Monday, 5 October 2015

Digital India - What, Why and How

In this era of 21st century, everyone in this world is so fond of Gadgets and Technology. All the information be it news, social, tech and many other things can be known within a fraction of a second. Thanks to Internet for making it successful.

In the past week we have seen our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi visiting the USA and meeting all the Tech Giants in Silicon Valley. Couple of months back on the 1st of July, Digital India Initiative by Government of India was inaugurated by our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.

WHAT IS DIGITAL INDIA?

Digital India is an initiative of the Government of India to ensure that government services are made available to citizens electronically by improving online infrastructure and by increasing internet connectivity. The initiative includes plans to connect rural areas with high-speed internet networks. [1]

Digital India has three core components. 
  • The creation of digital infrastructure
  • Delivering services digitally
  • Digital literacy
The program is projected at Rs 1,13,000 crore which will prepare the country for knowledge-based transformation. The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (deitY) anticipates that this program will have a huge impact on the Ministry of Communication and IT.



PILLARS OF DIGITAL INDIA

There are nine pillars of Digital India Programme. [2]
  1. Broadband Highways : Government aims to lay national optical fibre network in all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats. Broadband for the rural will be laid by December 2016 and broadband for all urban will mandate communication infrastructure in new urban development and buildings. By March 2017, the government aims to provide nationwide information infrastructure.
  2. Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity : The government is taking steps to ensure that by 2018 all villages are covered through mobile connectivity. The aim is to increase network penetration and cover gaps in all 44,000 villages
  3. Public Internet Access Programme : The government aims to provide internet services to 2.5 lakh villages which comprises of one in every panchayat by March 2017 and 1.5 lakh post offices in the next two years. These post offices will become Multi-Service centres for the people.
  4. e-Governance – Reforming Government through Technology : The government aims to improve processes and delivery of services through e-Governance with UIDAI, payment gateway, EDI and mobile platforms. School certificates, voter ID cards will be provided online. This aims for a faster examination of data.
  5. eKranti - Electronic delivery of services : This service aims to deliver electronic services to people which deals with health, education, farmers, justice, security and financial inclusion.
  6. Information for All : Hosting data online and engaging social media platforms for governance is the aim of the government. Information is also easily available for the citizens. MyGov.in is a website launched by the government for a 2-way communication between citizens and the government. People can send in their suggestions and comment on various issues raised by the government, like net neutrality.
  7. Electronics Manufacturing : The government is focusing on zero imports of electronics. In order to achieve this, the government aims to put up smart energy meters, micro ATMs, mobile, consumer and medical electronics.
  8. IT for Jobs : The government aims to train around 1 crore students from small towns and villages for IT sector by 2020. Setting up of BPO sectors in North eastern states is also part of the agenda.
  9. Early Harvest Programmes : Government plans to set up Wi-fi facilities in all universities across the country. Email will be made the primary mode of communication. Aadhar Enabled Biometric Attendance System will be deployed in all central government offices where recording of attendance will be made online.
PILLARS OF DIGITAL INDIA
PILLARS OF DIGITAL INDIA
DIGITAL INDIA vs. BASICS 

Now the question is how will this benefit the poorer section of our society? I have heard people questioning how will this overcome our ROTI, KAPDA aur MAKAN scarcity? What about the farmers and the ones living under poverty? Will they be served E-ROTI?

A classic poor man’s syndrome or rich man's rebuke. When India sent 1st satellite to orbit the whole world laughed at us and said focus on "roti, kapada aur makan". But, now that satellites forecast weather, it benefits the poor farmer. When India sent Mangalyaan the whole world laughed at us and said focus on "roti, kapada aur makan", today India is the leading country in space technology. Today India is connected through cell phones and we are all much better off for that. Digital India will open up new horizons and opportunities for us all.

DIGITAL INDIA – A path to Modernization 

As Modi said, "Minimum government and maximum governance can be a success through Digital India. E-governance is easy governance and economic governance. We have to empower citizens." "E-governance will soon become m-governance, that is mobile governance,"

Let us take an example of our LPG Cylinder distribution system now. These days you need to pay a fix amount while booking the cylinder and once the cylinder is delivered, the cost of the cylinder is deducted and the remaining amount is directly transferred to your account. This way there is no third party involved or there is no man in the middle attack. So, the level of corruption here decreased exponentially.

Similarly, we can take the case of the farmer too. If everything is digitized, the farmer need not run door to door, meet different people or brokers. The farmer just needs to fulfil the requirement through E-Governance portals or visit the nearest Digital office (if that exist). This way it will be just the farmer approaching the government with his/her problem and the government taking care of it. It will be a one stop for all the problems.

The government has made Digital Locker available for all the citizens of India. Digital Locker facility will help citizens to digitally store their important documents like PAN card, passport, mark sheets and degree certificates. Digital Locker will provide secure access to Government issued documents. It uses authenticity services provided by Aadhaar. It is aimed at eliminating the use of physical documents and enables sharing of verified electronic documents across government agencies.

Digital Locker provides a dedicated personal storage space in the cloud to citizens, linked to citizens Aadhaar number. Digital Locker will reduce the administrative overhead of government departments and agencies created due to paper work. It will also make it easy for the residents to receive services by saving time and effort as their documents will now be available anytime, anywhere and can be shared electronically.

To sign-up for your Digital Locker, one need your Aadhaar number and a Mobile number that is linked to that Aadhaar Number [1]. So far there are 978448 users who have signed up for Digital Locker and there are 920522 documents in it [3].

RESURGENT INDIA

On the other side, we saw our prime minister visiting Silicon Valley couple of days back and meeting almost every single techno giants from different companies. He discussed on different approach of Digital India. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella said that his company will set up low cost broadband technology services to 5 lakh villages across the country.

Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, said that India will play a big part in driving technology forward in future which will improve people's lives in India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed keen interest and wanted to use Tesla Motors' power wall technology which will store electricity in a battery for a long term.

Now Google will soon help India set up base for free Wi-Fi at 500 railway stations. Similarly, there were many more promises that were made by different CEO’s and CFO’s.

The question here is, why do we need Google to do that for us, don't we have engineers in the country that could rig up a nifty public WiFi set-up?

[1] [2] [3]

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