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India acing the game of Cyber Diplomacy

Niti Post - March 31, 2023

The emergence of cyberspace has led to various new opportunities and challenges for mankind. The world is undergoing massive changes in multiple domains as the fourth industrial revolution unfolds and sophisticated technology, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and quantum technology, among others, is put to use. Cyber Diplomacy is one such outcome of this ongoing rapid digitalization process. Countries are gradually implementing policies and taking initiatives to safeguard their interests within the cyber domain. New collaborations, partnerships, and agreements are coming up, with countries, leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to reap the benefits of cyberspace.

Cyber Diplomacy is still a new concept for countries and can be defined as the use of diplomatic tools and initiatives to achieve a state’s national interest in cyberspace. India has well established itself as a country with a solid technology base and is actively taking part in digital and cyber issues at the international level and in multilateral forums. The Cyber Diplomacy (CD) Division of the Ministry of External Affairs is a specialised division dealing with international cyber governance issues. Additionally, the division is engaged with countries in bilateral, regional, and multilateral forums, including the United Nations.

India strongly believes in a multi-stakeholder model of cyber governance and has been engaging in activities with the private sector, civil society, and academia to shape and strategize cyber policy. Last year, India held various cyber dialogues with various countries, including Japan, Germany, Australia, and the USA, among others. In addition, in the last few years, India has raised its voice in tackling threats posed by cybercrimes and cyberterrorism on various international platforms. The country has also promoted cyber security by setting up Centres of Excellence and Institutes of Technology in various countries.  

India as the Chair of Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI)

In October 2022, India assumed the Chair of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), an international initiative aimed at the responsible and human-centric development of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Emerging Technologies Division) is the nodal entity from India and participates in GPAI proceedings.

GPAI was launched in June 2020 and is a multi-stakeholder initiative bringing together leading experts from science, industry, civil society, international organisations, and government. Together, they aim to bridge the gap between theory and practice in AI. Presently, it comprises 29 international partners. India was elected for the Incoming Council Chair Seat and will serve as the Incoming Chair in 2023, and subsequently as the Lead Chair in 2024 and the Outgoing Chair in 2025 (3-year mandate).

India leveraging the power of its Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI)

The country’s Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) is one of the greatest masterpieces of ‘New India’. Innovations like UPI, DigiYatra, DigiLocker, and Aadhar, among others, are turning out to be the greatest digital public tools for citizens. Moreover, one can gauge the impact of the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) by the fact that it has crossed eight billion transactions per month.

Earlier this year, the linking of India’s UPI and Singapore’s PayNow started a new era of cooperation between the two countries. Further, various countries have already partnered with India and others have expressed their interest to accept UPI and RuPay in one form or the other. Undoubtedly, India’s digital goods (UPI, RuPay, etc.) can play an important role in enhancing its “Cyber Diplomacy,” forging new alliances, and promoting India’s global stature. Further, with its ongoing G20 Presidency, India can play a significant role in creating a rules-based order in cyberspace.



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