Digital India initiative is one of the most ambitious projects of the Government of India; it is part of PM Narendra Modi’s vision of making India a ‘digitally empowered knowledge economy’.
What is Digital India Initiative
Digital India initiative is an extended and transformed version of e-Governance project which is in place since mid-1990s. Various e-Governance projects all over the country encompassing all the government departments have not been able to bring about desired results. Thus there was a need felt by the current government to overhaul the present infrastructure of e-governance plan and also include additional objectives in the new initiative.
Through the implementation of this scheme, the gap between government departments and people in general would be minimized. Services and benefits provided by the government would reach to the citizens in quick time and without much hassle. It will also ensure local electronic manufacturing and job creations for Indians.
Therefore, to realize the objective of making India a ‘Digital Society’ and a ‘Knowledge Economy’, PM Narendra Modi envisioned the scheme of “Digital India” so as to transform the entire concept of Governance by making it more transparent and accessible to the citizen.
The Digital India initiative is being envisaged by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) but other ministries are also involved such as Ministry of Communications & IT, Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Health and others also.
Digital India Initiative Launched
PM Narendra Modi launched the ambitious Digital India initiative on 1 July 2015 at a ceremony held in New Delhi to celebrate first Digital India Week, in the presence of top CEOs from India and abroad. The industry lauded this new initiative as an important milestone in transforming India’s digital infrastructure for the next generation and also as a catalyst for investment in technology sector and in employment generation. These CEOs have committed to invest Rs. 4.5 lakh crore for the initiative to make it a success.
Vision Areas of Digital India
The main vision of Digital India initiative is to ‘transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy’.
To achieve this vision, the government has marked three Vision Areas, viz.:
- Making digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen.
- Making Governance and public services on demand.
- Making citizens digitally empowered.
Important objectives under these vision areas are:
- High-speed internet connectivity for fast delivery of public services.
- Creation of unique digital identity for every citizen.
- Providing private space on public cloud.
- Making cyber-space safe and secure.
- To make government services available in real time through online medium.
- To improve ease of doing business through transformed digital services.
- Financial transactions are to be made cashless and electronic.
- Universalization of digital literacy.
- Making digital resource and services available in Indian languages.
- Making governance citizen participative through collaborative digital platform.
Nine Key Initiatives under Digital India Scheme
Under Digital India programme, 9 key initiatives are in progress, which are as follows:
- Broadband Highways:
The aim is to connect 250000 Gram Panchayats through high speed internet by December 2016 with the investment of Rs 32,000 crore; Nationwide internet infrastructure through National Optic Fibre Network (NOFK) by 2016.
- Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity:
The aim is to connect all the remaining 42300 villages which are unconnected through mobile telephony with the investment of Rs 16000 crore by the financial year 2018.
- National Rural Internet Mission:
The aim is to make available government services to all Gram Panchayats through Common Service Centres (CSCs) by March 2017 with the investment of Rs. 4750 crore; also, 150000 Post-Offices are to become Multi-service Centres by 2016.
- e- Governance:
The aim is to simplify government business processes by introduction of IT, online interface and tracking across departments, integration of services and platforms-UIDAI, Payment Gateway, Mobile Platform etc; public grievance redressal through IT.
The aim is electronic delivery of services be it education, agriculture, health, justice or financial inclusion.
- Information for All:
The aim is online hosting of data and proactive engagement with citizen through social media and web portals such as MyGov.in; citizen will have open access to information and open data platform.
- Electronic Manufacturing:
The aim is Net Zero imports by 2020 through increased level of local manufacturing of electronic items such as: Set Top Boxes, VSATs, Mobiles, Consumer and medical Electronics, Smart Cards etc.; efforts will be made to provide clarity on taxation, incentives, skill development and government procurement.
- Training and Job Creation:
The aim is to train students in small towns and villages for IT sector jobs; the target is training of 1 crore students in next five years to make them IT ready workforce; Setting up BPOs in each North Eastern State; Telecom service providers will train 500000 people in five years to create a Telecom ready rural workforce to cater to their own needs.
- Early Harvest Programme:
All Universities across the country will be connected through Wi-Fi by December 2015; e-mail to be the primary mode of communication- to secure e-mail services across all departments of government; Biometric attendance in all Ministries and Departments.
Challenges before Digital India Initiative
The Digital India project, no doubt is one of the grandest projects till date because it embraces all the government machinery and departments in its fold; its aim is to create a truly participatory democracy with the use of digital technology; its target is to connect more than 120 crore Indians with their Government so that they could avail services and benefits of government services in real time and also get their grievances redressed in quick time.
But to implement this scheme is a great challenge before the Government; firstly, connecting 250000 Gram Panchayats through National Optical Fibre Network is not an easy task; it will require a lot of efforts and dedication from BSNL, the nodal agency for laying down the cables; secondly, improving IT literacy is a great task ahead because for the project to become successful, it is necessary that mass of people must know how to utilize the digital services; thirdly, security of data is very important because digital medium is still very unsafe and data vulnerability is a big issue specially in financial transactions; thus, internet data security is a big concern ahead; fourthly, making Digital India scheme known and creating an awareness among common masses about its benefits is also a great challenge.
Overall this great initiative will require great efforts from the entire government machinery and people concerned to make it successful.
Push for Digital India Initiative by Narendra Modi during his United States Visit
On 26 September 2015, PM Narendra Modi addressed a gathering of CEOs of top Tech Companies in Silicon Valley, San Jose, US. He made a pitch for the Digital India initiative and explained to them that Digital India is an initiative to transform India in a way which is unmatched in the History.
PM invited Tech majors to set up electronic manufacturing bases in India; he urged Apple CEO Tim Cook to set up manufacturing unit in India. The PM also announced the plan to expand WiFi connectivity across 500 railway stations in India, in collaboration with Google; Microsoft also announced an early plan to make available Cloud Services operated out of India.
Top leaders of Tech Companies are in agreement with the vision of Digital India and are willing to invest resources for the purpose; thus the current push by PM Narendra Modi would surely be helpful in realizing his Digital India dream.