What is Digital India?
Digital India programme is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his speech said “our youth has surprised the world with IT skills. Our ancestors used to play with snakes, we play with mouse.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the digital India week on 1 July . The programme is launced at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. The function at Indira Gandhi was not less than corporate product launch, It had all the glitz of money, multimedia, videos, tall promises. We are at the end of digital India week. With the launch of this programme, the government is taking a big step forward to transform the country into a digitally empowered nation. Many top industry leaders like Mukesh Ambani, Satya Nadella, Cyrus Mistry and Azim Premji gave their attendance on the launch of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ambitious ‘Digital India’ programme.
Digital India programme Objectives
- National Optic Fibre Network (NOFN), aiming to link India’s 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through over 70,000 km of high speed optic fibre in the next three years thereby enabling over 600 million Indians to harness the benefits of modern communication.
- The programme includes projects that aim to ensure that government services are available to citizens electronically and people get benefit of the latest information and communication technology.
- This vision is centred on three key areas: creation of digital infrastructure, delivery of governance and services on demand, and digital empowerment of citizens.
- Reliance Industries will invest Rs 2,50,000 crore across the Digital India pillars, said Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani at the launch of the Digital India Week .
Nine Pillars of Modi’s Digital India Programme
- JOBS : One crore students will be trained in smaller towns and cities in five years, to develop a skilled workforce for such BPOs and the IT sector.
- DIGITAL LOCKER : This online locker will be able to store all documents issued to you by the government, and will require an Aadhar card as identification for the first time. After that you will be able to set your own password and even link it with a Google or Facebook account. Services such as passport applications might become fully online when the relevant authorities are able to access your verified documents online. You won’t be required to go to a government office with a folder full of documents.
- BROADBAND HIGHWAYS : broadband highways will be routes through which internet connectivity will reach 2,50,000 gram panchayats by December 2016. Reliance Jio’s 4G plans will also figure in this ambitious programme, which will make for a National Fibre Optic Network by 2016.
- MOBILE CONNECTIVITY : Over 42,000 villages will have seamless mobile connectivity by 2018. This will require Rs 20,000 crore worth of investment.
- PUBLIC INTERNET ACCESS PROGRAMME : A total of 150,000 Post Offices are proposed to be converted into multi service centres. Department of Posts would be the nodal department to implement this scheme.
- INFORMATION FOR ALL :
- Open Data platform and online hosting of information & documents would facilitate open and easy access to information for citizens.
- Online messaging to citizens on special occasions/programs would be facilitated through emails and SMSes.
- MANUFACTURING : India consumes up to $100 billion in electronics every year, most of which are imported, including products like mobile phones, computers, SIM cards, smart cards, set top boxes, LED lights, cameras, televisions, medical electronics and the massive electronic segment in defence manufacturing. There is a need for manufacturing electronics in India for the growing Indian market. Government has announced the Make in India programme, which complements Digital India by encouraging local and foreign manufacturers to manufacture in India for the domestic market and for exports. Digital India seeks to spur electronics manufacturing to the extent that there would be net zero imports — that is exports will equal imports — by 2020.
- E-KRANTI : This is perhaps the biggest program within Digital India, and focusses on a mobile-first approach. That means integrating public programmes on single portals, and using technology for their implementation and for public grievance system when they don’t work well. Major IT companies such as TCS, Wipro and Infosys are expected to work on projects to make this possible.
- EARLY HARVEST PROGRAMME :
- Wi-Fi in All Universities
- Secure Email would be the primary mode of communication within Government
- Cities with population of over 1 million and tourist centres would be provided with public Wi-Fi hotspots to promote digital cities. etc
Let me highlight some of the major challenges of the Digital India programme.
First and foremost is that the entire programme is designed as a top-down model. There is no idea of how it would be implemented on the ground to be successful. For example, let’s consider six of the nine pillars of the programme directly related to consumers and people at large: broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public Internet access programme, e-kranti or electronic delivery of services, information for all, and IT for jobs.
Broadband highways, now called BharatNet, is supposed to connect up to gram panchayat, but laying fibre optic cables is the least of the challenges here. The biggest challenge is ensuring that each panchayat point of broadband is fired up, functional, used and distributed. Our research work found that more than 67% of the NOFN points are non-functional, even at the pilot stage. Besides, if the broadband highways programme is not implemented well and soon, we may not be able to implement other pillars of the programme, such as the public Internet access programme, e-kranti, information for all, and even IT for jobs. All these are dependent on access infrastructure.
BSP chief Mayawati said the Digital India programme is ineffective until Prime Minister Narendra Modi fulfills his pre-poll promise of supplying electricity to every home.
“The Narendra Modi government should first use its energy and resources to fulfil its poll promise of 24×7 power supply,” she said, adding “wrong policies and unrealistic programmes will not benefit people.”
With the implementation of the Digital India Programme the empowered citizens will have the power to make choices, to save time, lower their costs, add convenience to their days and improve their health. The potential payoffs through this revolution can certainly be measured in numbers connections, devices, subscribers, downloads and so on but the improvement in the quality of life of every Indian is the real change our government wants to bring. This task is enormous, challenges are onerous yet we shall overcome, as India after May 2014 is a different country.
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