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Data Sharing by PSUs Crossing the Last Mile

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February 16, 2022

Why in news?

A policy framework for sharing data is the need of the hour and Karnataka govt’s e-Sahamathi initiative shows the way.

What is the journey of data sharing by the public sector in India?

  • Before 2005- In India, before 2005, the right to information was recognised as a fundamental right by various international declarations/conventions and even a few State governments in India.
  • After 2005- Right to Information Act was enacted in 2005 to empower citizens through transparency and accountability.
  • However, for most part, the onus remained on the citizen to seek information from public authorities.
  • National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) of 2012 was released whereby every public authority was required to share non-personal, non-sensitive data produced using public funds (also called as open data) for promoting transparency and driving innovation.

What are the social and economic benefits of data sharing?

  • It is estimated that by 2025, data and AI could add up to 500 billion dollar to India’s GDP.
  • Studies suggest that data access and sharing can help generate social and economic benefits worth between 0.1% and 1.5% of global GDP in the case of public-sector data.
  • The scope for innovating and driving positive change is enormous in case of data exchange between public-private sector in a trusted ecosystem.

What are the challenges?

  • Unsustainable models- Many of the start-ups require complete, accurate and validated datasets to train/test their AI-based models, to make predictions/draw conclusions or to be able to provide personalised or customised services.
  • For data exchange/sharing, businesses source primary data from the field, enter into bilateral deals for data sharing, use open datasets in public/private sector, or obtain data without appropriate consent/legal compliance which are not sustainable.
  • Data privacy- Data privacy or confidentiality issues may arise on seeking, operating or holding data.
  • Absence of data exchange platforms- For an efficient data economy, it is imperative that data consumers can interact with one/multiple data fiduciaries through a platform.
  • In the absence of such a mechanism, the cost of discovery, negotiation and compliance would render the ecosystem inefficient.
  • Lack of policy framework- There is a lack of enabling policy framework to accelerate data sharing and purpose-based application in a rights-respecting environment.

How Karnataka government’s e-Sahamathi initiative shows the way?

  • e-Sahamathi is a tool to empower citizens to own, control and share their data with various private and public companies to get jobs, seek admission in universities or colleges, and any such purpose.
  • The digital platform was developed by the e-Governance Department of the government with support of National Informatics Centre.
  • Working- Under the system, a citizen has to login using his Aadhaar number and share his/her data with companies by making a request to the Consent Manager of e-Sahamathi.
  • The Consent Manager would send the data to the companies/universities or any other entity.
  • Universities and companies have to register with e-Sahamathi to be able to access the data.
  • Prior consent- e-Sahamathi allows a citizen to provide her consent to interested third party private service providers to use her data for specified purpose.
  • Grievance redressal- There is a requirement to appoint a grievance redressal officer for handling/disposing of user grievances/complaints.
  • Any complaint will have to be resolved within 30 days of receipt.
  • Other provisions-  Other provisions include
    • auditing the service provider
    • preventing misuse of data
    • data retention and data deletion upon revocation of consent
  • Extension of services- Keeping in view the principles of cooperative federalism, the guidelines also provide for extending the services of e-Sahamathi as a consent manager to other State governments and the Centre.
  • Benefits
    • ensures privacy
    • data protection
    • eliminates physical verification of certificates/documents
    • eliminates submission of fake certificates by candidates
    • avoids delay and corruption
    • ensures lawfulness, fairness and transparency

What lies ahead?

  • With fourth industrial revolution technologies, data can be used, re-used and re-purposed with infinite possibilities.
  • Through appropriate technologies and governance frameworks, data sharing can enable benefits and innovation.
  • Access to public sector data and private sector data in a trusted ecosystem, which is consent-based and purpose-driven, will be instrumental in creating value and promote equitable access to digital and data economy.



  1. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/data-sharing-by-psus-crossing-the-last-mile/article65051948.ece
  2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/karnataka-will-roll-out-e-sahamathi-for-sharing-degree-certificate-and-other-such-documents/article64842283.ece


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