Super Six: 6 years of Digital India

Super Six: 6 years of Digital India

By Dr Subi Chaturvedi,

As India started its journey towards digital, one important feature set it apart from similar journeys by other nations, and that is the role of the state in the transformation process. India’s road to digital transformation was paved by important Government initiatives that led to new digital platforms for the citizens and improved access to such platforms. Aadhar probably was the most significant achievement, covering 99% of the Indian population, allowing them access to important government digital services. Not only did this improve availability and transparency of social payments, it also helped in providing financial assistance to those in need.

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A clearly defined road map

The Digital India programme has three vision areas: digital infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen, governance & services on demand, and digital empowerment of citizens. Today, the ambition program completes its six years, and despite achieving so much, there is so much more than can be done.

This unique flagship programme of the Government of India was launched on 1 July, 2015 with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. It started as an attempt to improve access to critical Government services by making the country digitally empowered through improved infrastructure and connectivity. The programme has been enabled for several important Government schemes, such as BharatNet, Make in India, Startup India and Standup India, industrial corridors, etc.

Digital India, an umbrella programme that covers multiple Government Ministries and Departments, is a consolidation of various smaller initiatives and ideas into a comprehensive vision. Each initiative is implemented as part of a larger goal under the overall coordination done by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY). The programme was to provide thrust to the nine pillars of growth areas, namely Broadband Highways, Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity, Public Internet Access Programme, e-Governance: Reforming Government through Technology, e-Kranti – Electronic Delivery of Services, Information for All, Electronics Manufacturing, IT for Jobs and Early Harvest Programmes.

Another significant achievement under the Digital India umbrella was the introduction of Unified Payments Interface (UPI), which introduced the benefits of digital payments in every part of the country. From flourishing businesses to modest street vendors, UPI is helping everyone with payments and transactions. This also encourages a number of private players to provide alternatives for digital payments which completely transformed the Indian economy. In 2021 alone, Indians have made 37.90 billion digital transactions, an increase of 27.9 billion from 2016, the year UPI was launched, when around 10 billion transactions were made.

Along the similar lines, the Electronic Customer Identification System (e-KYC), the Electronic Document Storage System (DigiLocker) and the Electronic Signature System (eSign) were introduced to help businesses streamline their operations. Significant progress was also made in the work of e-government bringing together an electronic procurement platform, an extensive resource of government data and a one-stop-store system for accessing more than 300 public services.

Beyond the JAM Trinity

What started as a simple step to kick off the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile) to weed out leakages in the system, today empowered the entire vaccination drive for COVID, making India only the second nation to USA that administered 20 crore vaccines. Tech solutions empowered by Digital India that has built the infrastructure for years together today serve as a basis for other emerging interventions in the fields of start-ups, digital education, seamless banking and payment solutions, agritech, health tech, smart cities, e-governance and retail management.

In fact, India faced the pandemic as an empowered nation that operated digitally in every arena, throughout the lockdown period to keep the growth clock ticking. It would not have been feasible without the dream of Prime Minister Modi who said, “For me IT + IT = IT” or, as he elaborated, “Indian Talent + Information Technology = India Tomorrow.” Digital India followed by Digital Village successfully bridged the gap between Bharat and India enabling the country to weave it into a dream for tomorrow where technology can be used and accessed by all.

As the platform of Digital India, governance and related infrastructure shaped up the public service of the country, the private businesses which were already transforming themselves by imbibing technology to remain relevant thrived. The speed at which India accelerated into tech enabled platforms for office meetings, schools, entertainment, games, food and shopping during the pandemic led lockdown is a combined result of public internet access programme, information for all and a plethora of accessible hardware.

Every relevant activity of human beings became digitized, including recreation and entertainment. Digital or online gaming saw the highest growth during lockdown in the media and entertainment sector with 365 million online gamers by the end of 2020, as compared to 269 million online gamers in 2018. It is expected to further increase to 436 million in the current fiscal year and to 510 million in 2022.

new source: finance

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