Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the new Digital Indian AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge, inviting India’s tech and community to create an Aatmanirbhar App Ecosystem aimed at improving the Indian app ecosystem.

The project was launched by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in partnership with the Atal Innovation Mission and government think-tank Niti Aayog.

“This challenge is for you if you have such a working product or if you feel you have the vision and expertise to create such products. I urge all my friends in the tech community to participate.” PM Modi tweeted.

“Today, when the entire nation is working towards creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, it is a good opportunity to give direction to their efforts, momentum to their hard-work and mentorship to their talent to evolve Apps which can satisfy our market as well as compete with the world.” PM Modi’s LinkedIn post said.

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.

Post evaluation, these apps will be given awards and features on “leaderboards for information of citizens”. The government has allocated ₹20 lakh, ₹15 lakh and ₹10 lakh for the first, second and third placed apps in each category. There may also be sub-categories, where winners will get ₹5 lakh, ₹3 lakh and ₹2 lakh for first, second and third position, respectively.

The government says it will also adopt suitable apps and “guide them to maturity”, listing them on government marketplace (GeM). Ease of use, robustness, security and scalability are some of the key evaluation criteria.

While the government hasn’t explicitly said so, the initiative seems to be an extension of the earlier challenge announced to build India’s own video apps. It could also spell trouble for the 59 Chinese apps that were banned, many of which wall within the categories the government is looking at here.

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