App-ward Mobility: Govt must commit to long-term support for Indian appmakers

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Published: July 7, 2020 7:01 AM

Indian appmakers will find it hard to fill the app vacuum if the govt doesn’t commit to long-term support.

While the government launched the app with much fanfare, and the UPI platform has earned acclaim from even tech giants like Google, innovations have now cooled off.

The Centre’s plan to incubate Indian start-ups comes against the backdrop of having banned wildly popular Chinese apps. The Centre has announced a challenge for companies to bring out new or existing products and receive funding from it. While the intention is laudable, the problem that India has encountered often has been of following through by government to create successful tech companies. Take the BHIM example.

While the government launched the app with much fanfare, and the UPI platform has earned acclaim from even tech giants like Google, innovations have now cooled off. Private players stepped in, otherwise, India’s financial system would have been very different. Similarly, in the case of India Post Bank, the idea of account-opening on the basis of Aadhaar number has simply been shelved. So, if the government does not follow through on its posturing on innovation, the new apps that it wants for filling the vacuum the ban on Chinese apps has created may face the same fate.

The current plan is indeed generous as it offers up to `20 lakh of cash for developers, which is more than enough for apps that are willing to scale up. However, the government needs to ensure that it keeps on supporting such platforms via a public-private partnership model. Examples of such participation are limited in India. In the case of med-tech, for instance, only states like Rajasthan and Karnataka have partnered with a select few platforms. In agriculture, too, most associations have been limited to Karnataka and Punjab. If India is to be aatmanirbhar on the app front, the government will have to partner developers.

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