Vue: India needs a new service framework – an Indian Digital Service (IDS)

The 11th Report of the Second Administrative Reform Commission (ARC) of 2008 underlined the importance of e-governance and the consequent need to build capacity at all levels of government. Currently, new recruits in the public service receive training in IT and e-governance. And, as of now, India’s Telecommunications Service (ITS) is the primary framework from which officers are assigned to different aspects of technology policy and digital issues.

But it’s not enough. Digital now extends beyond telecoms. And civil service courses do not offer a better understanding of how technology works, its national and international ecosystem, and the implications of emerging technologies, all of which can enable them to identify the loopholes and risks to develop and implement. implementing better policies.

India needs an exclusive and new service framework for all of India – an Indian Digital Service (IDS) – part of the civil service and recruited mainly by the Union Civil Service Commission (UPSC ), to serve as the backbone of the multiple digital services and other emerging GoI. technological initiatives.

This service will strengthen existing institutions to deal with challenges arising from the digital world – from data protection and white labeling to cryptocurrency, use of the dark net, e-commerce abuse, etc. It will create a roadmap for e-governance, data protection, a level playing field for producers, especially MSMEs, and consumers, cryptocurrency, intellectual property protection, cybersecurity, etc. . The service could also use India’s attractive digital ecosystem to drive the global digital narrative.

The last time a new services framework was created was in 2018, when the GoI restructured some of the existing services to create the Indian Business Development Service (IEDS) for the Ministry of MSMEs. Typically, it takes years for such a framework to be put in place. With digitalization rampant, India cannot wait for a new framework to reach full maturity, or for the constitutional amendment needed to create a pan-Indian service.

Thus, the GoI can immediately begin to fill the IDS ranks through lateral hires, drawing on the expertise of the private sector domain. Several ministries are already doing this, including trade and industry, finance, health and family protection. The establishment of the IDS framework will streamline the technology policy work currently underway in ministries such as telecommunications, electronics and informatics, trade and industry, and external affairs. The placement of officers in these different ministries will provide the required knowledge and expertise.

In addition to policy making at the central level, IDS officers can play an important role at the state level in enhancing digitization and capacity building. It will provide the institutional strength and skills required for the development of digital technology policies. This has the potential to propel not only India’s digital transformation but also its digital economy through competent preparation and administration, effective dispute resolution and a futuristic outlook.

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