The e-India in the Making

Introduction

India as a developing country has taken a huge leap in its journey from just being known as the place for outsourcing to becoming an IT hub. Importantly its population which is approximately 1.2 billion and more has evolved into a more tech savvy mass. With about 52% of the total population below 25 years of age, it is no wonder that India has approximately 900 million connections of mobile. For the year 2015, the population of the online community is expected to reach 350 million! This credit of this change can also be given to the Government who has launched close to 1100 schemes for making a ‘Digital India’.

Core Value

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched Digital India as an initiative to bridge the gap between the government services and people. This project is likely to meet its deadline by the year 2019. The main focus of this initiative will be to include high speed internet networks even in the rural areas. Three main aspects of this unique drive are digital infrastructure, digital literacy and delivering services digitally.

Governance of Digital India

The scheme will be under constant supervision of the Digital India Advisory Group which will comprise of the Ministry of Communications and IT. The nature of this project can be termed as a public-private partnership. In actual terms this project was the brain child of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY). It is slated to be introduced in a phased manner and include public accountability by way of electronic delivery of the government services, e-Pramaan as well as a unique ID. The lower most level of the governance includes the State Governments. Above this level are the DeitY and the line ministries. While the DeitY reports into Apex Committee, the line ministries are in direct contact with the Digital India Advisory Group.

Far-sighted Vision

  • The well spelled out initiative of Digital India is divided into three parts with reference to the vision:
  • First is the availability of the infrastructure in the form of utility to each citizen.
  • Second is offering governance and services according to the demand.
  • The prominent part is the third phase focusing on the digital empowerment of each citizen. Provision of high speed internet facility, mobile banking, public cloud services (shareable private space), seamless integration running across various departments, leveraging upon GIS for better decision support systems, every document on cloud and digital resources in the national language are some of the salient features of the vision.

Heart of Digital India Scheme

The Digital India Scheme has a clear cut roadmap with 9 fundamental tools to focus on. Broadband Highways, Public Internet Access Program, eKranti, Electronics Manufacturing, Early Harvest Programs, Universal Access to Phones, e-Governance, Global Awareness and IT Training.

In the Broadband Highways, ‘Broadband for all Rural” targets coverage of 250000 GP while ‘National Information Infrastructure’ is expected to span across the nation. This is also likely to see the amalgamation of SWAN, NOFN and NKN within two years.

By mentioning universal access to mobile connectivity, the Government strives to cover the remaining villages of 42,300. Although the cost of this activity will stretch to almost INR 16000 crores, it is progressing significantly to increase network penetration as well as gap coverage.

Within a span of two to three years, according to public internet access program, the Government envisions to make the customer service centers multi-faceted end points for delivery of services entailing a cost of INR 4750 crores and cover about 150000 post offices for transforming them into multi-service centers.

With so much speculation doing the rounds, e-Governance is one of those aspects that have been eating most of the attention. Reduction of documentation, form simplification, automation in work and maintenance of electronic database are critical areas of this phase.

E-Kranti is the fifth feature of Digital India wherein the Government plans to give free access to Wi-fi in all schools, create awareness for digital literacy program, online medical consultation, online medical supply, online medical database, introduction of decision making on the basis of GIS, e-Police, micro-ATM program, e-Courts, e-Prosecution and National Cyber Security Co-ordination Division.

Early Harvest Programmes is the last but equally vital an aspect of Digital India. It vies for creating an IT platform for mass messages, send government greetings electronically, maintain the biometric system for attendance at all the government offices of Delhi. It also intends to provide wi-fi in all the universities at a cost of INR 790 crores, a secured system of emails across all the government offices, maintain government email templates for all possible occasions, public wifi hotspots, eBooks, sms based weather broadcasts and national website for lost and found children.

Benefits of the Digital India Scheme

Information to all is a benefit that seeks to let all the citizens get swift access to information. By leveraging on the social media network, the Government will strive to maintain a two way communication channel between the Government and its people. Through Electronics Manufacturing, Digital India is expected to focus on net zero imports whereby set top boxes, mobiles, smart energy meters, micro ATMs, VSATs, Consumer and Medical Electronics as well as smart cards receive a positive thrust.

In a span of two to five years, the national scheme through ‘IT for jobs’ aspires to make the masses tech savvy. This program will include IT trainings to educate about 1 crore students. It is expected to cost approximately INR 200 crores and will be chaired by DeitY. The entire plan is to also train the service delivery agents (initial target of 300000) for sensitizing the need of an IT enabled culture. The Telecom sector under this initiative will groom the rural workforce to meet their own needs.

Moreover, the key benefit of Digital India Program aims at luring investors in making their investments in the field of electronics manufacturing, job creation and eventually supports trading. Forecasting every Indian to possess a smartphone by the year 2019, Telecom Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “We want to ensure that all the services can be provided through a mobile handset, especially, health, education, various government services and retail. We want it (handset) to be used as a tool for empowerment. We will need to incentivize its usage in order to promote the social and the economic objectives of the government."

India is definitely growing digitally but to encompass a larger mass in this road of progress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ drive is a move that can make the difference. With this program, people irrespective of being from urban, rural or semi – urban population can gain digital literacy and participate in Digital India Program. Moreover the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna will enable people from BPL levels to upgrade themselves in being a part of Digital India Program. The program has not only covered the urban but rural areas as well to leave no stone unturned towards a society and culture that is driven technologically and information wise. Moreover, digital giants namely Google, Facebook and many more have extended their hands and showcased their interest in associating themselves with Digital India Program.

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