Some Done, much more needs to be accomplished

The world’s richest democracy gets into election mode, the elephant’s neighbor the dragon fumes more fire in the run up to supremacy and rapid technology advancements leave a frustrated bunch of lawmakers/regulators around the globe. Welcome 2020 a year to mark a new decade of exponential human growth and innovation laced, with its share of political and economic issues .Nowhere else, but today, as we stand to embrace  a brand new decade built on promise for creating healthy smart neighborhoods, safer borders and prosperous citizens, has there been a need to keep up with technology advancements. Technology, which is feared and yet an inevitable choice of access by almost everyone wanting to be part of civil society.  

Let’s look at some of the broad stroke policy frameworks/principals which will continue to guide law making in India  

Big Brother will be connected 

Government has recently introduced the Personal Data Protection Bill to protect citizens rights and privacy with regards data usage and being data principals. On the face of it, the bill, styled and heavily borrowed from European General Data Protection Regulations, begins on a noble note of protecting citizen rights over data, ends up gifting it to government without any questions asked. The alleged culprit here, being technology providers, access to whose bit by bit collected and mostly voluntarily gifted data bases, are the most prized possessions of this century. Government will continue to be wary of the vested motives of these mostly foreign owned technology platforms while they continue to be active users for reaching out to citizens and next generation voters. This is likely to lead to a mangrove swamp of regulatory guidelines and compliance dos, which, without being overtly clear on definitions of data, privacy and other such emerging regulatory issues to be dealt with, will try to keep a tight leash.   

Transparency and Trust 

Leading on from here, the basic challenge would be focused on key issues of transparency and trust, both for governments and technology providers, as users are increasingly getting aware of their rights. There is likely to be further pilot push for ‘Made for India’ policies. Most companies are more likely to come up with elaborate transparency Disclaimers regarding usage/collection and in some cases resale of data to win back trust. Government is also likely to push for more digital transparency-oriented policies as they are aware of the legal challenge and global best practices.   

AI/machine led reskilling push 

It will be a challenge to get across to a human in most companies for grievance redressal. As more sophisticated artificial intelligence led, low cost automation processes take charge humans or talent force will increasingly have to reskill to stay in business. Government will be increasingly, defining policy framework to curtail loss of jobs due to inevitable onslaught of AI, while trying to upgrade existing workforce for future. Jobs will continue to be focus for government wanting to keep its citizens employed and in wake of new technology, creative regulatory practices on the borderline, of being protectionist may be tried out. 

Protectionist policies 

While getting world class services will continue to grab attention of policy makers and citizens, a protectionist policy regime specially in agriculture, manufactured electronic goods, Information communication technology products, at regional trade forums would get hardened. India may try to find sweet spots of comfort through bilateral or multilateral trade deals specially in South East Asia however, the rhetoric against foreign manufactured and imported goods and against large technology driven foreign firms will continue to make headlines.  

At this juncture it is important to tabulate a wish list of key policy changes which, even if nudged in 2020 can make huge jump towards $5trillion economy by 2024.  

Clear the labyrinth regulatory maze for critical sectors like energy, telecom & technology, civil aviation 

Government has to trust intent of companies operating in respective sectors, while keeping a hawk eye on possible transgressions. Adding multiple and ministerial layers, to regulation adds roadblocks to Ease of Doing business and increases compliance costs. Government must realize that all these sectors    are mines of long term suitably compensated skilled jobs and serve as shining mascots of a vibrant economy. These sectors if dealt with light touch regulation allow ample scope for career growth and add dollar rich   dividends to the economy even in face of adverse headwinds.  A good idea would be to have a spoc ministry or better a joint secretary level official take charge of a clutch of these sectoral companies. They could serve as regulatory guides and help these companies turn tables in real quick time. 

Marrying new with old 

The current government is exceptional in organizing grand scale events to attract new investments in the country. While continuing at this feverish pitch, it is essential to look at the companies which have brought in multi billion dollars in the last decade and created millions of new jobs In India. If government manages to turn some of these MNCs into their case studies of success in international markets, they will save few billion in road shows. 

Clearly for India to keep shining and rising in the next decade a middle path of industry, consumer and citizen friendly policy regime will be of a huge help.

Kumar Deep is a senior Public policy and Communications Professional with experience spanning across Media and Corporate sector. His Specialization is Public Policy, Advocacy to build Thought Leadership.

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