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. This programme has been envisaged by Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and will impact ministry of communications & IT, ministry of rural development, ministry of human resource development, ministry of health and others. This programme will also benefit all states and union territories. The existing/ ongoing e-Governance initiatives would be revamped to align them with the principles of Digital India.
Visions of Digital India
Digital Infrastructure as a Core Utility to Every Citizen
A well connected nation is a prerequisite to a well served nation. Once the remotest of the Indian villagers are digitally connected through broadband and high speed internet, then delivery of electronic government services to every citizen, targeted social benefits, and financial inclusion can be achieved in reality. One of the key areas on which the vision of Digital India is centred is “digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen”. A key component under this vision is high speed internet as a core utility to facilitate online delivery of various services. It is planned to set up enabling infrastructure for digital identity, financial inclusion and ensure easy availability of common services centres. It is also proposed to provide citizens with “digital lockers” which would be sharable private spaces on a public cloud, and where documents issued by Government departments and agencies could be stored for easy online access. It is also planned to ensure that the cyberspace is made safe and secure.
Governance & Services on Demand
Over the years, a large number of initiatives have been undertaken by various State Governments and Central Ministries to usher in an era of e-governance. Sustained efforts have been made at multiple levels to improve the delivery of public services and simplify the process of accessing them. E-governance in India has steadily evolved from computerization of Government Departments to initiatives that encapsulate the finer points of Governance, such as citizen centricity, service orientation and transparency. The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was approved in 2006 to take a holistic view of e-governance initiatives across the country, integrating them into a collective vision. Around this idea, a massive countrywide infrastructure reaching down to the remotest of villages is being developed, and large-scale digitization of records is taking place to enable easy and reliable access over the internet. The ultimate objective was to make all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man”. Six elements are crucial for ensuring that governance and services are made available on demand to all citizens and other stakeholders in the country.
Digital Empowerment of Citizens
Digital connectivity is a great leveller. Cutting across demographic and socio-economic segments, Indians are increasingly connecting and communicating with each other through mobile phones and computers riding on digital networks. The Digital India programme itself promises to transform India into a digitally empowered society by focusing on digital literacy, digital resources, and collaborative digital platforms. This also places emphasis on universal digital literacy and availability of digital resources/services in Indian languages.
Pillers and implementation of digital India
Digital India is an umbrella programme that covers multiple Government Ministries and Departments. It weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision so that each of them can be implemented as part of a larger goal. Each individual element stands on its own, but is also part of the larger picture. Digital India is to be implemented by the entire Government with overall coordination being done by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY). Nine important pillers of digital India are as follows:
- Broadband Highways
- Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity
- Public Internet Access Programme
- Electronics Manufacturing
- Early Harvest Programmes
- e-Governance – Reforming Government through Technology
- eKranti – Electronic delivery of services
- Information for All
- IT for Jobs
All the initiatives, including establishing and expanding core ICT infrastructure, delivery of services …etc under the Digital India programme have definitive completion time targets. Majority of the initiatives are planned to be realized within the next three years. The initiatives planned for early completion (“Early Harvest Programmes”) and citizen communication initiatives (“Information for All”) have already started going live and are being completed. The Digital India programme aims at pulling together many existing schemes.
These schemes will be restructured, revamped and re-focused and will be implemented in a synchronized manner. Many elements are only process improvements with minimal cost implications. The common branding of programmes as Digital India highlights their transformative impact. While implementing this programme, there would be wider consultations across government, industry, civil society, and citizens to discuss various issues to arrive at innovative solutions for achieving the desired outcomes of Digital India.