Digital India Initiatives

Data diplomacy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Data localisation

Mains level : Data diplomacy, Data sovereignty


  • The government has withdrawn the Personal Data Protection Bill from Parliament after several amendments were proposed by the Joint-Parliamentary Committee.

Definition of data

  • Data is a collection of discrete values that convey information, describing quantity, quality, fact, statistics, other basic units of meaning, or simply sequences of symbols that may be further interpreted.

What is Data Protection?

  • Data protection refers to policies and procedures seeking to minimise intrusion into the privacy of an individual caused by collection and usage of their personal data.

What is data localisation?

  • Data localization or data residency law requires data about a nation’s citizens or residents to be collected, processed, and/or stored inside the country, often before being transferred internationally.

What is Data Governance?

  • Data governance is a collection of processes, roles, policies, standards, and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals. Data governance defines who can take what action, upon what data, in what situations, using what methods.

Interesting facts

  • Over 90% of all the data in the world was created in the past 2 years;
  • The total amount of data being captured and stored by industry doubles every 1.2 years;
  • If you burned all of the data created in just one day onto DVDs, you could stack them on top of each other and reach the moon – twice.

Data sovereignty of India

  • Definition: India has placed itself at the heart of the battle, its foreign policy vision fuelled by the principle of ‘data sovereignty’—a broad notion that supports the assertion of sovereign writ over data generated by citizens within a country’s physical boundaries.
  • Issues: The ideal of “data sovereignty”, and global attempts to leverage it, has come under heavy criticism from various stakeholders who are of the view that the concept violates the principle of “free and open internet”. They also argue that “data sovereignty” hampers innovation and economic growth, and is a ruse for authoritarian digital governance.

India’s Data Diplomacy: Three Pillars

  • Pillar 1: India’s data for India’s development

The flagship ‘Digital India’ programme clearly views data as the cornerstone of India’s socioeconomic future—one where the government leverages the Indian citizen’s data for the benefit of the people themselves, and not solely for profit-making.

  • Pillar 2: Cross-border data flows and digital trade

In keeping with its foreign policy tradition of actively shaping debates on global trade rules, India has been an active participant in the ongoing contestation on regulating cross-border data flows.

  • Pillar 3: Securitising the economic

The final pillar of India’s data diplomacy has been predicated ostensibly on safeguarding its citizens’ data from external threats.

Why data is important?

  • Improve People’s Lives: Data will help you to improve quality of life for people you support: Improving quality is first and foremost among the reasons why organizations should be using data.
  • Make Informed Decisions: Data = Knowledge. Good data provides indisputable evidence, while anecdotal evidence, assumptions, or abstract observation might lead to wasted resources due to taking action based on an incorrect conclusion.
  • Stop Molehills from Turning into Mountains: Data allows you to monitor the health of important systems in your organization: By utilizing data for quality monitoring, organizations are able to respond to challenges before they become full-blown crisis.
  • Get The Results You Want: Data allows organizations to measure the effectiveness of a given strategy: When strategies are put into place to overcome a challenge, collecting data will allow you to determine how well your solution is performing, and whether or not your approach needs to be tweaked or changed over the long-term.


  • The fulcrum of India’s data diplomacy should be predicated on the rule of law and the genuine protection of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. A commitment to the rule of law and accountability for all actors sets India apart from present adversaries like China and offers an opportunity to burnish its reputation globally.

Mains question

Q.Data is considered as new gold across the globe in this context analyse data sovereignty along with status of data diplomacy of India.

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