Digital India as defined by the Government of India (GOI), a programme to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. It is being co-ordinated by the Department of Electronics and Information technology (DEITY), GOI but is an umbrella programme covering all other departments with a single goal i.e., to prepare India for a knowledge future. The move is laudable as common branding is now possible with “Digital India”. Bharatiya Janata Party led by tech savvy Narendra Modi promised 100 smart cities by 2019 and broadband connectivity to every village. India is the second most populous country with largest population of non-internet users in any country. Indian economy is set to explode as world sees with a different outlook. There is no doubt internet user base in India increase exponentially in the next coming years. India is a country of mobile phones, said Jack Ma-Founder, Alibaba. Mobile revolution helps GOI achieve targets easier than expected.
A whopping sum of one lakh crores are being spent for the initiative.
Impact of Digital India by 2019 (Source: DEITY, GOI)
- Broadband in 2.5 lakh villages, universal phone connectivity •
- Net Zero Imports by 2020
- 400,000 Public Internet Access Points
- Wi-Fi in 2.5 lakh schools, all universities; Public Wi-Fi hotspots for citizens
- Digital Inclusion: 1.7 Cr trained for IT, Telecom and Electronics Jobs
- Job creation: Direct 1.7 Cr. and Indirect at least 8.5 Cr
- e-Governance & e-Services: Across government
- India to be leader in IT use in services – health, education, banking
- Digitally empowered citizens – public cloud, internet access
Digital India looks promising as aggressive bidding by telecom companies is seen in the recent auction. Given that the government is taking electronic route in allotting spectrum and coal blocks, it is promoting the initiative. The government itself is overseeing the work of laying broadband highways to each panchayat without outsourcing it to the private agencies. GOI plans to expand (Common Services Centres (CSCs) to 2.5Lakh Gram Panchayats. It is simply not a goal but to enhance delivery of services to all its citizens. Digital services must include visa, passport, tax filings, land registrations, office, police, pensions, health, education, treasuries, agriculture, excise, insurance, banking, public distribution system, business, procurements and many.
#Affordability- It is OK that the Government is trying hard to empower every village digitally and bring transparency through e-delivery of citizen services but how people can afford high speed internet and electronic gadgets is to be seen. Our leaders like Narendra Modi and Nara Chandrababu Naidu are bullish over National optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project. This project covers optical fibre connectivity to every household. If states wish to take up the project on their own, Centre will fund the same. But so far, only Andhra Pradesh has taken up the initiative with centre’s co-operation. Centre hopes other states too would take up soon. Mobile phones have already become cheaper especially smart phones come handy at attractive prices. The previous UPA govt. tied up with DataWind to provide tablet PCs at subsidised price but halted for various reasons.
It is highly expected that the present govt. will proceed considering subsidised gadgets and data charges.
#Skills- Large section of population have no access to internet and therefore lack internet skills and have no idea of using electronic gadgets. With the technology growing rapidly, it is up to Government to
make people ready for a digital changeover. Make people proactive in adapting digital technologies
#Infrastructure- Given a boost to infrastructure, budgetary support specific to establishing IT infrastructure is need of the hour. Many global entities including IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter have already shown interest in partnering with the govt. Cisco has come forward to help build digital education modules.
The digital revolution should be transparency driven. Transformation of political ecosystem in this country is a big positive as it brings in transparency. Even companies/industries which are digitally connected are about 26% more profitable than those which are not. It is from a farmer to an industrialist who can find ways to benefit from the digital revolution.
Everyone’s participation is necessary to build Digital India
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