Newsd was the first outlet to report that Nilekani was being mooted for a role as ‘digital advisor’ by the BJP government.
The central government is trying to bring a Plan B to salvage the situation after PM Modi decided to render Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes as ‘mere paper’. Following the move, Credit Suisse Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG estimated that it would slow expansion by about 1% point in the year through March.
Nilekani along with his 13-person committee will be meeting soon to work out a strategy on how to get more Indians to move to digital payments through smartphones and point-of-sale machines in local villages.
“India has the underlying digital financial architecture in place to get this going,” Nilekani said in an interview after the committee’s first meeting. “How quickly the government can reach everyone is a question of execution and speed,” ex-Infosys top honcho added, reported Bloomberg.
“Breaking down the problem into digestible chunks is the first step to solving it,” said Nilekani.
The impact of the money ban, known as demonetization, has been felt the most in the countryside, where cash is preferred for everything from buying clothes and selling produce to paying for weddings.
The committee is expected to meet again this week to look at how to approach those with limited access to technology. While India has 250 million smartphone users, there are about 350 million who only have feature phones while another 350 million don’t have a phone at all, Nilekani said.
The South Bengaluru Congress candidate had recently, in an interview to NDTV, came out in support of the demonetisation move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Demonetisation would see a massive activation of digitisation of financial services in the country, although there will be some amount of ‘short term pain’ in the coming weeks,” he said.
“What would have taken another 3-6 years to get rolled out, I now believe because of the urgency of the matter, will happen in 3-6 months,” Nilekani told NDTV.
“The more important thing is when the economy becomes formal, when everybody’s financial transactions are digitised.”
“India is going to go from data poor to data rich and that will make it more and more difficult for people to do dishonest things or to be outside the system. You will reduce the amount of black money in the system,” the 61-year-old said.