Marking the occasion of ‘Digital India Week’, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Communications and Information Technology, revealed several digital initiatives put together to give impetus to the Government of India’s and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Digital India’ program. Gracing the event were some of India’s business elite, who threw their weight behind the announcement by pledging their full support for the government’s plan.
The public effort
The Digital India program aims to provide a slew of existing and new e-governance services through a centralized platform, the Digital India Platform, the result of which will empower the citizens and increase government efficiency. Some of the interesting announcements made were:
MyGov.in to be integrated as a simple mobile app which will allow citizens to participate in matters related to governance more easily, and enable government to disclose information related to schemes and funds directly to people who matter.
Bharat Net to allow government to connect 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats of the country through a secure, high speed broadband connection.
E-Locker initiative to allow people to store all their sensitive government related documents securely online and share it across state and central agencies at the click of a button.
E-Signature capability to allow citizens to digitally sign documents by virtue of their AADHAR information.
Centre of excellences for promoting R&D in the field of flexible electronics in the country and also the emerging trend of Internet Of Things were also announced.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his signature clarion call to the nation, asked the youth to take the challenges of cyber security head on and make the 'Digital India' initiative successful, amidst other key remarks.
The private effort
At the Digital India event, some of the country’s leading industrialists backed the government’s initiatives by revealing their own plans through a flurry of announcements.
Mukesh Ambani, MD of Reliance Industries, went on to reveal that his company would invest over Rs 2,50,000 crore over the next several years to empower and enrich the government’s Digital India roadmap. Mr Ambani also announced a Digital India Startup Fund to enable entrepreneurship in the digital services sector. Anil Ambani also announced investments to the tune of Rs 10,000 crores towards setting up new data centres locally to improve the country’s cloud computing infrastructure.
Pawan Munjal of Hero Group said that India’s IT and electronics import bill will surpass that of our oil bill by 2020, and therefore there was a great need to ‘Make in India’ to realize the dream of ‘Digital India’.
Cyrus Mistry spoke of TCS’ efforts towards enabling Digital India through executing e-projects, an online education platform, rural farmer advice portal, and digital skills generation to empower the rural populace and create new jobs. Kumar Mangalam Birla spoke about IDEA Cellular networks plans to improve fibre connectivity in the country, invest over Rs 40,000 crores to widen reach, enable healthcare and weather report facility, mobile wallets, and the conception of a fully digitally managed township (as part of the government’s Smart Cities project).
Azim Premji, Head of Wipro, spoke about improving manpower skill in the country, digitising healthcare by enabling the world’s largest digital healthcare delivery system. Sunil Mittal of Bharti Enterprises spoke of Airtel and improving radio signal coverage, broadband penetration in the country, and also of an investment of Rs 1,00,000 crores to take 4G cellular services to the masses, start e-health and e-education portals, and more.
Reactions to Digital India initiative
Just how important is the government’s Digital India initiative? Let’s hear it from some industry experts keeping a close eye on the day’s announcements.
Mr. Nitin Gupta, CEO and Founder, PayU India, had this to say, ”Digital India is a great step and it will add both efficiency and transparency in the system. We as a digital payments company will be even more benefitted as this will increase the number of people accessing Internet in India. We salute the initiative"
Prashant Singhal, Global Telecommunications leader, EY says, “Roti, kapda and makaan were necessities of yesterday. Knowledge, e-services and connectivity are a must for developing ‘India of future’. Hon’ble Prime Minister’s Digital Bharat vision will lead to first large scale data revolution; setting example for the world. The vision has the potential to transform ‘Bharat of today’ to ‘India of tomorrow’.
"Digitising India is the only sure shot way to reach the benefit of growth to india's masses and that then will create the multiplier to ensure the target 8 to 10% sustained GDP growth. The call for digital India is certainly the most appropriate call for transforming India into a vibrant and strong global economy." says Mr. Pramod Saxena, Founder & CMD, Oxigen Services.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had this to say,
Needless to say, the ‘Digital India’ announcement was followed closely by Netizens. Twitter’s live video streaming app, Periscope brought people closer to the launch of @_DigitalIndia project, and the Periscope video got more than 260 live viewers with 1040 likes. YouTube’s live video link of the broadcast had over 2,600 viewers watching at one point of time, while we still wait for official numbers to be made public. Twitter has been flooded with #DigitalIndia and it’s now a trending topic with over 85,000 tweets till a short while ago and counting.
What do you think of the government’s Digital India initiative? Too many announcements, with the possibility of too little follow through? Or is this a turning point in our nation’s history? Let us know your views on our Twitter and Facebook page.
(with inputs from Anshumala Balu, Lavleen Bhati, Nikhil Punjabi and Siddharth Parwatay)