Now a days, we become more conversant with the terms like digital literacy, digital divide, digital inclusion and digital currency, credit goes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship Scheme, Digital India.
Digital India Scheme is aimed at transforming the country into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. “We have to move from e-governance to m-governance. M-governance does not mean Modi governance. It means mobile governance,” Prime Minister Modi had said at the launch of the scheme on July, 2015. In the speech, He announced that “IT + IT = IT” or, as he elaborated, “Indian Talent + Information Technology = India Tomorrow.”
The Digital India programme is centred on three key vision areas:
- Digital Infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen.
- Governance & Service on Demand
- Digital Empowerment of Citizens
With the above vision, Digital India Scheme aims to create a participative, transparent and responsive government. Here are some key initiatives of Digital India:
- Digital MSME: The scheme envisages promotion of ICT applications to make them “Digital” by adopting new approach of Cloud Computing with the objectives to sensitize and encourage MSMEs towards new approach ie., Cloud Computing for ICT adoption in their production and business processes with a view to improve their competitiveness in National and International Market; Adoption of best practices to improve quality of products and services; and To benefit large number of MSMEs in terms of standardizing their business processes, improvement in productivity through Cloud Computing by reducing the burden of investment on Hardware, Software and Infrastructural Activities using Cloud Platform.
- Digi Locker: The service was launched as an important facility to store pivotal documents like Voter ID Card, Pan Card, BPL Card, Driving License, education certificates, etc. in the cloud.
- in: The portal works as an online platform to engage citizens in governance through a “Discuss”, “Do” and “Disseminate” approach.
- UMANG (https://umang.gov.in): UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-Age Governance) is one of the key initiatives under the Digital India program to develop a common, unified platform and mobile app to facilitate a single point of access to all government services. It is envisaged to act as a master application, which will integrate 200 applications which will offer around 1,200 services of various government departments of the Centre, states and local bodies, and even some important utility services from the private sector.
- Sugamaya Pustakalaya (https://library.daisyindia.org/NALP/welcomeLink.action):
“Sugamaya Pustakalaya” is an online platform that makes accessible content available to print-disabled people. The library houses publications across diverse subjects and languages and multiple accessible formats.
- Passport Seva Kendra (http://www.passportindia.gov.in/): Passport Seva enables simple, efficient and transparent processes for delivery of passport and related services. Apart from creating a countrywide networked environment for Government staff, it integrates with the State Police for physical verification of applicant’s credentials and with India Post for delivery of passports.
- Online Labs (http://www.olabs.edu.in/): Online Labs (OLabs) for school lab experiments provides students with the ease and convenience of conducting experiments over the internet.
- National Scholarship Portal (NSP) (http://scholarships.gov.in/): NSP is a one-stop solution for end-to-end scholarship process right from the submission of student application, verification, sanction and disbursal to end beneficiary for all the scholarships provided by the Government of India.
- eRAKTKOSH (http://www.eraktkosh.in/): The web-based mechanism interconnects all the Blood Banks of the State into a single network. The Integrated Blood Bank MIS refers the acquisition, validation, storage and circulation of various live data and information electronically regarding blood donation and transfusion service.
- mKisan (http://mkisan.gov.in/): mKisan SMS Portal has been conceptualised to give a quantum leap in coverage of farmers and geographical area in a timely, specific, holistic and need based knowledge dissemination among the farmers by leveraging the power of mobile telephony in such a way that all sectors use this platform to not only reach out to the farmers but also to address their concerns and queries.
- MADAD App (http://www.madad.gov.in): Consular Services Management System (MADAD) has been setup for Indian Citizens to log and track Grievances pertaining to the Consular Services offered by the Indian Embassies (Missions/Posts) abroad. Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) with a view to provide mobile enablement of MADAD, has launched MADAD Mobile Application on Android, iOS, and Windows platforms.
- Kisan Suvidha (http://www.kisaansuvidha.com/): Kisan Suvidha is an omnibus mobile app developed to help farmers get relevant information instantly. The app provide information on various details such as weather, market prices, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agriculture machinery, dealers, agro advisories, plant protection and IPM practices etc.
- eSAMPARK (https://sampark.gov.in): e-Sampark is a mechanism to connect the government directly with citizens across India by running mailer, outbound dialling and SMS campaigns. The platform is used for sharing informational and public service messages.
- EPFO Web Portal & Mobile App (http://epfindia.gov.in/site_en/): The web portal for Employees’ Provident Funds Ordinance allows employees to check their EPF balance through an ePassbook which is an online version of their physical passbook. The mobile app allows the members to activate their UAN accounts from the comfort of their mobile phones and can also access their accounts for viewing their monthly credits through the passbook as well view their details available with EPFO.
- Ebiz (https://www.ebiz.gov.in/home/): The focus of eBiz is to improve the business environment in the country by enabling fast and efficient access to Government-to-Business (G2B) services through an online portal. This will help in reducing unnecessary delays in various regulatory processes required to start and run businesses.
- Digital AIIMS (http://ehospital.nic.in/ehospital/): The first step in the Digital AIIMS project was taken in January 2015 with the creation of an effective linkage between AIIMS, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeiTY). A unique health identification number for every patient visiting AIIMS was generated on an Aadhar platform. The Unique Health Identification Number gave every Patient visiting AIIMS a Digital Identity.
- BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money) (http://www.npci.org.in/): Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) is an app that makes payment transactions simple, easy and quick using Unified Payments Interface (UPI). It enables direct bank to bank payments instantly and collect money using a Mobile number or Payment address. Bharat Interface for Money app is currently available on Android and it is downloadable from Google Playstore, for smart phones.
The Digital India Scheme, no doubt is one of the majestic scheme till date because it encirclements all the government machinery and departments in its fold. This year Digital India scheme turned into 2 with the overhead defined key initiatives. One thing is clear with these key initiatives that Modi Govt. is very ardent of this scheme, but there are certain obstacles in the success path of Digital India like non-uniform connectivity, speed, and broadband infrastructure etc.
The biggest challenge for Digital India scheme is the speed of broadband Internet in India. India was ranked 89 globally in broadband internet speeds with an average connection speed of 6.5 Mbps, according to the State of the Internet Q1 2017 Connectivity report by Akamai Technologies which is below the global average connection speed at 7.2 Mbps. Not only developed nations but also the neighbouring countries of India like Sri Lanka (8.5 mbps) offer better internet speed.
Digital literacy or awareness is another challenge in front of Digital India scheme. Digital literacy is a great chore ahead because for the scheme to become successful, it is necessary that mass of people must know how to utilise the digital services. Digital illiteracy is prevalent in most of the towns and villages in India. Cities have adopted digitalization but limited to certain extent.
It is an enormous task to have connectivity with each and every village, town and city. The problem of connectivity is also an intricate issue because every state has different laws pertaining to its execution. Also it is challenging for the central authorities to make a database where such a huge information can be stored.
Cyber Crime is also a big threat for Digitization. With the proliferation of cloud-based services like DigiLocker, data security has emerged as a major challenge. There is cyber threat all over the globe and digital India will not be any exception. Hence we need a strong anti cyber crime team which maintains the database and protects it round the clock
Digital India will help our Youth to fulfil their dreams. We all support Digital India but we should be aware of the obstacles and setbacks, so that we can plan accordingly. Overall this great Scheme will require prodigious efforts from the entire government machinery and people concerned to make it successful.
Sunil Kumar Gupta
Author, Economist & Philanthropist