January of every year marks the rise of the sun in the Uttarayan space. Maa Bharati witnesses Uttarayan through the birth anniversaries of her two illustrious sons—Swami Vivekananda and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, who are the youth icons of ‘New India.’ They both envisioned and crafted the blueprints of inclusivity and sustainable development. While we rejuvenate our past, our present and future are closely shaping up to the visions of our freedom fighters and ancestors. This is the onset of the Amrit Kaal which aims to enhance the lives of our citizens, bridge the gap of development between our villages and cities and implement the meaning of the term Antyodaya as envisaged by Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
In my book Data Sovereignty the Pursuit of Supremacy, I have mentioned that data is the new oil and whoever controls it, will rule the world. If India wants to avoid data colonisation, then ‘data sovereignty’ is the only solution. Sovereignty implies that India is a nation having rights on our data, building infrastructure for capture and storage of data within the territories of India, accountability for usage of data, creating adequate legal framework, empowering law enforcement agencies, ensuring data security along with privacy and empowering every citizen to have rights on their data.
It is public knowledge that the market capitalisation of the Tech and Data Companies is highest in the world that proves the importance of owning data in this century. India is one of the countries with highest population in the world and generates diverse set of data be it geological, topographical, health, demographical, cultural, linguistic, scientific, genetic, agricultural, financial, social, political etc and this data is unique, extensive and relevant. Such data contributes as one of the most important raw materials for the global tech companies working on AI, IoT, Data Analytics and building products from it. Digital transactions in India for the calendar year 2022, stood at Rs 125.95 lakh crore (UPI’s total transaction value), up 1.75X year-on-year (YoY), as per the NCPI. Globally, we provide the cheapest data to our citizens at $0.08 which is a 65 per cent imporvement as compared to what we paid way back in 2014.
Cyber Secure Environment
In the post Covid-19 world, there has been a sudden shift to online mode of working instead of traditional way of operations be it in workplaces, marketplaces, healthcare, judiciary, government, research, agriculture, educational or any other areas. India is also gearing up rapidly to adopt digitisation in every sector. Similarly, the penetration of Mobile phones has increased multi-fold leading to larger access of mobile apps, payment gateway apps, gaming apps, social media apps, Networking apps, EdTech, e-healthcare services, Internet Banking in urban and rural India across all age groups and genders. Emergence of cybercrimes has a direct co-relation to this. Hence it puts people in developing and underdeveloped countries at serious risk of exploitation. Since there are many new users, their knowledge of cyber hygiene is minimal, and level of cyber etiquette is extremely low. There has been 300 per cent rise in case of cyber breach, frauds, harassment against women in cyberspace, attacks, hacking, morphing and cloning records since onset of Covid–19. Hence there is a need to build a cyber secure environment for India. To achieve that, it is extremely important to emphasise on “Capacity building” in Data and Cyber security specifically at the intersection of Data Privacy and Protection, Cyberlaw, Cybercrime and Cybersecurity.
India is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and as per 2022 reports, India has more than 50 per cent of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65 per cent below the age of 35. Most of this population is basic tech ready and educated in English and/or vernacular languages. In 2020, the average age of an Indian was 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan, which along with advantages presents challenges of employment generation to engage this youth force. With India being among the top 10 countries facing cyberattacks, the need for cybersecurity awareness and prevention has become even more critical. But we are short of cybersecurity professionals in India and the role of youth is very significant to make India a cyber resilient country to strengthen our economy. The global cybersecurity skills’ gap and the lack of diversity in the workforce are among the urgent issues faced in today’s digital economy. There is a shortage of nearly 30 lakh people to fill the global cybersecurity workforce gap out of which around 9-10 lakh jobs gap is expected to be in India by 2025. The All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and the Ministry of Education have launched a project to train students and educators in cybersecurity in its affiliated colleges, who will eventually train the society on cyber safety, cyber hygiene, and cyberspace caution.
“It is our duty to pay for our liberty with our own blood”
— Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose
The world is witnessing the emergence of a non-kinetic warfare as seen in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict. Cyber warfare is becoming an important tool to influence democracy and election processes. There are examples where social media giants have been manipulated to drive narratives and propaganda. It is very important to create a “Cyber Security Army”to protect critical infrastructure, installations, institutes of research of India from external as well as from internal Cyber threats, which may hamper the growth and development of the country. Identifying and nurturing talent from Senior Secondary School level and building up a National Cyber Cadet Corps alike, National Cadet Corps can go a long way to strengthen the cyberspace for India in the long run.
Prime Minister Modi’s exemplary vision pulled us out of the worst pandemic and thanks to his initiative of AatmaNirbhar Bharat, today’s youth in India is empowered and enabled to be on the growth trajectory. India is on a path of reclaiming the status of “Vishwa Guru” by accomplishing specific goals of self-sustenance, transparency, inclusive and sustainable growth for not just us but the entire humanity working in the most transparent and efficient manner using Technology. Data sovereign and a cyber secure India will be instrumental to fuel such growth as will ensure a safe future for our generations to come.