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Lok Sabha TV Insights: Transformation by Digital India & A Detailed Article on Digital India Program

Lok Sabha T V Insights– Transformation by Digital India


Prime Minister started campaign of Digital India Week yesterday to attract various stakeholders to ensure the success of initiative. This ambitious initiative aims to transform India to a true ‘Knowledge Economy’, where not only government services are provided through ICT, but all aspects of life, be it business, agriculture or education are facilitated likewise. India, given its huge human resources in IT sector is well suited to achieve such change.

It will have multiplier effect of economy of the country. In one go this will ensure transparent and accountable government, ease of business, hassle free procedures, higher living standard of masses and reduce in wastages in public spending. Positive impacts of digitization are quite apparent in current E-ticketing system of IRCTC, E- filling of income tax returns, E- Passport services, Digitization of land records among many examples. In all these initiatives power of middle man and discretion of lower level bureaucracy has decreased significantly.

Unlike predecessor National E-Governance Plan (NEGP), Digital India initiative looks much beyond public service delivery system. It places equal stress on digital infrastructure, governance and service delivery and digital empowerment of citizens. Without such comprehensive plan NEGP had very little relevance in rural and backward areas.

As always implementation is the key, but this program is starved of Infrastructure. There are two different options for delivery, one is through spectrum wavelength i.e. through mobile data and other is through landline broadband for which ‘National Optical Fiber Network’ is being laid. In case of former efficient delivery of service demands national wide roll out of 4G and plus services and in case of latter, current speed of work is dismal at 500 km/month while it should be 30000 km/ month.

Another issue is legal framework of the country. Current legal framework seems obsolete as Cyber Security law is 15 years old and is incapable of dealing with modern technicalities and crimes. Similarly, IT act of 2000 doesn’t even cover many types of crime. In absence of holistic legal framework, this initiative can get marred under obstructive litigation. National Cyber security policy was framed in 2013, but it is now a dead letter. However, in telecom sector both regulatory (TRAI) and appellate body are in place which can well take care of infrastructural part of the plan.

To ensure success, it is essential that masses participate in this initiative. Relevant applications with suitable content in local languages will have to be developed to educate diverse people of the country. So far awareness about technology is quite low in country side. This results in exclusion of poor from the services.

This initiative also aims hardware development in India and tries to draw synergies from ‘Make in India’ initiative. Currently China holds about 40% share in electronics market. Wages and other costs in China are expected to inflate significantly in coming years and this provides India an opportunity to dislodge China from top position. For this to happen, along with massive skill development, India will have to correct its ‘inverted duty structure’. India’s imposes heavy excise duty on domestic manufacturing of various electronic components, whereas China provides heavy subsidies or low taxes. This along with low import duty mandated by WTO agreement makes imports cheaper than domestic manufacturing. This is called inverted duty structure and it has retarded Indian industry.

Having said this, data security is of utmost importance. Humungous amount of private and sensitive government data will flow on digital highways. Any leakage or attack on such data can jeopardize national security and disrupt the lifeline. Apart from security, systems should be put in place to ensure that individual privacy is respected. There is a widespread suspicion throughout the world over digitization. It is felt that governments and big business houses are in position to mi-utilize ‘Big Data’ technique for their private ends. These suspicions will have to be properly addressed before spending huge funds on the program. Russian laws doesn’t allow domestic data to be stored beyond its boundaries, this should be looked into by India.



What is Digital India?

Digital India is a Programme to prepare India for a knowledge future. The focus is on being transformative – to realize IT + IT = IT. The focus is on making technology central to enabling change. It is an Umbrella Programme – covering many departments. It weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision so that each of them is seen as part of a larger goal.

Each individual element stands on its own. But is also part of the larger picture. It is coordinated by DeitY , implemented by the entire government. The weaving together makes the Mission transformative in totality

The Programme: Pulls together many existing schemes. These schemes will be restructured and re-focused. They will be implemented in a synchronized manner. Many elements are only process improvements with minimal cost. The common branding of programmes as Digital India highlights their transformative impact.

Vision of Digital India

Centered on 3 Key Areas

• Digital Infrastructure as a Utility to Every Citizen

Governance & Services on Demand

• Digital Empowerment of Citizens

Vision Area 1: Infrastructure as a Utility to Every Citizen

• High speed internet as a core utility

• Cradle to grave digital identity -unique, lifelong, online, authenticable

• Mobile phone & Bank account enabling participation in digital & financial space

• Easy access to a Common Service Centre

• Shareable private space on a public cloud

• Safe and secure Cyber-space

Vision Area 2

• Seamlessly integrated across departments or jurisdictions

• Services available in real time from online &mobile platform

• All citizen entitlements to be available on the cloud

• Services digitally transformed for improving Ease of Doing Business

• Making financial transactions electronic & cashless

• Leveraging GIS for decision support systems & development

Vision Area 3

• Universal Digital Literacy

• Universally accessible digital resources

• All documents/ certificates to be available on cloud

• Availability of digital resources / services in Indian languages

• Collaborative digital platforms for participative governance

• Portability of all entitlements through cloud


Nine Pillars of Digital India

  1. Broadband Highways

Broadband for All Rural

• Coverage: 250,000 GP

• Timeline: December 2016

• CAPEX: Rs 32,000 Cr

• Nodal Dept: DoT

1yr: 50,000 GP

2yr: 100,000 GP

3yr: 100,000 GP

Broadband for all Urban

• Virtual Network Operators for service delivery.

• Mandate communication infrastructure in new urban development and buildings.

Needs changes in rules to facilitate

National Information Infrastructure

• Coverage: Nationwide

• Timeline: March 2017

• Cost: Rs 15,686 Cr

• Nodal Dept: DeitY

Integration of SWAN, NKN, NOFN. To be implemented in 2 years

  1. Universal Access to Phones

    • Coverage: Remaining uncovered villages (~42,300 villages)

    • Timeline: FY 2014-18

    • Cost: Rs 16,000 Cr

    • Nodal Dept: DoT

    Ongoing Programme Increased network penetration & coverage of gaps


  2. Public Internet Access Programme – National Rural Internet Mission

CSCs – made viable, multifunctional end-points for service delivery

• Coverage: 2,50,000 villages (now 130,000)

• Timeline: 3 Years – March 2017

• Cost: Rs 4750 Cr

• Nodal Agency: DeitY

Ongoing Programme Reach of Govt. services to all GPs

Post Offices to become Multi-Service Centres

• Coverage: 1,50,000 Post Offices

• Timeline: 2 Years

• Nodal Agency: D/o Posts

This is long term vision of POs

  1. E-Governance – Reforming government through Technology

Government Business Process Re-engineering using IT to improve transactions

• Form Simplification, reduction

• Online applications and tracking, Interface between departments

• Use of online repositories e.g. school certificates, voter ID cards, etc.

• Integration of services and platforms – UIDAI, Payment Gateway, Mobile Platform, EDI

Electronic Databases – all databases and information to be electronic, not manual

Workflow automation inside government

Public Grievance Redressal – using IT to automate, respond, analyze data to identify and resolve persistent problems – largely process improvements

To be implemented across government – critical for transformation.

  1. eKranti –Electronic delivery of services

Technology for Education – e-Education

• All Schools connected with broadband

• Free Wi-Fi in all schools (250,000)

• Digital Literacy program

• MOOCs – develop pilot Massive Online Open Courses

Technology for Health – e-Healthcare

• Online medical consultation

• Online medical records

• Online medicine supply

• Pan-India exchange for patient information

• Pilots – 2015; Full coverage in 3 years

Technology for Planning

• GIS based decision making

• National GIS Mission Mode Project

Technology for Farmers

• Real time price information

• Online ordering of inputs

• Online cash, loan, relief payment with mobile


Technology for Security

• Mobile Emergency Services

Technology for Financial Inclusion

• Mobile Banking

• Micro-ATM program

• CSCs/ Post Offices

Technology for Justice

• E-Courts, e-Police, e- Jails, e-Prosecution

Technology for Security

• National Cyber Security Co-ordination Center

Ongoing Programme (NeGP) – will be revamped to cover these elements

  1. Information for All


  2. Online Hosting of Information & documents
  3. Citizens have open, easy access to information
  4. Open data platform
  5. Government pro-actively engages through social media and web based platforms to inform citizens
  • 2-way communication between citizens and government
  1. Online messaging to citizens on special occasions/programs
  2. Largely utilise existing infrastructure – limited additional resources needed

7. Electronics Manufacturing – Target NET ZERO Imports

  • Target NET ZERO Imports is a striking demonstration of intent
  • Ambitious goal which requires coordinated action on many fronts
  • Taxation, Incentives
  • Economies of Scale, Eliminate cost disadvantages
  • Focused areas – Big Ticket Items – FABS, Fab-less design, Set top boxes, VSATs, Mobiles, Consumer & Medical Electronics, Smart Energy meters, Smart cards, micro-ATMs
  • Incubators, clusters
  • Skill development
  • Government procurement
  • There are many ongoing programs which will be fine-tuned.
  • Existing Structures inadequate to handle this goal. Need strengthening.

8. IT for Jobs

Train people in smaller towns & villages for IT sector jobs –

• Coverage: 1 Crore students

• Timeline: 5 years

• Cost: Rs 200 Cr for weaker sections

• Nodal Agency: DeitY

New Scheme IT ready workforce


• Scope: Setting up of BPO per NE State

• Coverage: NE States

• Nodal Agency: DeitY

ICT enabled growth in NE

Train Service Delivery Agents to run viable businesses delivering IT services

• Coverage: 3,00,000

• Timeline: 2 Years

• Nodal Agency: DeitY

Ongoing Skilled VLEs and Viable CSCs

Telecom service providers to train rural workforce to cater to their own needs

• Coverage: 5,00,000

• Timeline: 5 Years

• Nodal Agency: DoT

Telecom ready workforce

IT platform for messages

• Coverage: Elected representatives, All Govt employees

• 1.36 Cr mobiles and 22 Lakh emails

• Mass Messaging Application developed

Targeted Mass messaging since July 14

Government Greetings to be e-Greetings

• Basket of e-Greetings templates available

• Crowd sourcing of e-Greetings thru MyGov

• E-Greetings Portal ready by 14 August 2014

1st e-Greeting from PM on 15th Aug 2014

Biometric attendance

• Coverage: All Central Govt. Offices in Delhi

• Operational in DeitY & Initiated in Urban Development

• On-boarding started in other depts

• Procurement of devices – tender issued

To be completed by Oct 2014

Wi-Fi in All Universities

• Scope: All universities on NKN

• 400 additional Universities

• Cost: Rs 790 Cr

Approval – Oct 2014 Implementation done by Dec 2015


Secure email within government

• Phase I upgradation for 10 Lakh employees done

• Phase II for 50 Lakh employees by March 2015

• Cost: Rs 98 Cr

Email to be primary mode of communication


Standardize government E-mail design

• Standardized templates under preparation

To be ready by October 2014

9. Early harvest Programmes

Public Wi-Fi hotspots

• Coverage: Cities with pop > 1 Mill., tourist centres

• Nodal Agency: DoT / MoUD

Digital Cities Completed by Dec 2015


School Books to be eBooks

Nodal Agency: MHRD/ DeitY

Completed by Mar 2015

SMS based weather information, disaster alerts

• DeitY’s Mobile Seva Platform ready

• Nodal Agency: MoES (IMD) / MHA (NDMA)

In place by Dec 2014

National Portal for Lost & Found children

• Nodal Agency: DeitY/ DoWCD

In place by Oct 2014


Institutional mechanism

The program management structure for Digital India consists of a Monitoring Committee on Digital India headed by Prime Minister, a Digital India Advisory chaired by the Minister of Communication and IT and an Apex committee chaired by Cabinet Secretary.

The central Minster/department and state government concerned would have the overall responsibility for implementation of various Mission and other projects under the Digital India program.