LIRNEasia CEO Helani speaks at IPCIDE Annual Conference on State of India’s Digital Economy

Posted on March 1, 2024  /  0 Comments

During the annual conference of the ICRIER Prosus Centre for Internet and Digital Economy (IPCIDE), which held in New Delhi on February 16, LIRNEasia CEO Helani Galpaya stressed on the need to address both demand and supply sides of internet use, advocating for education reform and digital literacy initiatives to bridge access gaps.  Helani Galpaya is a member of the Advisory Board of IPCIDE.

The focus of the event was the launch of the “State of India’s Digital Economy (SIDE) 2024” report, a comprehensive analysis of India’s digital transformation journey. Co-founded by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and Prosus, a global consumer internet group, IPCIDE aims to shape policy by providing empirical evidence to guide India’s digital evolution.  The 2024 report highlights that India’s digital economy is only second to that of the USA when viewed as a whole, but it falls behind when digital dividends are considered on a per capita basis.

Helani Galpaya participated in the first panel discussion titled “Investing in Meaningful Connectivity,” alongside co-panelists Rohit Prasad, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Management Development Institute, Gurgaon, Michael Ginguld, Chief Strategy Officer at AirJaldi, and Neeraj Mittal, Secretary of the Department of Telecommunications. The session was moderated by Aruna Sundararajan, former Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministries of Steel, IT, and Telecom.

Helani highlighted that recent spikes in connectivity were triggered by events such as COVID-19 lockdowns and policy reforms like GST introduction and demonetisation but noted that relying on these shocks to drive demand is not good policy since the most marginalised are left behind. She underscored the need for reforms in the Universal Service Fund to enable not just supply-side interventions but also to stimulate demand.

Drawing attention to India’s pioneering role in revolutionising telecommunications with the pre-paid, low-cost mobile telecom model (innovations that were driven by the private sector, later exported to the rest of Asia and countries in Africa), she also proposed exploring non-rivalrous and non-excludable models of digital public goods that India can “export” to other emerging economies.

She emphasised the importance of collaboration between India and other emerging economies to amplify their collective voice in international digital economy negotiations. She also highlighted the significance of India’s substantial market size in influencing treaty discussions concerning digital services taxes proposed by organisations like Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and United Nations (UN).

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