Essay on Changing Face Of Digital India

Digital India is an initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 2nd July, 2015 with the aim to connect rural areas with high speed internet networks and improving digital literacy. In the words of Shri Narendra Modi “We want to have one mission and target: Take the nation forward Digitally and Economically”. Digital India comprises various initiatives under the single programme, each targeted to prepare India for becoming a knowledge economy and for bringing good governance to citizens through synchronised and coordinated engagement of the entire government.

This programme has been envisaged and coordinated by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) in collaboration with various Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments. The Prime Minister as the Chairman of Monitoring Committee on Digital India, activities under the Digital India initiative is being carefully monitored. All the existing and ongoing e-Governance initiatives have been revamped to align them with the principles of Digital India. The vision of Digital India is based on three key areas, namely

  1. Digital Infrastructure as a Utility to Every Citizen
  • Availability of high speed internet as a core utility for delivery of services to citizens.
  • To give digital identity that is unique, lifelong, online and authenticable to every citizen.
  • Mobile phone and bank account enabling citizen participation in digital and financial space.
  • Easy access to a Common Service Centre.
  • Shareable private space on a public cloud in form of “digital locker.” Safe and secure cyber-space.
  1. Governance & Services on Demand
  • Seamlessly integrated services across departments or jurisdictions.
  • Availability of services in real time from online and mobile platforms.
  • All citizen entitlements to be portable and available on the cloud.
  • Making financial transactions electronic and cashless.
  1. Digital Empowerment of Citizens, which include
  • Universal digital literacy.
  • Universally accessible digital resources.
  • Collaborative digital platforms for participative governance.
  • Citizens not required to physically submit government documents/certificates

Apart from the key focus areas, there are certain services provided by Digital India Programme, these include

  • Digital Locker: It is a facility that will help citizens to digitally store their important documents like PAN card, passport, mark sheets and degree certificates. Digital Locker will provide secure access to government issued documents. It uses authenticity services provided by Aadhaar. It is aimed at eliminating the use of physical documents. Three key stakeholders of DigiLocker are citizen, issuer and requester.
  • gov.in: A website, launched by PM Narendra Modi to keep a record of the attendance of government employees on a real-time basis.
  • in: A platform to share inputs and ideas on matters of policy and governance. It is a platform for citizen engagement in governance, through a “Discuss”, “Do” and “Disseminate” approach.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Mobile app: It is being used by people and government organisations for achieving the goals of Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • eSign framework: It allows citizens to digitally sign a document online using Aadhaar authentication.
  • e-Hospital: The application provides important services such as appointment, online diagnostic reports, enquiring availability of blood online etc.
  • National Scholarship Portal: It is a one-step solution for end to end scholarship process right from submission of student application, verification, sanction and disbursal to end beneficiary for all the scholarships provided by the Government of India.
  • e-Sampark: It is a mechanism to contact citizens electronically, sending informational and public service messages via e-mails, SMSs and outbound dialing.

DeitY has undertaken an initiative namely Digitize India Platform (DIP) for large scale digitisation of records in the country that would facilitate efficient delivery of services to the citizens. Policy initiatives have also been undertaken (by DeitY) in the e-Governance domain like e-Kranti Framework, Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India, Framework for Adoption of Open Source Software in e-Governance Systems etc. Another initiative taken in this regard includes Bharat Net, a high speed digital highway to connect all 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats of country. BSNL has introduced Next Generation Network (NGN) which is an IP based technology to manage all types of services like voice, data, multimedia/video and other types of packet switched communication services. BPO Policy has been approved to create BPO centres in different North-Eastern states and also in smaller/mofussil towns of other states. Electronics Development Fund (EDF) Policy aims to promote Innovation, R&D, and Product Development to create a self-sustaining eco-system of Venture Funds. National Centre for Flexible Electronics (NCFlexE) is an initiative of Government of India to promote research and innovation in the emerging area of Flexible Electronics. National Agriculture Market (NAM), a Pan-India electronic trading portal, which networks the APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.

At the launch ceremony of Digital India Week by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on 1st July, 2015, top CEOS from India and abroad committed to invest ₹ 224.5 lakh crore (US$ 3.5 trillion) towards this initiative. Apart from this, the leaders from Silicon Valley, San Jose. California expressed their support for Digital India during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to US in September, 2015. Google committed to provide broadband connectivity on 500 railway stations in India. Microsoft agreed to provide broadband connectivity to five hundred thousand villages in India and make India its cloud hub through Indian data centres. The programme has been favoured by multiple countries including the US, Japan, South Korea, the UK, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

India has made few achievements in e-governance projects such as Digital Locker, e-basta, the linking of Adhaar to bank accounts to disburse subsidies. Bharat Net (erstwhile National Optical Fibre Network), the country’s digital infrastructure, has created a common service centre for each Panchayat. According to a report by Akamai (a US-based content delivery and cloud service provider), India’s average broadband speed is 23.5 Mbps and maximum speed is 25.5 Mbps. Here India’s position is far more better than other South Asian countries. Apart from this, initiatives like NAM (National Agriculture Market), National Scholarship Portal, government has created enough opportunities for the development of agriculture and students respectively.

India ranks 91 on the Networked Readiness Index, a key component of World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report, 2016. The unimpressive performance of India in terms of Network Readiness Index (NRI) as compared to other countries (Sweden (3rd), Norway (4th), US (5th), highlights the weaknesses at which India needs to look closely and address the issue. Some of the concerns include lack of internet connection to many people in rural areas, nearly 33% of Indian population is functionally illiterate, lack of electricity, obsolete technology etc.

The technological revolution in India has benefited the already privileged sectors of Indians. It is also difficult to scale up initiatives to affect all Indians, as fundamental attitudinal and institutional change is still an issue. While much ICT research has been conducted in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, poorer states such as Bihar and Odisha are rarely mentioned. The governments must adjust solutions to the specific political-social context of the nation and technology must be accompanied by significant changes in policy and institutions in order to have meaningful impact. The estimated impact of Digital India by 2019 would be cross cutting, ranging from broadband connectivity in all Panchayats, Wi-fi in schools and universities and Public Wi-Fi/hotspots. The programme will generate huge number of IT, Telecom and Electronics jobs, both directly and indirectly. Success of this programme will make India Digitally empowered and the leader in usage of IT in delivery of services related to various domains such as health, education, agriculture, banking etc.