Write a critical note on Digital India programmer and critically analyze the concerns raised against it and measures needed to address these concerns.
Answer: Digital India is an ambitious project of the government of India. It is an initiative to build Digital infrastructure and provide Internet access, service to every citizen along with Digital literacy to empower them to utilize it effectively. However, its true potential is yet realize.
However, the nine pillars of “Digital India” program are, broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public internet access program, e-governance, e-Kranti, information for all, electronics manufacturing, IT for jobs and early harvest programs.
It is a comprehensive approach to leverage the technology for the developmental purpose. It aims at creating digital infrastructure, delivering services digitally and making people digitally literate. Under the digital infrastructure government plans to expand the access to internet thorough National Optical Fiber Network and mobile internet access.
Government also plant to expand the range of services delivered online with services like digital locker and e-hospitals in addition to missions under National Egovernance plans. Program also aims at levering technology to impart skills and make people digitally literate with focus on digital classroom and e-education.
But critics have pointed out shortcoming and raised their concerns. Some of them are:
Lack of implementation is basic issue. The National optimal fiber network is behind the schedule and there are no sign of accelerated implementation.
Absence of Privacy Law expose the users of these programmes to risk of ‘identity theft‘, misuse of database and cyber abuse. E-governance programme without process re-engineering is just adding another layer without bringing efficiency. Also it would limit the access to vulnerable and marginalized people.
Today, only 9 per cent of those who live in rural areas have access to the internet, compared to 64 per cent of those who live in. 2006 National Optical Fibre Network project to connect more than two lakh gram panchayats was sluggish from the start, and lagged five years behind schedule by 2013. The project has been subsumed under Digital India but the government is laying only 500 km of fibre optic cable a month — way behind the stated goal of 30,000 km every month. Thus, less immediate use to rural areas. Also, issue of power in rural areas to access internet.
For program to be successful, government needs to address the genuine concerns raised. There is need for ‘privacy law’ and ‘data protection measures’ to increase trust of people in such programs. It would help in increase usage of government services. New protocols may be developed in this regard. The formation of the NCIIPC is crucial in this regard.
A robust institutional framework and implementation focused approach along with measures to ensure safety and security of data is essential for ‘Digital India’ to succeed in its mission of empowering the citizens.In order to fulfil its objective of digitalising India, it must take steps to ensure that the privacy of the citizen is completely protected by enacting an act.
Government should gain trust among its citizens by increasing the internal security on cyber attacks and should show history of zero cyber attacks. This trust can only be built over a period of time. Government’s main motive of digitalising is to eliminate the middlemen in government service processes so that efficiency would be increased and corruption would be reduced but digitally excluded majority most probably need the help of middlemen to use it.
Government should ensure that the services are given in maximum possible languages to reach the masses directly and should also take steps to expose the unexposed to the digital world by campaigning and advertising the advantages of using such services