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 or more, has evolved into a more tech savvy mass. With about 52% of the total population below 25 years of age, it is unsurprising that India has approximately 900 millionmobile connections . By 2015, the population of the online community reached 350 million! The credit for this change must be given to the Government having launched close to 1100 schemes for making a Digital India
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.
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 for introduced in a phased manner and includes public accountability through electronic delivery of government services, e-Pramaan as well as a unique ID. The lower level of governance includes the State Governments. Above them are the DeitY and the line ministries. While the DeitY reports to an 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:
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, the scheme rural targets with coverage of 250000 GP, while the 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 42,300 villages. 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 customer service centers multi-faceted with 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, e-Governance is one of those aspects that have been garnering heavy 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 aspect of Digital India. It vies for creating an IT platform for mass messages, sending government greetings electronically, maintaining biometric systems for attendance at all the government offices of Delhi. It also intends to provide Wi-Fi at 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 Wi-Fi hotspots, eBooks, SMS based weather broadcasts and national website for lost and found children.
Information is a benefit that seeks to let all 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 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 proposition is to also train 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 Digital India Program aims at luring investors in making their investments in the field of electronics manufacturing, job creation and, eventually, support 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 and be a part of the Digital India Program. The program has not only covered the urban, but the rural areas and has ambitions of leaving no stone unturned towards a society and culture that is driven technologically and byinformation . Moreover, digital giants namely Google, Facebook and others have extended their hands and showcased their interest in associating themselves with the Digital India Program.
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