AIR spotlight summary on “Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan”.
- The union cabinet has approved Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) to make 6 crore rural household digitally literate. According to Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) survey, if mobile penetration increases by 10% then the GDP would increase by 1.2%. If broadband connection increases by 10% then the increase in the GDP would by be 2.7%. If all the government services are provided through mobile phones then the GDP would increase by 3.2%.
- So this is a very ambitious scheme announced by the government but what needs to be done is the infrastructure has to be greatly improved to bring optical fibre to each Gram panchayat and have last mile connectivity through wireless broadband connectivity to people’s smart phones. The outlay for this project is Rs.2,351.38 crore to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March, 2019.
- Digitally literate persons would be able to operate computers/digital access devices (like tablets, smart phones, etc.), send and receive emails, browse internet, access Government Services, search for information, undertaking cashless transactions, etc. and hence use IT to actively participate in the process of nation building.
Concerns / Challenges
- At present India’s infrastructure is not at the stage at which we can reap the benefits of the Information and Communication Technology. According to World Economic Forum’s Annual Network Readiness Index which assess the information and the communication capability of 140 nations, in 2013 India was at 68th position but in 2016 India has slipped to 91st We need to step up our efforts to bring in optical fibre connectivity to each gram panchayat and also increase the 4G coverage in all villages. Regional language content has been developed in the government records in a user friendly manner.
- The major problem in the digital transactions is the security and the privacy. People need to be trained on how to protect their financial information.
- The authentication solely based on biometrics as in Aadhaar Enabled Payment System(AEPS) is insecure and there is lot of scope for cyber crime. Well educated people and technically sound people are also falling prey to the cyber criminals. It will be very difficult for the rural masses who have to first understand the technologies and procedure to keep their information secure.
Need of the Hour
- India needs at least 1.5 million cyber security professionals each year if we have to make the digital transactions secure. There has to be international standards like ISO for payment initiations, security transactions, Asset transactions etc. The ISO has series from 27001 to 27004 for keeping information secure by organisations. Many of the banks have not yet adhered to these kinds of international standards.
- At the time when the nation is moving towards digital payments it is necessary to train people especially the rural household.
- After demonetisation drive people are getting fraudulent calls and messages. The banks have to take the responsibility to educate their customers regarding fraudulent emails and messages.
- The private sector must also adhere to these standards. The regulator for the digital transactions has to be setup to look at the responsibilities and the liabilities for fraudulent transactions.
- The government has started one more scheme named DISHA to make people digitally literate. The government provides 100% reimbursement if we train someone from SC / ST, BPL category, Anganwadi and Asha worker; and 75% for OBC and General category.
- The mobile applications have to be made very secure. The apps can exchange information with other apps and thereby become vulnerable. The OTP is not encrypted, so anyone can intercept the OTP and complete the transaction.
- Private sector institutions and financial institutions have taken part in the digital literacy and educating the customers. This has to be extended to every individual who has a bank account. People try to ignore these practices because it is the ease of use vs ease of security. The more secure the transaction the more difficult it becomes to carry it out.