Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

Digital Y20: Opportunity to Showcase the Role of Youth in Digital Governance and Democratising the Cyberspace

The world has its eyes set on India as it assumes the G20 Presidency. As the global community is still coping with geopolitical tensions, the pandemic, war, and rising food and fuel prices, the Indian Presidency carries the added encumbrance of bringing in monumental policy recommendations and creating a deep imprint on the global landscape of the international agenda, more specifically for the Global South. India’s G20 Presidency is a beacon of hope for the Global South, to echo the voices of the nations who have borne the brunt of all global challenges and also have the most considerable stakes in the future. This opportunity has come to India at the most fitting time, as India is gearing towards an ambitious and futuristic model of nation-building in its ‘Amrit Kaal.’ India’s G20 theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,’ enshrining the civilisational ethos of “One Earth, One Family, One Future,” imbibes within its Presidency the essence of Swami Vivekananda’s idea of oneness being the secret to everything. Swami Vivekananda was vehement about his belief in the energy and dreams of young people to sustain the future. G20 India’s official youth engagement group is the quintessential amalgamation of the global youth’s vision of change in the largest democracy of the world, promoting ideas of universal oneness and harmony through human-centric globalization, technological prowess, and citizen-centric governance. Y20 India, as a consultation forum, has the vision of empowering youth leaders across the globe to lay a blueprint for India’s technological evolution in becoming a global model for digital governance and transformation, influencing the Global South to emulate India’s vision of making its cyberspace democratic and transparent.

India’s Y20 Summit is an opportunity for Indian youth to lead the global agenda and showcase the Indian model of technological reconstruction, emphasizing the tailored efforts to inform and communicate with youth to promote an open government culture, reflecting the use of digital cyberspace to exhibit their ideas, opinions, and engagement in the democratic processes of the country. India views the role of youth in digital governance as the cornerstone of its socio-political future, one where the government leverages emerging technologies and delivers all government services digitally through integrated and interoperable systems via multiple modes while ensuring the efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services at affordable costs. It weaves together numerous ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision of making the democratic transition a meaningful process, with novel and dynamic ideas of the youth so that each of them can be implemented as part of a larger goal. Y20 India’s priority of a shared future and the role of youth in democracy and governance could involve deliberations, drawing inspiration from India’s journey as a digital-first nation. The most paramount step of this journey is realizing the central role of democratizing the digital ecosystem by laying emphasis on establishing the most forward-looking policies and regulations towards data sovereignty and data localisation in the country. The Indian perception of data sovereignty can be viewed with a panoramic lens, having a domestic and international flavor. In fact, its ramifications are even more far-fetched, encapsulating not just the impact on digital governance but also innovation and global security. The intent of data protection in India goes beyond the attempt to balance the creation of next-generation infrastructure, integrating it with the rest of the world and regulating it in a way that doesn’t stifle innovation and political opinions, particularly of the youth, as they are the most prominent stakeholders of the future. The idea of creating jurisdiction for the flow of data is to have a domestic push backed by a global diplomatic gambit to prevent the entrenchment of rules enabling unbridled cross-border data flows and leveraging data security in bilateral security disputes. Consequently, it acts as a vital tool for economic growth and development by asserting regulatory oversight over the practices of multinational private actors. The global youth can play a pivotal role in pushing the narrative of freedom and empowerment from the shackles of ‘digital colonialism’ through such concerted efforts of the government. In the Indian context, it invokes a greater meaning and depth, underlining the Gandhian values of self-reliance, the pursuit of truth, and accountability. The youth can embrace these values in offering solutions through digital technology and infrastructure to the most complex problems, dedicating themselves to global welfare.

Y20 India would pave the way for youth-centric opinions and recommendations to analyze the positive impact of the digital revolution as seen in India. The young leaders of developing nations would be in a position to assess the need for such a transformation in their respective nation-states. The youth would negotiate and collaborate on this ever-emerging issue of technology, governance, and data security, pitching in affirmative policy reforms for the G20 nations to implement. The consensus-building process among the youth would also provide room for debate on other forms of digital governance, its implications, and methods of data localisation adopted by developed countries across the globe, aiding in the unanimous decision-making of the most appropriate solutions. India’s digital regulatory framework promoting democratization and accountability is a testament to India being rooted in its civilisationally assured constitutional values. This would build on India’s global reputation as a nation which cherishes its democratic culture and encourages the youth to imbibe these ethos, with a vision to preserve it for generations to come. The youth engagement would celebrate India and its unity, diversity, its vibrant democracy and hence, be an infusion of India’s broader vision of making its G20 Presidency inclusive, ambitious, decisive, and action-oriented. India’s Presidency would be a historical experience in every aspect as it aims to leave no one behind. It is India’s time to outshine and illustrate its determination during its ‘Amrit Kaal’ and showcase the potential of being the most emergent nation, with a youth population capable of changing the face of the earth on issues pertaining to global welfare and having a humanity-wide impact. Y20 India would prove to be the most relevant engagement group, driven by the vigor, passion, and dynamism of the global youth.

(Palak Kohli is currently pursuing a LLM in Dispute Resolution from OP Jindal Global University. Views expressed are her own.)