Thursday, November 13, 2014

Digital India- A Transformative Program

           Digital India is a program to prepare India for a knowledge future. The focus is on making technology central to enabling change. It is an Umbrella Program covering many departments, weaving together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision. Each element, though a part of the larger picture, stands on its own. It is co-ordinated by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology(DeitY). The weaving together makes the mission transformative in totality.
           The Program pulls together many existing schemes, restructuring some of them and refocusing  few others, to be implemented in a synchronized manner. An interesting aspect is that many elements are only process improvements with minimal cost.
            The vision of Digital India is centered on three key areas viz. Digital Infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, Governance & Services on demand, and Digital Empowerment of citizens. Inter alia, it intends to provide 250,000 villages with broadband access by 2019, with 400,000 Public Internet Access points, with an estimated investment of approximately US $ 15 billion on ongoing projects and around US $ 2 billion on new projects.
           Among other things, it aims to provide citizens open and easy access to information through open data platform, by online hosting of information and documents, and pro-active engagement through social media.
           One of the pillars on the support of which Digital India is sought to be achieved is e-governance : Reforming Government through Technology. This is planned to be  achieved  via Business Process re-engineering, within a timeline of three years, using IT to improve transactions including simplification of forms, online applications and tracking, integration of services, workflow automation within three years, and electronic databases. Services to be available in real time from online and mobile platforms, with services digitally transformed for improving ease of doing business. In addition, redressal of public grievances are also sought to be accomplished, using IT to automate, respond, and analyze data to identify and resolve persistent problems - largely process improvements.
        How ever, the program and it's implementation are not without challenges. The mammoth scale of the program, human resource issues, institutional capacity, financial resources, apart from co-ordination issues are some of the challenges which need to be tackled effectively.Nevertheless, oversight by institutional mechanism at national level, in the form of a monitoring committee chaired by the Prime Minister of India, should help the program tide over these difficulties.

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