Saturday, January 22, 2022

Transform India through the Power of Technology

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Digital India initiative can transform the way public services would be delivered in India in near future. Digital India project is worth exploring and implementation.

Digital India Initiative of Indian Government intends to transform India into digital empowered society and knowledge economy. It is a very wide and ambitious project that has been launched by Narendra Modi Government. It has many components and may be supplemented with related initiatives like draft Internet of Things (IoT) Policy of India.

The aim of Digital India is to ensure that Government services are available to citizens electronically and in an online environment. It also intends to bring in public accountability through mandated delivery of government’s services electronically, a Unique ID and e-Pramaan based on authentic and standard based interoperable and integrated government applications and data basis. The existing/ ongoing e-governance projects of India would be revamped to align them with the principles of Digital India.

Digital India initiative is praiseworthy and deserves full support of all stakeholders. The unique platform of Common Services Centres (CSCs) – which were just 83,000 when the present government was formed – now numbering 2.91 lakh with presence in 1.83 lakh gram panchayats has become a robust movement for digital delivery of services ranging from banking to insurance to pension to land records to Bharat bill payments and a host of others. Many of these are moving into new areas like skilling, LED bulb manufacturing, spreading digital literacy and even establishing low-cost sanitary napkin outfits for improving menstrual health in rural areas.

Home grown, low cost technology based initiatives like e-Hospital, e-Scholarship, soil health cards, Jeevan Pramaan for pensioners, e-NAM linking agricultural mandis to farmers and a host of other digital products are ensuring flawless delivery of services and creating entrepreneurship.

Other digital products like the cloud based digi-locker and extraordinary rise in digital payments including phenomenal success of the home grown Bhim app (whose monthly transaction value increased from Rs 5,325 crore in October 2017 to Rs 24,172 crore in March 2018), are all extraordinary signs of transformation leading to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. The stellar success of the recently launched Umang app that integrates central and state government services on one platform and has seen more than 50 lakh downloads since its November 2017 launch, is noteworthy.

In making Digital India a mass movement our programme to open BPOs in small towns of India provides government support to bridge the viability gap. In just 3 years, 89 BPOs operate today in 27 states/UTs. BPOs are now operational in Imphal, Guwahati, Siliguri, Patna, Muzaffarpur, Madurai, Puducherry and even in areas like Badgam, Sopore and Srinagar. BPOs in places like Gaya, Deoria, Jhansi, Jehanabad, etc have now been finalised. Many girls and boys from rural areas work in them and some even service clients from abroad. This has created opportunities for thousands of jobs.

This extraordinary development of a digital ecosystem is taking place in sync with the larger and conventional IT profile of India. According to NASSCOM, the formal IT-BPM sector today stands at $167 billion with exports reaching $126 billion. It has added 6, 00,000 jobs in the last three years, employing 3.97 million people directly and almost 12 million people indirectly. Even in face of global slowdown, the sector continued to expand in India and added almost 1 lakh jobs in FY 2017-18. According to Randstad, the Indian IT sector is poised to grow at a cumulative growth rate of 9%.

Another area of strong growth is the e-commerce sector, mainly driven by growing rural aspirations. Apart from generating employment in direct activities related to e-commerce platforms, this growth has a positive impact on the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and has a favourable cascading effect on other industries, creating increased employment opportunities.

The future is very promising because India’s digital economy, large size of our market, demographic dividend and passion for technology is creating enormous demand. Our digital economy also includes emerging areas like AI and IoT, the growing start-up movement and low cost, effective cyber security solutions. While we work out the details, no one doubts the potential to make India’s digital economy worth $1 trillion, employing 50-70 lakh people in the next 5-7 years.

If properly implemented, Digital India initiative can transform the way public services would be delivered in India in near future. Digital India project is worth exploring and implementation.

IT Ministry partners Google on ‘Build for Digital India’

Recently, Google has signed a statement of intent with the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) for rolling out ‘Build for Digital India’ programme. The programme will offer a platform to engineering students to develop market-ready, technology-based solutions that address key social problems, a release said. As part of the program, engineering students across the country will be invited to present their ideas and solutions in areas like healthcare, agriculture, edu smart cities and infrastructure, women safety, smart mobility and transportation, environment, accessibility and disability and digital literacy. Applicants will take part in online and offline learning opportunities on key technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), Cloud and Android that will be offered through Google’s Developer Student Club network and other Google Developer networks, it said. Google will also offer mentorship sessions in product design, strategy and technology to the most promising products and prototypes.

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