New Delhi: India’s CoWIN technological platform which is spearheading its COVID-19 vaccination drive can be customised and scaled up for health interventions across the globe, a senior Ministry of External Affairs official said on Wednesday, noting that New Delhi is working on sharing this platform with partner countries.

Addressing the ASEAN-India Track 1.5 Dialogue on Cyber Issues, Secretary (East) Riva Ganguly Das also said that some states are leveraging their expertise in cyberspace to achieve their political and security-related objectives and indulge in contemporary forms of cross-border terrorism.

“At the same time, non-state actors and terrorists around the world are using cyberspace to broaden their appeal, spread virulent propaganda, incite hatred and violence, recruit youth and raise funds,” Das said.

There are widespread concerns that with the advent of new technologies like 5G, vulnerabilities and harmful hidden functions are being introduced, including through backdoor channels, into ICT networks and products, she stressed.

Noting that since cybercrime often has a transnational dimension, Das said there is a crucial need for international cooperation to exchange experiences and share best practices for the protection of information infrastructures.

“Our overarching objective is to harness cyberspace for the growth and empowerment of people, not just of our own country, but for all humanity,” she asserted.

As part of its COVID vaccination drive, one of the largest such drives in the world, India has developed CoWIN a scalable, inclusive and open technological platform, she said.

“The CoWIN platform can be customised and scaled up for health interventions across the globe. We are working on sharing this platform with partner countries in the interest of health cooperation and their preparedness to meet challenges to the health of countries across the world,” Das said.

She underlined that India lays huge emphasis on bilateral and international cooperation on cyber security.

“The need for cooperation between India and ASEAN member countries in this field is, therefore, self-evident,” she said.

ASEAN, as we know, has been proactive in the region’s efforts to tackle cyber security challenges and has undertaken various cyber confidence-building measures, she noted.

Das said this emphasis of ASEAN on Cyber Security and Cyber connectivity in accordance with international laws resonates deeply with India’s approach towards Cyberspace.

India has also been working domestically to address the cyber security challenges through platforms capable of supporting and sustaining the efforts in securing the cyberspace as well as through the adoption of comprehensive policies such as the New National Cyber Security Policy, which would provide an overview of what it takes to effectively protect information, information systems and networks, Das said.

Noting that equitable access to Cyberspace and its benefits is the other important area that India-ASEAN engagement on Cyber issues needs to focus on, Das said, “We have witnessed the critical role played by digital technologies during the Covid-19 waves, in keeping the supply chains open for an accelerated and sustainable economic recovery in the region and therefore, it becomes all the more important that the digital inequalities are addressed.”

Digital inclusion is at the heart of the Digital India programme which envisions transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy with various programmes like BharatNet, Digital Village, Aspirational Districts, MyGov and eKranthi, Das pointed out.

This gradual digital inclusion has proven to be of immense value to us in these uncertain times, she said.

“We must cooperate to bridge this digital divide through capacity building to create globally secure cyberspace,” she added.

Das asserted that India is committed to an “open, secure, free, accessible and stable cyberspace environment”, which will become an engine for innovation, economic growth, sustainable development, ensure free flow of information and respect cultural and linguistic diversity.

“With our transformative technology initiatives in recent years such as IndiaStack, Aadhar and UPI, we have successfully leveraged the tremendous potential of cyber technologies in implementing the SDG agenda and improving governance,” Das said.

Moving forward, India is keen to exchange its experiences with ASEAN toward a safer and more secure global cyberspace for our peoples, Das said.

Also read | New CoWIN code to fix errors on vaccination status

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