims to reduce poverty by enabling poor households to access gainful self-employment and skilled wage employment opportunities. The Mission seeks to alleviate rural poverty by mobilising rural poor women into Self Help Groups (SHGs). The Mission aim s to mobilise 8-10 crore rural poor households into SH G s in a phased manner and provide them long-term support such that they diversify their livelihoods, and improve their incomes and quality of life. As on February 2022, the Mission is being implemented in 6,789 blocks in 707 districts across all 28 States and 6 Union Territories. Cumulatively, 8.16 crore women have been mobilised into more than 74.98 lakh SHGs. Financial support is provided to budding SHGs by providing Revolving Fund (at Rs. 10,000 - 15,000 per SHG) and Com m unity Investment Support Fund (upto Rs. 2.50 lakh per SHG). SHGs use these funds to provide loans to their members to undertake income generating socio-economic activities as per their micro-credit or investment plans, As on 28 February 2022, a total of Rs 17,342 crore of capitalisation support has been provided to SHGs and their federations. Nationalised Banks provide loans to women SHGs under the uniform interest subvention scheme of the Government of India. Under a sub-component of DAY-NRLM (Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana or MKSP), women farmers are being empowered by making systematic investments to create sustainable and diversified livelihood opportunities for them. Women farmers are trained in several areas of livelihood importance (kitchen gardening and nutrition gardening, development of low/minimum cost diet with high nutrient efficiency, latest agricultural and allied technologies, processing and value addition, rural crafts, etc.) through community resource persons and extension agencies. More than 58,000 Krishi Sakhis were trained by over 730 Stale Level Resource Persons and 1.23 lakh women farmers participated in special women farmer training conducted by KVK (Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, 2021). About 38 lakh women farmers have been trained under MKSP and a total of around 1.44 crore have been covered under DAY-NRLM (December, 2021). The Ministry of Rural Development operates a wide-angle social security scheme- National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)— to provide financial assistance to the elderly, widows, and persons with disabilities in the form of social pensions. It covers urban as well as rural citizens that include a large number of farmers, rural artisans, landless labourers, and their families. The programme is being implemented through defined and structured pension and welfare schemes for target groups. Funded by Central and State Governments, the programme has so far provided financial relief to over 42,51,7900 beneficiaries in different categories. Various other Government – sponsored programmes are contributing towards social security of farmers through income generation, skill development and financial inclusion activities.
The majority of Indian farmers, especially small and marginal ones, face financial crisis during sowing season which quite often leads them into the trap of indebtedness. To address the issue, the Government of India launched a path-breaking income support scheme for farmers in 2019. Named as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), the scheme aims to supplement the financial needs of farmers in procuring various inputs to ensure proper crop health and appropriate yields, commensurate with the anticipated farm income at the end of each crop cycle. This would also protect them from undue reliance on moneylenders for meeting such expenses and ensure their continuance in the farming activities. Under the Scheme, financial assistance of Rs 6,000 per annum is provided to all landholding farmer families across the country, subject to certain exclusion criteria related to higher-income strata. The amount is transferred in three monthly installments of Rs 2,000 each, directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiary farmers identified by the State/Union Territory Governments. As on 22 February 2022, funds amounting to Rs 1.82 lakh crore in various installments have been released to the beneficiaries across India out of which Rs 1.29 lakh crore has been released during the Covid-19 pandemic period. It has benefitted about 11.78 crore farmers belonging to different categories. Small and marginal farmers have minimal or no savings to sustain their livelihood during their old ages. Acting proactively on the sensitive issue, the Government of India launched a customised pension scheme for farmers in 2019. Named as Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maandhan Yojana (PMKMY), the Scheme aims to provide a social security net for the small and marginal farmers by way of pension. A minimum fixed pension of Rs 3,000 per month is provided to the eligible small and marginal farmers on attaining the age of 60 years. The Scheme is voluntary and contributory in nature with an entry age of 18 to 40 years. The beneficiary is required to contribute Rs 100 per month at median entry age of 29 years, whereas the Central Government also contributes equal amount to Pension Fund. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) is a uniquely designed social security scheme under which financial assistance is provided to farmers in distress due to loss/damage to crops arising out of natural calamities. Over 36 crore farmers have been insured under the scheme with over Rs 1,07,059 crore of claims which have already been paid as on 4 February 2022. The Scheme has been able to provide financial assistance to the most vulnerable farmers, as around 85 per cent of the farmers enrolled under it are small and marginal farmers. In addition to centrally sponsored schemes, various State Governments are also operating social security schemes for farmers to address their specific needs. The Government of Maharashtra has been running the ‘Gopinath Munde Farmers Accident Insurance Scheme’ since 2015. The Scheme covers victims (farmers) of accidental death and those who have been left handicapped by an accident. Under the Scheme, animal attacks, Naxal attacks, murder, electric shocks, etc., are also treated as accidents, and victims are compensated accordingly. The Government of Gujarat is implementing ‘Fanner’s Accidental Insurance Scheme’ since 1996. The Scheme provides insurance coverage to the registered farmers in case of accidental death or permanent disability. The insurance premium (100%) is paid by the Stale Government; fanners only need to get themselves registered under the unique social security scheme for the agricultural workers. It’s a dual purpose scheme that on one side provides pension and on other side also ensures insurance benefits in case of accidental death or disability. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh and other States are also running such accident insurance schemes for farmers. Besides specific schemes, farmers and agricultural workers need a comprehensive social security programme that must cover all the exigencies as enumerated by ILO. These include death, disability, sickness, health, injury, unemployment and various types of accidents. Such programmes need to be implemented with an effective and widespread infrastructure at the grassroots level so that last mile connectivity is ensured. Details and benefits of such schemes must be disseminated through various media to maximise their impact on the social well-being of farmers.
Fishery is an important source of food, nutrition, employment, and income in India. The sector provides livelihoods to about 16 million fishers and fish farmers at the primary level and almost twice the number along the value chain. The marine fisheries sector is dominated by the socio-economically backward artisans and small-scale fishers whose lives and livelihoods depend on oceans and seas. Aiming for social security and welfare of fishers, Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying implemented a ‘National Scheme of Welfare of Fisherman’ for a period of five years. It was one of the components of the comprehensive centrally sponsored scheme, ‘Blue Revolution: Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries’, which has ended on 31 March 2020. Currently, the Department of Fisheries is implementing a flagship programme called ‘Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) with a highest ever investment of Rs 20,050 crore for a period of five years (2020-21 to 2024-25). The ambitious scheme aims sustainable and responsible development of fisheries sector, but inter-alia includes some key provisions for social security and welfare of fishers and fish farmers. Livelihood and nutritional support are provided to socio-economically backward active traditional fishers families during the fishing ban/lean period. Under this component, financial assistance is provided at Rs 4,500 per fisher which includes Rs 3,000 per fisher to be provided by the Government and Rs 1,500 to be contributed by the beneficiary for three months consisting of fishing ban/lean periods. Under the component of insurance to fishers, the following compensations are provided – 1. Rs 5,00,000 against accidental death or permanent total disability; 2. Rs 2,50,000 for permanent partial disability; and 3. Insurance coverage for hospitalisation expenses in the event of an accident for a sum of Rs 25,000. A sum of Rs 369.55 crore of central share has been spent for implementation of this Scheme from 2017-18 to 2021-22 (February, 2022).
Technology is increasingly demonstrating its ability to solve problems in critical socio-
economic areas such as financial inclusion and healthcare. Data analytics, artificial
intelligence, machine learning, and India's growing digital footprint have resulted in a
plethora of products and services for ordinary citizens. It is critical for policymakers to
facilitate and accelerate this technology adoption to the grassroots.
The Indian digital story has evolved based on a stronghold of Information and
Communications Technology (ICT), with the foremost aim of making technology “inclusive”,
“affordable”, “transformative”, and “accessible” for all. The Government’s initiatives such as
Digital India, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), and Government e-MarketpIace (GeM) aim to
actively transform India into both a knowledge-based economy and a digitally-empowered
society. As less-affluent States leapfrog to catch up with more-affluent States, India’s digital
divide has been decreasing rapidly. Seven of the ten States with the fastest growth in
internet subscribers have per capita GDP lower than India’s average between 2014 and
2018. Uttar Pradesh alone added 36 million internet subscriptions over this time span,
accounting for 12 per cent of India’s total incremental internet subscriptions. Similarly, eight
of the top ten States with the most gram panchayats covered by Common Service Centres
(CSCs) had a lower GDP per capita than India as a whole.
In today’s India, financial inclusion is at the heart of its social-security system. The Pradhan
Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) resulted in a massive increase in financial inclusion.
Further, fintech is expanding on the achievement of financial inclusion by providing a variety
of payment and transaction possibilities. For example, BHIM and UPI have clearly improved
people’s quality of life. According to the National Payments Corporation of India, till March
2022, UPI had processed 5.04 billion transactions, amounting to Rs 8.88 trillion. This is
incredible in terms of both volume and value. The next ‘fix’ being used is to deploy these
channels to increase formal credit access to make credit more accessible and affordable. If
we look at the financial inclusion ecosystem in India, an array of changes made over the
past decade or so has gone a long way in ensuring increased levels of financial inclusivity in
our villages. Looking back, one of the biggest challenges that we faced in this area was to
boost the supply of financial services to meet increasing levels of demand. The lack of
proper infrastructure and high operational costs constrained the government’s efforts to
reach the last mile, leaving a considerable number of rural families behind. In the last
decade, however, advances in technology, goods and channels, and regulatory frameworks
have finally brought financial services to the fingertips of millions of individuals, especially
the rural population.
In India, several advancements have been made in the delivery of financial services. The
Union Cabinet approved a scheme called “Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta
Abhiyan (PMGDISHA)” in 2017 to promote digital literacy in rural India by covering 6 crore
rural households. This is the world’s largest digital literacy programme, under which so far,
around 5.78 crore individuals have been enrolled, and 4.90 crore have been trained, with
approximately 3.62 crore candidates receiving certification under this system.2 Frameworks
such as fintech unicorns, Optical Fibre Connectivity (BharatNet), Smart Villages, and CSCs
have been significant in minimising the cost of client acquisition for a market of over a billion
people. These projects have provided remote communities with an unprecedented
opportunity. Mobile network providers have been able to bring superior data connectivity and
mobile networks to rural areas owing to rapidly decreasing smartphone prices, providing
individuals real-time connectivity, and access.
Through the combination of Jan Dhan bank accounts and mobile phones and the
establishment of digital Financial inclusion is at the heart of its social-security system. If we
look at the identity through Aadhaar, the poor can now receive benefits directly into their
bank accounts. More than Rs 36,659 crore has been transferred using DBTs through Public
Financial Management System (PFMS) in the bank accounts of millions of beneficiaries.
During the pandemic, cash benefits announced under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan
Package (PMGKP) have also been transferred using DBT, mostly to the poorest
The JAM trinity (Jan Dhan accounts, the Aadhaar ID system, and mobile technology) when
combined with abundant data on customer behaviours and preferences can enable the
creation of entirely new business models that offer highly efficient, scalable and intelligent
processes for customer acquisition, servicing, cross selling, and up-selling.
In recent years— digital banking, digital payments, and fintech innovations have exploded in
popularity in the country. The Government continues to support these industries in order to
ensure that the benefits of digital banking reach every comer of the country in a consumer-
friendly manner. To forward this objective and mark the country’s 75th anniversary of
independence, Scheduled Commercial Banks are proposing the establishment of 75 Digital
Banking Units (DBUs) in 75 districts across the country.
India has been witnessing a spurt of digital payments owing to increased transparency and
accountability in the past few years. As of 29 March 2022, UPI had processed 5.04 billion
transactions, which was 11.5 per cent higher in volume than February and around 7.5 per
cent higher in terms of the value of transactions processed. Over 2 trillion transactions were
processed using the AePS (Aadhaar Enabled Payment System) last year.
Besides ensuring ease of living, technology has several other critical applications in domains
such as healthcare. The shortage of doctors, the availability and affordability of
pharmaceuticals, and the absence of universally available healthcare are all challenges in
Indian healthcare. Continuing with the government’s Digital India initiative, the Prime
Minister launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission in September 2021 to create a
digital health repository for all Indians. To further the use of technology in medicine, there
has been an unprecedented expansion of telemedicine during the pandemic. Till the end of
September 2021, around 125 crore remote consultations have been completed under the
eSanjeevani portal. Everyday, this facility connects thousands of citizens living in remote
areas of the country with doctors from large city hospitals from the comforts of their homes.
Further, people of all ages have been affected by the pandemic, which has exacerbated
mental health issues. A ‘National Tele Mental Health Programme’ has been developed to
improve access to high-quality mental health counseling and treatment services. This would
feature a network of 23 world-class tele-mental health centres, with NIMMANS serving as
the nodal centre and the International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore (IIITB)
providing technical support.
In times of rapid change in the post-Covid world, technology should be at the forefront of
healthcare as it has the potential to revolutionise the Indian healthcare ecosystem. E-health
can ensure efficiency in healthcare, thereby lowering costs, and it can also enhance the
quality of healthcare by allowing comparisons between different service providers, it can
promote evidence-based treatment, and can empower patients by making medicine’s
knowledge base and personal electronic records accessible. Doing so would also be crucial
in increasing the scope of healthcare beyond its traditional boundaries
“Digital delivery of services” has simplified the manner in which citizens interact with the
government, helping them to effectively avail various services and enhance their overall
standard of living. CSCs are the world’s largest digital service delivery network, with a broad
reach in rural areas up to Gram Panchayat and Block level. These broadband-connected
kiosks with information and communication technologies have been offering citizens a
variety of government, private, and social services. Between 1 January and 31 October
2020, 6,467 additional functional CSCs (both urban and rural) were added, with 10,339
functional CSCs added at the Gram Panchayat level.4 Recently, CSCs have become
centres for digital empowerment in rural areas and are actively playing the role of
disseminating digital literacy at the grassroot levels.
Further, through Jeevan Pramaan or Digital Life Certificate, biometric enabled digital service,
pensioners of Central Government, State Government, EPFO, or any other government
organisations can take benefit at their doorstep or at any post offices. Since 2014, over 2.48
crore digital life certificates have been submitted.
The UMANG mobile app (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) is an all-in-
one single, unified, secure, multi-channel, multi-lingual, and multi-service mobile app that
provides access to high-impact services of various Gol Departments and State
governments. The app has now grown to provide 2039 services and the count is galloping
ahead on a real-time basis. Over 3 years, UMANG has reached a level of more than 3.75
crore downloads and 2.5 crore registered users.6-4 Citizens can find government institutions
near them, such as mandis, blood banks, and more, at the touch of a button, thanks to the
integration of UMANG with Mapmylndia Maps. Through such efforts, the government has
been expanding the basket of services for citizens through deeper technology access.
The UMANG application has already started providing the following functionalities:
• Mera Ration: helps users identify and navigate to the nearest Fair Price Shops.
• eNam: Through the ‘Mandi Near Me’ service on UMANG, users can identify and navigate to the nearby mandis pointed on the map.
• ‘Damini Lightning Alerts’ service gives users a visual of nearby places where lightning has struck in the recent few minutes to offer lightning alerts. On the map display, this alert mechanism shows the potential of lightning strikes. Further, services like DigiLocker aim to give citizens access to all their lifelong documents in a single digital wallet and all such government-issued citizen-centric proof documents are equally valid under Indian laws DigiLocker already issues digital copies of Ration Cards and Marriage Certificates for a majority of Indian States. Additionally, DigiLocker is in discussion with Passport Seva for the issuance of Passport to further enhance coverage of citizen services digitally. Agriculture is another domain where technology finds much relevance, particularly in the Indian context. For Indian farmers, the deployment of ‘Kisan drones’ and the push for technologydriven agriculture would be beneficial in ensuring quality produce with procedures in place for regular checks. Agriculture is a key source of income for around 58 percent of India’s population, making agricultural reforms critical to the country’s development. The government has identified the value chain for farm produce as a critical area for capital infusion. This would be accomplished by a blended capital fund raised under the co- investment approach, which would be handled by NABARD. This fund would give the required financial capital to agricultural and rural businesses that are just getting started. The use of the state-of-the-art drones for the purpose of spraying fertilisers, and monitoring yield and produce would aid the fanners in producing high-quality yield with reduced levels of labour. The Union Budget 2022 added much emphasis on greater technological adoption across different segments of the economy such as skill development. An e-portal for a digital ecosystem for skilling and livelihood known as DESH STACK will aid in skilling, up-skilling, and reskilling, thus, playing a huge role in digitally empowering citizens. Besides this, the portal will also provide an API-based trusted skill credential, payment, and discovery layers which will be crucial in aiding potential job seekers to find relevant jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. As we have entered the Amrit Kaal, the 25 years leading up to the 100 years of independence, it is clear that technology is and will be a catalyst in driving socio-economic progress. Technology is the way forward to address the aspiration and potential of 13 billion Indians. By 2025, India’s digital transformation could provide a fivefold increase in economic value, resulting in a rapidly rising market for a variety of digital services, platforms, apps, content and solutions. Global and local firms, startups, and platform-based innovators who will be investing in emerging technologies intelligence, blockchain, drones, and robotics will find this to be an appealing prospect in the growth journey of India.