Digital India Programme
As the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs Smt Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget 2019-20, making it clear that Modi Government is rigorously following its dream of Digital India! With an aim to make digitize every sector of the economy, India is heading towards creating an indigenous digital ecosystem for rural and urban economies alike.
But, what’s Digital India?
Digital India was launched on July 1, 2015, by the Indian Prime Minister Sh Narendra Modi. It is an initiative that can be seen as both as an enabler and beneficiary of key schemes run by Government of India such E-Kranti, Standup India, Dedicated Freight Corridors, Industrial Corridors, Bharatmala, Make in India, BharatNet, Sagarmala, UDAN-RCS and many more. The plan aims to empower Indian citizens digitally by providing a robust online infrastructure irrespective of the geographical boundaries and improving digital literacy in rural areas. Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) is in charge of implementing BhartNet project and is the primary custodian of the Digital India project.
Digital India campaign comprises:
- The development of state-of-the-art digital infrastructure: making digitization a reality for every citizen and a right
- Delivering government services digitally: maximum governance through digital means
- Facilitating universal digital literacy: connecting rural and tribal areas and offering digital infrastructure as a utility
The program encompasses a 360-degree approach for growth in electric products, indigenous manufacturing, job opportunities, and services.
Digital Services under Digital India Concept
India is a gold mine when it comes to digital opportunities. Over 40 percent of people use the internet and more than 446 million have smartphones. The country has seen a staggering growth of 51 percent in e-commerce last year. The Digital India or DI initiative facilitates the digital growth in India by offering several digital services such as:
National e-Governance Plan
This is a subset of Digital India concept that brings all the front-end government services to the fore and encourages a digital infrastructure. The plan has a three-core approach namely- Discuss, Do and Disseminate.
UMANG or Unified Mobile Application for New-Age Governance
UMANG is an all-in-one single unified secure, multi-service, multi-channel, and platform agnostic app. The users can access over 1,200 central and state government services such as DigiLocker, Bharat Bill Payment, EPFO, PAN, CBSE, Income Tax and AADHAR in regional languages. The users can also pay for railway tickets, school fees, and other bills. The app also brings police clearance, passport, and other utility services from other private companies onboard.
The framework uses AADHAR authentication to let users sign a document digitally.
Swachh Bharat Mission Mobile App or SBM
The app is an integral part of Swachh Bharat Yogna led by the Prime Minister. The users can log in their work, issues and queries pertaining to cleanliness in their surroundings.
The e-Hospital app lets the users pay fees for the treatment, book appointment, track the availability of blood and monitor their diagnostic report.
Digital attendance app does away with registers, files and old-world bureaucracy and manages the attendance of all government employees on a real-life basis.
Black money eradication
The DI initiative of Government of India also helps in curbing black money. It encompasses the use of 11 technologies that nab tax evaders and create opportunities for economically weaker sections.
Digital Literacy Mission
The main objective of Digital India policy is to educated people about digital literacy and start using it a utility, not a privilege. The policy aims to connect over 550-agricultural market using digital infrastructure.
The facility of digital locker ensures the safety of citizens’ government-issued documents such as passport, mark sheets, PAN card, birth certificates and so on. Now, citizens don’t have to carry the physical proof everywhere and access their important documents online anywhere, anytime!
Under the umbrella of Digital India policy, the Indian government aims to create more than 30,000 seats of BPO across India with their offices in gram panchayats. This will help many rural segments to embark upon the tech wagon.
Gone are the days when the English language ruled the tech segment. Thanks to Digital India, everybody can be online and can create their e-mail in their vernacular language. An Indian company, Data Xgen has allowed linguistic-agnostic e-mail service under DATAMAIL, which lets the users create e-mail IDs in 8-Indian languages, 3-foreign languages namely Arabic, Chinese and Russian except English.
Under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan, a yearly budget of Rs. 2,351.38 crore is set aside for the digital literacy of 6-crore rural households, reaching around and making a difference in approximate 40 percent of the rural population.
Ongoing awareness and appreciation
The idea of Digital India is about continuous and constant efforts to aware people about the benefits of digitization. This is why under this campaign, Annual Digital India Summit and Award are held on a yearly basis where people, start-ups and villages are recognized and applauded for their digital achievements.
Digital India across the world
The Digital India campaign puts the digital endeavors and dreams of India on track. Countries like the U.S., the U.K, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea have backed the movement. The campaign has also found patrons in the top CEOs and investors from India and abroad who have committed to invest more than the US $3.2 trillion to speed up the great Indian dream of digitizing all! Leaders from Silicon Valley, San Jose, and California have met the PM and ensured their support for the advancement of his vision. Google and Facebook have started free WiFi hotspots in rural areas and at the railway stations in India. Microsoft has provided broadband connectivity in more than 5,000 villages in India. The software giant has also established Indian data centers and cloud hubs in India! Similarly, Qualcomm has invested more than US $150 million in ‘Make in India’ startups. The tech giant Oracle also has committed to invest in the ambitious Smart City projects.
The Digital India Impact
Panchkula in district Haryana was awarded at Digital India’s first Annual Award Summit for its top performance under the Digital India initiative. India also saw a 40 per cent growth in its Internet subscriber, touching yet another milestone thanks to the campaign.
Union Budget 2019 Highlights for Digital India
- Under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan, the campaign would remain focused on education over 2- crore rural Indians
- Offering internet connectivity to the far-flung rural segments and local bodies in every panchayat to bridge the gap between rural-urban areas
- Appropriating the Universal Obligation Fund under a PPP arrangement for Bharat Net
- Digital repository to preserve and promote cultural heritage
- To curb black money, 2 percent of TDS on cash withdrawal of amount exceeding Rs. 1 Crore yearly will be levied
- Business establishments with an annual turnover of more than Rs. 50 crore are obligated to offer low-cost digital payment options. Both customers and merchants shall bear Merchant Discount Rates
Digital India Concept is more than just having a smartphone in hand or access to cheap internet. Its objective is to instil industry-relevant and job-ready skill in people from all walks of life while ensuring that we prosper as a country too!