Taking national data seriously

Author: Parminder Jeet Singh

The article was first published in The Hindu on October 17, 2020. The views are of the individual author.

In a digital economy, data is the central resource. The Prime Minister recently compared data to property at the advent of the industrial era. Data is being considered as a nation’s new wealth. How data will be employed fruitfully, and its value captured, will decide a nation’s rank in the emerging new global geo-economic and geo-political hierarchies. The global digital or artificial intelligence (AI) economy is currently a two-horse race between the U.S. and China. It is feared that all other countries, including the European Union (EU) and major developing countries such as India, will have to become fully digitally dependent on one of these two digital superpowers. This will considerably compromise their economic and political independence, something referred to as digital colonisation.

The shift to digital power, and its concentration, is very evident. Seven of the top eight companies by market cap globally today are data-based corporations. A decade back, this list was dominated by industrial and oil giants. Almost all top digital corporations in the world are U.S. or Chinese.

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