Q&A with DD (Mark Lyn)
1. The focus in these meetings has been on digital technologies. The trade ministers believe new technologies are an important tool for modernization and transformation of industry and will promote inclusive economic growth... Do you see digital technologies as the norm or still as a disruptive technology?
A1: Digital technologies are here to stay. Impact will depend on countries' population/ labor force trajectory. In countries with declining population & scarce human resources it will result in substitution of scarce labor by machines (robotics, ML). In India, one of our comparative advantages is the high share of global working age population. We can use digital technologies (AI, expert systems) to enhance quality of our labor force and enhance the productivity of skilled professionals.
2. They talk of assessing implications, and encourage progressive, safe, equitable, and sustainable use of disruptive technologies for advancing growth. This is the new paradigm post-covid world... meeting are also virtual. Comment. (Everything in the digital economy is relatively new and still disruptive).
A2: India was lagging in use of e-services. Covid has changed that with fast adoption of remote marketing, sales, purchase of goods & services. Post-covid we are likely to close the gap with the leaders, much faster. Caution: Safety security: Spying, hacking and information warfare. Free, open, Democracies more susceptible. IBSA vs BRICs
3. Importance of investment in human resources in line with the changing requirements caused by emerging technologies... How crucial is collaboration in this field?
A3: Different levels, different mix of cooperation & competition: Basic, moderate; Need to expand rapidly and become supplier to the World. Standardization & certification in needed to make it possible Co-operation in pedagogy very important for & unified market which Indian talent can supply! Advanced (AI, ML) Indian resources 3rd behind USA & China. Both Cooperation & competition will happen, so both aspects must be kept in mind. R&D cooperation has to be selective & bilateral.
4. Besides workshops, seminars, and exchange programs... what more can be done to create a digital business ecosystem to promote like-minded projects and investments/
A4: BRICS can set up study groups on specialized topics like Hacking and securing domestic digital systems from international threats.
5. Will new technologies on their own foster open, fair, and nondiscriminatory trade environment, and ensure greater participation in global value chains? BRICS is committed to making efforts to do create such a trade environment?
A5: Digital technologies can help introduce greater transparency in trade & supply chains and thus promote competition. However, unregulated, they can also lead to digital monopolies, which will harm user interests and stifle innovation. Social media (SM) can also be used to propagate misinformation that harms the interests of the target. Modern, professional regulation is needed to ensure competitive environment, which promotes innovation & safeguards interests if consumers/users.
6. Role of New Development Bank. India wants NDB resources be utilized for strengthening social infrastructure(education, health, community housing etc.) besides promotion of Industrial sector. Importance of increasing scope of the Bank.
A6: Big gaps in funding of Public goods infrastructures remain – original purpose of NDB (WB, ADB unable to fill). NDB should continue to focus physical infrastructure, including hard infrastructure for connectivity, broad band networks, carbon fiber, satellite receiving stations, satellites. But it could also finance the complementary soft infrastructure needed for the digital economy.
7. BRICS Industry Ministers agreed to complement each other's strengths and share best practices and learn from weaknesses... How important is kind of working relationship in achieving the SDGs together?
A7: Industrial best practices sharing will help improve the average productivity and competitiveness of the BRICs economies. It is the foundation of BRICS co-operation! The BRICS can benefit from China’s experience and must insist that China share its learning.
8. India as chair has global credible examples. World’s largest bio metric system AADHAR, Success of payment system UPI, Aarogya Setu & CoWin Apps in covid management. India's digital footprint... is important as a trend setter?
A8: India is a pioneer in developing digital public goods infrastructure/soft infra. India must use this to raise the visibility of Indian private digital companies in the BRICs and around the World. This can be done by making hem an essential partner in propagating India's digital foo print. Else we will end up getting praised for one or two times, while foreign companies run away with the sales and the profits; and use these to develop more customer friendly & business friendly applications
9. “Technical Report on Social Infrastructure: Financing and Use of Digital Technologies” endorsed by Finance Ministers. Report is a collaborative exercise on how BRICS governments have leveraged digital technologies to improve health and education sectors. This is a good way to collaborate judging from common lessons learnt from the pandemic.
A9: There has been a flowering of social entrepreneurship in India during the last five years. When Covid hit, we were behind the global leaders in the field of tele-medicine and tele-education. Because of COVID we are closing the gap quickly, with a focus on the needs of the Indian population. Indian Govt should help these entrepreneurs expand internationally and use their expertise to provide education & health services worldwide!
10. Negotiations on Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs matters has been completed. Will that help in greater trust... and easier movement of goods?
A10: Yes, that should help transparency and help improve India's exports, which suffer from non-tariff barriers (e.g. Agriculture, drugs & pharma).
11. Central Bankers discussed Financial Inclusion, Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) and Information Security Cooperation. Importance of economic stability in times of global financial shocks.
A11: such regional co-operation is useful for dealing with regional shocks, but for global shocks one needs international co-operation. Can develop payments system for intra-BRICS trade. It can also help Deal with Non-UN sanctions.