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Special Content


"A Digital India is A Possibility Today"

Arun Khurana

Digital India vision is one of the most exciting initiatives the country has embraced to leapfrog us to the 21st century. What was once a visionary notion is now the new normal:Digital India is a strong initiative  by our honourable Prime Minister. The fact remains that even before he took office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi while speaking at an industry gathering spelt out his "dream" of a digital India - a high-speed digital highway, government services accessible on mobile devices, empowerment of farmers through real-time data, cyber security and financial inclusion. Many of these ideas have been translated into reality in the last three years, but the overarching gain according to industry experts is the consensus in the country today that "digital is not a playground of rich kids but an essential component of development. The campaign is to make things convenient and easy for public by increasing connectivity of internet. It is promoted to help public by making things available electronically. This step is a major boost to enhance the technology curve and begins with plan of increasing internet connectivity even to the remote rural places of the country. The campaign was launched on 1st July, 2015 and ever since has progressed a lot in terms of empowerment. The Digital India initiative seeks to lay emphasis on e-governance and transform India into a digitally empowered society.
It has been launched with an aim of transforming the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The Digital India would ensure that Government services are available to citizens electronically.
The 3 visions of Digital India is:
1. Digital Infrastructure as a Utility to Every Citizen:
2.Governance and Services on Demand:
3.Digital Empowerment of Citizens:
The Government of India hopes to achieve growth on multiple fronts with the Digital India Programme. Specifically, the Government aims to target the nine 'Pillars of the Digital India' that they have identified as being: Broadband Highways; Universal Access to Internet; Public Internet Access Programme; e-Governance - Reforming Government through Technology; e-Kranti - Electronic Delivery of Services; Information for All; Electronics Manufacturing; IT for Jobs; and Early Harvest Programmes.
Social sectors such as education, healthcare, banking, etc. are unable to reach out to the citizens due to obstructions and limitations such as middleman, illiteracy, ignorance, poverty, lack of funds, information and investments. These challenges have led to an imbalanced growth in the rural and urban areas with marked differences in the economic and social status of the people in these areas. Digital India project connects the government and the public. Government services will reach the doorstep of the public by the click of a button. This initiative is most useful for those village people who are settled in the remote areas of the country. This project will reduce their time utilization by providing high-speed internet service which will now let the villagers do all the work just by a single click and avoid travelling to urban office ports. The idea is to connect the rural area with urban technology, also to provide e-services to remote villages. Focus is on providing broadband services in all villages of the country, tele-medicine and mobile healthcare services and making governance more participative. The government is trying to set up a National Optical Fibre Network to connect 2, 50,000 gram panchayats in the country to the Internet. 'DigiGaon' scheme is to provide telemedicine, education, and skills through digital technology in rural areas of India. The allocation for the ambitious Bharat Net project is being stepped up to Rs 10,000 crore in 2017-18 and high-speed broadband on optical fibre will be available in over 1.5 lakh gram panchayats with hotspots and access to digital services at low tariffs.
The digital India project will be helpful in providing real-time education and can partly address the challenge of lack of teachers in education system through smart and virtual classrooms. Education to farmers, fishermen can be provided through mobile devices. The high speed network can provide adequate infrastructure for online education platforms like massive open online courses (MOOCs). Mobile and internet banking can improve the financial inclusion and can create win-win situation for all parties in the value-chain by creating an interoperable ecosystem and revenue sharing business models.
It makes health services and literacy more reachable as one can utilise e-hospital services, get online registration, appointment with the doctor, payment of the fee, diagnostic tests/reports online, blood check-ups etc  and enquiring availability of blood online etc.
A very striking motive of Digital India programme is to provide IT jobs, as this programme emphases on digital growth it will equally provide employment in this field to the youth of the generation.
There are many facilities that are provided through the digital India campaign like digital locker for keeping our important documents online, e-education for distant learning through internet, e-health for health checkups and information online, national scholarship portal etc.  DigiLocker facilities help citizens of India to keep their important documents safe in digital mode and provide each individual secure access. The e-sign facility helps in digital signature on any document online using authentication from Aadhar Card. These services make it easy for citizens to live a convenient and hassle free life.
One of the most important promotion by Digital India campaign is encouraging citizens to switch to cashless mode of transactions through internet and mobile banking. By digital infrastructure we mean, creating a space where all the registered citizens will have a digital identity, which will help in getting easy and fast government services. All the government services like managing a bank account, financial management, safe and secure cyberspace, education, distance learning etc. will  be made much easier to use.
India's Education Sector is also slowly moving towards a Digital Future. The typical Indian classroom was once characterized by students sitting through hour-long teacher monologues. Now, technology is making life easier for both students and educators. Schools are increasingly adopting digital teaching solutions. Smartclass is essentially a digital content library of curriculum-mapped, multimedia-rich, 3D content. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can have a huge impact on our education system." ICT can result in increasing the reach of education and in keeping the costs low. "With increasing penetration of mobile phones and Internet kiosks, the potential of education is indeed immense". Emphasis is being laid on mobile learning, online tutoring, digital learning resources and digital content management.
India as a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Declaration has pro- actively initiated Digital India programme with focus on providing digital infrastructure as a core utility, digital services on demand and digital empowerment to all citizens. All of Digital India initiatives are making use of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) that take advantage of mobile, social media, Cloud and data analytics in delivering citizen-centric, business-centric and government-centric services through mission-mode projects. India is at the cusp of a digital revolution for which Digital India is the vehicle.  Pioneering Digital India efforts, such as Aadhaar - universal digital identity, Jan Dhan Yojana - financial inclusion to every household, targeted public distribution system food security to all eligible families, especially those below poverty line, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to all authenticated beneficiaries, Digital Sakasharta Abhiyan (DISHA) - digital literacy in every household, Government eMarketplace (GeM) enabling product sellers and service providers to directly transact with government procurement agencies etc., are transforming India into a digitally empowered society & knowledge economy. JAM i.e. Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile are Digital Benefit Transfer enablers and as on date more than 22 crore Jan Dhan Account holders are there.
Sustainable Development Goals are comprehensive and focus on five Ps - people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. Agenda 2030 is a set of 17 specific goals - ranging from poverty elimination, ending hunger and malnutrition, health and well-being, education, gender equality, water and sanitation, energy, growth, resilient infrastructure, inequality reduction, sustainable production and consumption, urbanisation and habitat, climate change, life on land, life below water, peace and justice, and global partnerships - to be achieved by 2030.
There are many schemes launched by the Government of india for India to be digitalized. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan is the scheme to make six crore persons in rural areas, digitally literate, reaching to around 40% of rural households by covering one member from every eligible household by 31st March, 2019. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) is a project launched under Digital India. Massive Open Online Courses are gaining popularity in India. With the advent of technology, e-learning is rapidly gaining importance and momentum. Such is the popularity of MOOCs that last year Prime Minister Modi launched 'SWAYAM', a MOOC platform in India. MyGov.in, is a platform for citizen engagement in governance.
Digital Agriculture can be defined as ICT and data ecosystems to support the development and delivery of timely, targeted (localised) information and services to make farming profitable and sustainable (socially, economically and environmentally) while delivering safe, nutritious and affordable food for all. Rural connectivity will be the key to providing low cost data and access to information. It would empower rural youth to realise their full potential, farmers to increase their profitability by accessing equitable markets and rural businesses to offer value added services. Digital platforms can help farmers in know-how (crop choice, seed variety), context (weather, plant protection, cultivation best practices) and market information (market prices, market demand, logistics).
The Government of India launched the Smart Cities Mission in June 2015. Its objective is to promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of 'Smart' Solutions. A total of Rs.98,000 crore (US$15 billion) has been approved by the Cabinet for development of 100 smart cities and rejuvenation of 500 others. The strategic components of area-based development in the Smart Cities Mission are city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (greenfield development) plus a Pan-city initiative in which Smart Solutions are applied covering larger parts of the city.
On 2nd October 2014, Swachh Bharat Mission was launched throughout length and breadth of the country as a national movement. The campaign aims to achieve the vision of a 'Clean India' by 2nd October 2019. In a bid to involve people actively in the Swachh Bharat campaign, the Ministry of Culture launched the Swachh Bharat app recently, in Delhi.
Companies have a large amount of data and they need to stratiegise it. Big data describes a holistic information management strategy that includes and integrates many new types of data and data management alongside traditional data. Big data has also been defined by the four Vs: Velocity, Volume, Variety and Value. There is an increased requirement for the business analytic as it is a mix of current tools, analytic, programming, administration, IT to make an association develop in the focused markets. Business analytic helps us to increase future bits of knowledge by watching the past data to serve the client better and in a productive way.
One of the most scrupulous usages of the Internet is "Social Media". In order to engage with citizens, share information and deliver services more quickly and effectively, government agencies are increasingly using social media. With a purpose to create awareness and promote various e-Governance schemes and programmes in the country, Digital India social media team was set up in July 2014. In a short time, the social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn) of Digital India have gained a massive following. Online Quizzes, News Updates, Tip of the Day, Did You Know and a host of other interesting activities are a part of the elaborate Digital India content strategy.
Digital India initiatives have made tremendous impact on the digital profile of  the country that includes mobile penetration, internet penetration, coverage of digital identity, digital services and transactions, rural empowerment, digital payments, digital literacy, e-Healthcare, digital agriculture, digital outreach, electronic and system design industries, and e-Commerce, amongst others. Digital India promotes innovation and fosters inclusive growth by taking, e-governance to the grass root level, involving citizens, service providers and governance institutions. The credo "Sabka-Saath, Sabka-Vikas (Participation of All, Growth for All)" can be achieved globally by Digital India, adopting a three-pronged strategy of Analysis (policy, government process re-engineering, multi-purpose platforms and efficient decision support systems), Advocacy (open standards, open data, grievance redressal and Information, Education & Communication (IEC)) and Action (development of capacity  and content, rapid deployment and replication of successful e-governance projects, multi-stakeholder partnerships and international cooperation).
(The author is a Founder/ Director of Social Responsibility Council. e-mail : khurana@arunkhurana.com)
Images: Courtesy Google