Digital India – The Way Forward

“The world used to think we are a land of snake charmers and black magic. But our youth has surprised the world with its IT skills. I dream of a digital India. It was once said railways connects India. Today I say IT connects India.”

~ Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India,
Independence Day Speech, 2014

What is Digital India?

Digital India is an initiative undertaken by the Government of India to integrate the government departments and the people of India. It aims at ensuring that the government services are made available to citizens electronically by reducing paperwork, increasing transparency, and also curbing corruption to an extent. The initiative also plans to connect rural areas with high-speed internet networks.

Vision of Digital India includes providing high speed internet connectivity to 250,000 Gram Panchayats, improve inter-operability, and promote digital literacy.

So, how will it affect me?

The Digital India initiative is said to bring in a change on how the common man connects to the government, healthcare, education and employment opportunities. What this means is that the government is taking initiatives to promote universal access to mobile connectivity and reform governance through technology; all of this while providing information for all and creating IT-related jobs. To give an idea, the government plans to create 400,000 public internet access points and create 17 million direct, and an additional 85 million indirect jobs by 2019.

To achieve the same, Government of India is also encouraging companies to manufacture their products in India. ‘Manufacturing Electronics’ is one of the nine pillars of Digital India. This is said to help bring down imports and boost local employment.

Image- – (9 pillars)

Digisol too, with its ‘Made In India’ products, is doing its bit to contribute to the Digital India campaign.

Going by the results of a recent FICCI-KPMG study, that hails India as the world’s fastest growing smartphone market and predicts a rapid growth in digital media, these visions set by the government seem to be well within reach.

Heading towards a digitally empowered India 

As per the World Bank report, a 10% increase in mobile and broadband penetration increases the per capita GDP by 0.81% and 1.38% respectively in developing countries.

“Today, connecting digitally is an absolute necessity and not an option anymore,” states Ravi Gururaj, chairman, NASSCOM product council.

The digital business models are helping reach out to a wider audience, making the services affordable, easy and effective for the users. For example, entrepreneurial ventures such as BigBasket (grocery at home), Portea Medical (home healthcare), SuperProfs (online education), etc. are enabling inclusive growth by delivering high quality services to masses at low-cost.

So, what are the challenges for Digital India? 

A global study by McKinsey and Facebook finds that India has one billion people without Internet access. The report, titled ‘Offline and Falling Behind: Barriers to Internet Adoption’ has constructed an ‘Internet Barrier Index’ assessing the obstacles to Internet access in 25 countries. India finishes 20th on that list.

Even though the mobile data plans in India are among the cheapest in the world and the average retail price of smartphones are sharply declining, internet is out of reach of nearly 950 million Indians as even the cheapest of data plans are too expensive for a majority of the Indian population.Poor network coverage in villages adds to the already existing economic challenges.

The biggest challenge for the realization of Digital India campaign is the high level of cost involved. An approximate cost of implementing the initiative is 1.13 trillion (including ongoing and new schemes). It will also need the right leadership, commitment, and constant support of all government departments and people alike.

Prashant Singhal, Global Telecommunications Leader, EY, said, “Digital Bharat is the only growth engine which will have the potential to transform India into a knowledge led economy and society. It is thus imperative for us to overcome the current challenges and bridge the digital divide which would also act as a catalyst to the economic growth.”

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