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Innovation Challenge : Is IT sector ready?

The Topic covers GS paper 3 [Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.]

MyGov Innovation | App Challenge


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Aatmanirbhar Innovation Challenge, inviting India’s tech and community to create an Aatmanirbhar App Ecosystem. 

  • The challenge will be regulated under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology along with Atal Innovation Mission and run in two tracks: Promotion of Existing Apps and Development of New Apps. 

What are the two tracks?

  • Under track 01, the government will work in mission mode for identifying good quality Apps for the leader-board and shall be completed in around a month. 

  • This will include existing apps and platforms in categories like E-Learning, Work from home, gaming, business, entertainment, etc. 

  • Under track 02 initiative, the government will work to help create new champions in India by providing support in ideation, incubation, prototyping and roll out along with market access.

What are the opportunities available?

  • With roughly 200 million Indians waiting to be snapped up, a mad dash has ensued to build a viable Indian social network from the ground up. 

  • While the Indian government’s ban targets a slew of apps—from browsers to file-sharing platforms—only a few segments have any real “Indian" alternatives. 

  • E-commerce platforms like Shein and Club Factory were also banned, but Flipkart and Myntra, which are the supposed Indian options, already have mature user bases. 

  • The race for “indigenization" has thus essentially fallen on the shoulders of social media firms, particularly short-video apps. 

  • The prize: the eyeballs of erstwhile users from “Bharat" who were on the banned Chinese apps, which together had nearly one-fourth the total number of users currently on Facebook, the world’s largest social platform. 

How ready is the IT industry?

  • The Indian government waded in late last week with its own app innovation challenge, which seeks to incubate home-grown apps in key sectors. 

  • But this short burst of excitement will soon have to grapple with some real challenges.

  •  Building a social network requires deep pockets, a large innovative workforce, and a market where digital advertising revenue is substantial, among other factors. 

  • Even tech giants like Google have tried and failed many times. 

  • Essentially, this vacuum in the market is an opportunity, but it’s an opportunity for very few players.

  • The fact that these platforms are based in India and keep data in India may also make little difference to the user. 

  • Data residency is often equated with data privacy and security, but the two are unrelated.

  • Data localization only allows the government to regulate the data. It doesn’t offer any additional benefits from a privacy or security point of view at all.


At the end of the day, the ban on Chinese apps has given an impetus to Indian firms to take some time off from competing against billion-dollar companies purely on the strength of their bank balance alone. While there has been no real winner from India in the social media space, there’s also never been a watershed moment like this. Analysts and experts have been repeatedly proven wrong when it comes to the realm of tech over the past decade. The next six months will be a sprint that could set them up for the marathon.