The Digital India initiative seeks to lay emphasis on e-governance and transform India into a digitally empowered society. Digitalisation will prepare the country for knowledge-based transformation. It is to ensure that government services are available to citizens electronically. It will focus on providing high speed internet services to its citizens and make services available in real time for both online and mobile platform. Digital India also aims to transform ease of doing business in the country. Modi's government is focusing on providing broadband services, tele-medicine and mobile healthcare services in all villages of the country and making the governance more participative.
Digital India programme is focused on three key ideas:-
l Creation of Digital Infrastructure and Electronic Manufacturing in Native India.
l Delivery of all Government Services electronically (E-Governance).
l Digital Empowerment of Native Indian People.
The three key Digital Tools which will act as the pillars of the project are:
l A Digital Identification which will verify the end user.
l A bank account for Immediate Benefit Transfers of subsidies and payments.
l A mobile for worldwide access to all services.
The government of India aims to achieve the following through Digitalisation:
1. Infrastructure: The Digital India initiative has a vision to provide high speed internet services to its citizens in all gram panchayats. Bank accounts will be given priority at individual level. People will be provided with safe and secure cyber space in the country.
2. Governance and services: Government services will be available online where citizens will be ensured easy access to it. Transactions will be made easy through electronic medium. Cloud facility will be available. Thus all government documents/certificates will be available on the Cloud.
3. Digital empowerment of citizens: This is one of the most important factors of the Digital India initiative to provide universal digital literacy and make digital sources easily accessible. The services are also provided in Indian languages for active participation.
Government would be focusing on certain areas that can be termed as nine pillars of growth.
1. Broadband Highways – High speed connectivity and high speed internet
2. Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity – To reach inaccessible areas.
3. Public Internet Access Programme – Connect India to the world and newer ideas. It’s a National Rural Internet Mission.
4. E-Governance – Improving governance using technology. This is to improve the governance to citizen interface for various service deliveries.
5. E-Kranti – Deliver services electronically and thus in a faster and time bound manner. This is helpful in education, healthcare, planning, security, financial inclusion, justice, farmers, etc.
6. Information for all – This will bring in transparency and accountability by easy and open access to documents and information to the citizens.
7. Electronics manufacturing – This will encourage manufacturing of electronics in India and reduce electronics import and help in job creation too. This will help in achieving goals of ‘Make in India’ initiative also.
8. IT for jobs – Employment opportunities will be increased as well as training aspect will be focused under ‘Skill India’ programme. Focus will be more on IT training.
9. Early Harvest programme – This has a number of programmes which are to be implemented within a short timeline. It addresses development in a variety of
sectors like education (school as well as university level), weather forecast, telecom, social problems like lost and
found children, etc.
ADVANTAGES OF DIGITISATION
l Transparency. Online service portals will reduce the delays. All procedures would be transparent.
l No corruption as IT official can track records easily.
l Convenient and easier.
l Improves the quality of service.
l Less documentation required. Safe storing of docu-
ments with digital lockers. Possibility of loss would
l Financial transactions would become cashless above a threshold.
l More employment in IT sector. Indian villages will be benefited most as with the phase of digitalisation.
The villages would be provided with even more of basic
amenities (like electricity would be surely provided as it is a base for digitalisation).
l Villagers will get an opportunity to discover new things through internet facilities.
l All the above initiatives will open up opportunities to Indian manufacturers and entrepreneurs, thus helping employment in a direct and indirect way.
DISADVANTAGES OF DIGITISATION
l Hacking poses a threat to digital transactions. However, adopting safe cyber security solutions can curb this problem.
l Government employment might reduce which in turn may lead to civil servants’ unrest.
l People may misuse free wifis located in Public places
l The Indian experience of using ICTs (Information & communication technology) in governance for the past 15 years is not something that we can be proud of.
l There is lack of digital literacy in India.
l Lack of affordable smartphones - "When you talk about Digital India, the first step is access to at least a smartphone. Access to affordable smartphone should be there to avail all the facilities of the campaign.
l Linguistic diversity of India - Indian diversity in language makes it more challenging for integration that is integration of language with technology.
l India is more prone to cybercrime as no rigid measures are available for cyber security in India.
l Issue of last mile connectivity - India has thousands of villages with no active electric supply - digitalising them is difficult.
l The Digital India plan comes at a time when the debate of net neutrality has still not been resolved. Net neutrality is important for entrepreneurs, who play a major role in this whole campaign. Hence, it is of the utmost importance that the debate be resolved at the earliest.
l People’s mindsets are still pre-digital, as is the functioning of government’s public interface.
l The server is down in pre-digital and post-digital India.
l Low internet speed with high prices - for the success of digital India, broadband connection is a must. Surely it would not work on 2G. Prices of 3G and 4G are so high that everyone can’t afford it.
In short, If digitisation is properly implemented, Digital India can be a very powerful tool for delivering government
services seamlessly, without delays or harassment or
corruption to all sections of society. This includes delivery
of targeted subsidies, farm extension services, health care
— The author is the Deputy Zonal Manager,
Dena Bank, Zonal Office, Kolkata.
[The views expressed by the author in this article is his own.]