Gordon Johnson / Pixabay
Gordon Johnson / Pixabay

How is e-governance and the Internet of Things (IoT) changing the everyday lives of the people of India and China, and how are these multifaceted changes affecting international relations?

Congratulations to Åshild Kolås, who will lead the project e-Topia: China, India and Biometric Borders, which has now received 4-year funding from the Foreign Policy programme of the Research Council of Norway. Congratulations also to project participant Mareile Kaufmann, as well as partners in Asia; Centre for Internet and Society, Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development, Hezhou University and Digital Asia Hub.

This project studies how e-governance and the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing the everyday lives of the people of India and China, and how these multifaceted changes impact on international relations.

It thus studies Indian and Chinese approaches to IoT, and how Indian and Chinese policymakers and corporations balance conflicting goals of cyber sovereignty and digital standardization.

The title ‘e-Topia’, refers to the place of the digital in visions of the future. Despite their differences, India and China both have “e-Topian” ambitions of harnessing “smart” solutions to revolutionize governance, services and a range of industries, while digitalization drives economic growth. Travel between India and China is on the rise, although their high-altitude border remains unresolved.

As the Asian contribution to the “smart technology” market continues to grow, the relationship between India and China is increasingly dependent on the compatibility of their digitalization efforts. China’s Belt and Road initiative seeks to open up new transportation routes between China and South Asia, which requires new thinking about the use of electronic passports. As China and India expand the use of biometric data registration and Unique IDs in their digitalization schemes, biometric borders are where the “e-Topian” futures of India and China will meet.