Realising ‘Digital India’ through its different Pillars
27th Jan, 2021
- Digital India is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The vision areas under this programme, as delineated by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, include 'Digital Infrastructure as a Core Utility to Every Citizen', 'Governance and Service on Demand' and 'Digital Empowerment of Citizens'.
- Under this programme, the government aims to provide high speed internet connectivity across the length and breadth of the country. In addition, it also aims to establish and leverage the unique identity (Aadhar) as a mode to ensure digital identity, financial inclusion, and easy access to the Common Services Centres (CSCs).
- The Digital India Progamme took one step ahead and aspired to provide seamlessly integrated services across departments or jurisdictions by adopting a single window framework. It also promotes the use of Open source and Open API, to ensure interoperability of all e-governance applications and provide access to data and services for promoting participation of citizens. The Unified Payments Interface could be considered a pathbreaking development, which is an example of open-source application and proved to be a pivotal step for India towards becoming cashless.
Pillars of Digital India
- Broadband Highways
- This pillar has three components including Broadband for rural, Broadband for urban and National Information Infrastructure.
- Over 2,00,000 village panchayats are being brought under the ambit of the National Optical Fibre Network under the Broadband for Rural project.
- Under the Broadband for Urban project, the Ministry aims to utilise Virtual Network Operators for service delivery and communication infrastructure.
- The National Information Infrastructure aims to integrate India's Network and cloud infrastructure to facilitate high speed connectivity as well as cloud platform for different government entities.
- Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity
- Under this pillar, the Ministry aims to connect over 50,000 villages which do not have mobile coverage, with an aim to bridge the digital divide.
- Department of Telecom has been assigned as the Nodal Agency for this project.
3.Public Internet Access Programme
- It aims to establish the infrastructure mechanisms for enabling access to public internet for the common people.
- The Public Internet Access Programme focused mainly two components including CSCs and transforming Post Offices as multi-service centres.
- Under the Digital India programme, the Ministry under the CSC 2.0 project aims to establish a self-sustaining network of 2.5 lakh CSC centres at gram panchayat level.
- Around 150,000 post offices are proposed to be converted into multi service centres and this project is being driven by the Department of Posts.
- E-Governance – Reforming government through Technology
- Under this pillar, the government has different focus areas including form simplification and form reduction, online applications and tracking, online repositories and integration of services and platforms.
- The Digital India programme, under this pillar, has also established the Traditional Development of Indian Languages Programme, to facilitate human-machine interactions in Indian languages.
- E-Kranti, Electronic delivery of Services
- Under this pillar, the Digital India programme has identified 44 mission mode programs which have been grouped under Central, State and Integrated projects.
- The major focus areas include banking, income tax, transport, commercial taxes, financial inclusion andso on.
- Information for All
- This pillar aims to ensure transparency and availability of reliable data generated by the line ministries for use, reuse and redistribution for the people of India.
- TheMygov platform is a significant step towards ensuring governance and promoting government-citizen interactions.
- Electronic Manufacturing
- Due to the high capital and operational expenditure, electronics manufacturing in India has not taken off. The Ministry has been trying to change this scenario by bringing policy interventions to draw global interest for electronics manufacturing in India.
- The major focus areas under this pillar include FABS, Fab-Iess design, Set top boxes, VSATs, Mobiles, Consumer and Medical Electronics, Smart Energy meters, Smart cards and micro-ATMs.
- The recent policies including Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors (SPECS), Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI)for Large Scale Electronics Manufacturing and the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M - SIPS) have been monumental in strengthening the electronics in India.
- IT for Jobs
- This pillar focuses on skill development of the Indian youth in rural and urban areas for making them skilled for the IT/ITeS sector.
- The North East BPO Scheme has been established to bring the focus of the BPO industry to the Tier-1 cities to the Northeastern states.
- Early Harvest Programmes
- The major projects under this pillar include IT platform for mass messaging, crowd Sourcing of eGreetings, biometric attendance in the government offices, WI-FI in all universities, secure email within government, standardise government mail design, public Wi-Fi hotspots, Schools books to be eBooks, SMS based weather information/ disaster alerts and national portal for lost and found children
- The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has been the nodal agency for several projects, along with the Department of Telecommunications to ensure time-bound implementation of different projects under aforementioned pillars.
- The existing schemes are expected to be restructured, revamped and re-focused, to confirm alignment to the objectives of the Digital India Programme.
- Technical Challenges
- Integration and alignment of different networks, interfaces/ platforms across different states.
- With a huge chunk of state and central government functioning on legacy systems, interoperability has been a major concern.
- Digital illiteracy has prevented the effective utilisation of the projects.
- Digital infrastructure would be more exposed to privacy and security threats.
- Organisational Challenges
- Lack of highly skilled individuals
- Huge population
- Presence of different languages
- Distributed control of subject between the state and the center
- Economic Challenges
- Limited project funding
- Scale of the Digital India programme warrants huge budget outlay.
- COVID-19 has posed issue as it has disrupted the multitude of ongoing projects proving to be a huge setback for the entire programme.
- Improving the Regulatory Framework
- Effective Implementation of Projects
- Optimisation of Resources
- Bridging the Digital Divide
- Driving Inclusive Participation in Projects