Digital India- A Programme to transform India into Digital Empowered Society and Knowledge Economy

September 9th, 2014
 
HIGHLIGHTS

  • Digital India is transformational in nature and is aimed at ensuring that government services are available to citizens electronically. The government has said that it would also bring in public accountability through mandated delivery of government’s services electronically.
  • The program aims to seamlessly integrate departments to provide easy and a single window access to everyone. It also aims at making available government services in real time from online and mobile platforms. The government will set up a program management structure for monitoring implementation of this program.
  • The vision of the program is centered on three key areas: digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen – digital identity, mobile phone and bank account, safe & secure cyber space; governance & services on demand – services available in real time on online and mobile platform, making financial transactions electronic and cashless, & digital empowerment of citizens – all documents and certificates available on cloud.
  • Every individual’s personal record is stored in a virtual central repository or Digital Locker, which can be accessed by government officials anywhere and anytime, through established protocols.
  • About one third of India’s 252 million internet users and one fourth of mobile internet users are in rural areas. But internet penetration in the villages is about 8.6% which when compared to 37.4% in cities, has a long way to go, and this is the statistics Digital India hopes to change.

 
Threats and challenges

  • Infrastructure, security, cyber laws and training are major challenges to the Digital India program. In order to use the mobile phones to help achieve financial inclusion, the government will need to structure the delivery of financial services in a manner that encourages a villager to go for mobile banking.
  • The IT infrastructure of our country is vulnerable to security attack either through cyber space or through internal sabotage. While organizations like Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) is trying to cope with the ever evolving cyber threats, India is still nowhere in establishing secure and impenetrable networks, as seen in various attacks on our critical sites of various government establishments, over the years.
  • Government sites are especially vulnerable. Then there is the real possibility of internal sabotage that can result in stealing or damaging of data, at any given point.

 
Cyber Laws

  • When the government stores personal data of the citizens, the government becomes its custodian. This means that the government is responsible for securing the data and also preventing its misuse. The question of how the government is going to prevent litigation in cases of data misuse becomes important since the government becomes a party to the data breach in case any individual accesses the data of any other individual and uses it against them.
  • The formation of cyber laws becomes of paramount importance if India hopes to fully digitize itself.
  • Not only that, The Digital India program will have to simultaneously launch a training program to ensure all government officials understand the data that is available, its protocols of access and protocols of security, and also the legal ramifications of data breach.

 
Benefits of Digital India

  • The government hopes the Rs 1.13-lakh crore initiative that seeks to transform India into a connected economy to also attract investment in electronics manufacturing, create millions of jobs and support trade.
  • A mobile handset can be used as a tool for empowerment. There is a need to incentivize its usage in order to promote the social and the economic objectives of the government.
  • In order to use the mobile phone to help achieve financial inclusion, the government will need to structure the delivery of financial services in a manner that encourages a villager to go for mobile banking.
  • Digital India promises to transform India into a connected knowledge economy offering world-class services at the click of a mouse and will be implemented in a phased manner, according to information released by the government last week.

 
Recommendations

  • Allow all existing universities or institutions to expand across India with study centers, off-campus learning centers.
  • Establish online programs and flexible blended learning models at universities.
  • Provide free Wi-Fi and low cost broadband across the country as well as low cost computer tablets to the youth.
  • Set up blended/hybrid classrooms, learning hubs in universities and in other existing infrastructures.
  • Leverage high quality free MOOCs courses offered online by the best of universities abroad.
  • Deliver continuous teacher training through the online mode.
  • Improve the rural conditions by creating digital awareness in remotes areas.
  • Provide health and education facilities online.
  • Encourage digitization.
  • Develop APPS like the safety app- RAKSHA, Himmat etc.

 
 

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