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Digital India is a campaign launched by the Government of India to ensure the Government services are made available to citizens electronically by improved online infrastructure and by increasing Internet connectivity or by making the country digitally empowered in the field of technology. The initiative includes plans to connect ruralareas with high-speed internet networks. Digital India consists of three core components, (a) development of secure and stable digital infrastructure, (b) delivering government services digitally, and (c) universal digital literacy.

Launched on 1 July 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is both enabler and beneficiary of other key Government of India schemes, such as BharatNet, Make in India, Startup India and Standup India, Industrial corridors, Bharatmala, Sagarmala, Dedicated Freight Corridors and UDAN-RCS.

History

Digital India was launched by the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi on 1 July 2015 with an objective of connecting rural areas with high-speed Internet networks and improving digital literacy. The vision of Digital India programme is inclusive growth in areas of electronic services, products, manufacturing and job opportunities etc. and it is centred on three key areas – Digital Infrastructure as a Utility to Every Citizen, Governance & Services on Demand and Digital Empowerment of Citizens.

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The logo of Digital India project.

Digital India Initiative

The Government of India entity Bharat Broadband Network Limited (BBNL) which executes the BharatNet project is the custodian of Digital India (DI) project. Bh5aratNet will connect all the 625,000 villages of India by December 2018.

Implementation

New digital services

Some of the facilities which will be provided through this initiative are Bharat net, Digital Locker, e-education, e-health, e-sign, e-shopping and national scholarship portal. As the part of Digital India, Indian Government planned to launch Botnet cleaning centers.

  • National e-Governance Plan aimed at bringing all the front-end government services online.
    • MyGov.in is a platform to share inputs and ideas on matters of policy and governance.It is a platform for citizen engagement in governance, through a "Discuss", "Do" and "Disseminate" approach.
    • UMANG (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) is a Government of India all-in-one single unified secure multi-channel multi-platform multi-lingual multi-service freeware mobile app for accessing over 1,200 central and state government services in multiple Indian languages over Android, iOS, Windows and USSD (feature phone) devices, including services such as AADHAR, DigiLocker, Bharat Bill Payment System, PAN, EPFO services, PMKVYservices, AICTE, CBSE, tax and fee or utilities bills payments, education, job search, tax, business, health, agriculture, travel, Indian railway tickets bookings, birth certificates, e-District, e-Panchayat, police clearance, passport, other utility services from private companies and much more.
    • eSign framework allows citizens to digitally sign a document online using Aadhaar authentication.
    • Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Mobile app is being used by people and Government organisations for achieving the goals of Swachh Bharat Mission.
    • eHospital application provides important services such as online registration, payment of fees and appointment, online diagnostic reports, enquiring availability of blood online etc.
    • Digital attendance: The "attendance.gov.in" is a website, launched by PM Narendra Modi on 1 July 2015 to keep a record of the attendance of Government employees on a real-time basis. This initiative started with implementation of a common Biometric Attendance System (BAS) in the central government offices located in Delhi.
  • Back-end digitisation
    • Black money eradication: The 2016 Union budget of India announced 11 technology initiatives including the use of data analytics to nab tax evaders, creating a substantial opportunity for IT companies to build out the systems that will be required. Digital Literacy mission will cover six crore rural households. It is planned to connect 550 farmer markets in the country through the use of technology.
  • Facilities to digitally empower citizen
    • Digital Locker facility will help citizens to digitally store their important documents like PAN card, passport, mark sheets and degree certificates. Digital Locker will provide secure access to Government issued documents. It uses authenticity services provided by Aadhaar. It is aimed at eliminating the use of physical documents and enables the sharing of verified electronic documents across government agencies. Three key stakeholders of DigiLocker are Citizen, Issuer and requester.
    • BPO and job growth: The government is planning to create 28,000 seats of BPOs in various states and set up at least one Common Service Centre in each of the gram panchayats in the state.
    • e-Sampark Vernacular email service Out of 10% English speaking Indians, only 2% reside in rural areas. Rest everyone depends on their vernacular language for all living their lives. However, as of now, email addresses can only be created in English language. To connect rural India with the Digital India, the Government of India impelled email services provider giants including Gmail, office and Rediff to provide the email address in regional Languages. The email provider companies have shown positive sign and is working in the same process. An Indian-based company, Data Xgen Technologies Pvt Ltd, has launched world’s first free linguistic email address under the name ‘DATAMAIL’ which allows creating email ids in 8 Indian languages, English; and 3 foreign languages – Arabic, Russian and Chinese. Over the period of time the email service in 22 languages will be offered by Data XGen Technologies. Training

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan is being executed by PMGDisha with an outlay of Rs 2,351.38 crore with the objective of making 6 crore rural households digitally literate by March 2019. Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (abbreviated as PMG Disha) is an initiative under Digital India program, approved by The Union Cabinet chaired by the PM Narendra Modi. The main objective of the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyanvis to make 6 Crore people in rural areas, across India, digitally literate, reaching to around 40% of rural households by covering one member from every eligible household.

Ongoing awareness campaign

Annual Digital India Summit & Awards are held.

Income

The programme has been favoured by multiple countries including the US, Japan, South Korea, the UK, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

At the launch ceremony of Digital India Week by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on 1 July 2015, top CEOs from India and abroad committed to invest ₹224.5 lakh crore (US$3.3 trillion) towards this initiative. The CEOs said the investments would be utilized towards making smartphones and internet devices at an affordable price in India which would help generate jobs in India as well as reduce the cost of importing them from abroad.

Leaders from [Silicon Valley], San Jose, California expressed their support for Digital India during PM Narendra Modi's visit in September 2015. Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, changed his profile picture in support of Digital India and started a chain on Facebook and promised to work on WiFi Hotspots in rural area of India. Google committed to provide broadband connectivity on 500 railway stations in India. Microsoft agreed to provide broadband connectivity to five hundred thousand villages in India and make India its cloud hub through Indian data centres. Qualcommannounced an investment of US$150 million in Indian startups. Oracle plans to invest in 20 states and will work on payments and Smart city initiatives. However back home in India, cyber experts expressed their concern over internet.org and viewed the Prime Minister's bonhomie with Zuckerberg as the government's indirect approval of the controversial initiative. The Statesman reported, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi's chemistry with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the social media giant's headquarters in California may have been greeted enthusiastically in Silicon Valley but back home several social media enthusiasts and cyber activists are disappointed." Later the Prime Minister office clarified that net neutrality will be maintained at all costs and vetoed the Basic Internet plans. Digital India has also been influential in promoting the interests of the Indian Railways.

Criticism

Several academic scholars have critiqued ICTs in development. Some take issue with technological determinism, the notion that ICTs are a sure-fire antidote to the world's problems. Instead, governments must adjust solutions to the specific political and social context of their nation. Others note that technology amplifies underlying institutional forces, so technology must be accompanied by significant changes in policy and institutions in order to have meaningful impact.

It is being thought that there needs to be more research on the actual worth of these multimillion-dollar government and ICT for development projects. For the most part, the technological revolution in India has benefited the already privileged sectors of Indians.It is also difficult to scale up initiatives to affect all Indians, and fundamental attitudinal and institutional change is still an issue. While much ICT research has been conducted in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat, poorer states such as Bihar and Orissa are rarely mentioned.

Impact

The internet subscribers have increased to 500 million in India till April 2017.On 28 December 2015, Panchkula district of Haryana was awarded for being the best as well as top performing district in the state under the Digital India campaign.

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