Digital India: Unlocking the Trillion Dollar Opportunity

Digital India

Digital India is the campaign which was launched by the  Prime of India in the year 2015, this campaign was introduced to ensure that Government services are made available electronically to every citizen of India by improved online infrastructure and by increasing Internet connectivity or by making the country digitally empowered in the field of technology.

The planning initiative includes connecting rural areas with high-speed internet networks. Digital India consists of three core components. They are:

  • Development of secure and stable Digital Infrastructure
  • Delivering government services digitally
  • Universal Digital Literacy

The Digital India program with its focus on three key vision areas:

  • Infrastructure as a utility to every citizen;
  • Governance and services on demand and
  • Digital empowerment of citizens.

The Digital India Plan has the potential to increase India’s GDP by 20-30% until 2025. Since its launch, there has been significant progress in several initiatives under Digital India.

The government is focusing on developing the dual infrastructure i.e.

  • Physical infrastructure as well as;
  • Software and security infrastructure, the main aim of focusing on this infrastructure is to ensure the success of its vision of providing infrastructure as a utility to every citizen of the country.

Till now, the government has successfully achieved the digitization of all the Government department, post offices and has set up Common Service Centres (CSCs) to deliver e-governance services in villages. To increase the speed of development and adoption of digital services, the government needs to increase the availability of digital infrastructure in rural areas, leverage existing infrastructure and improve digital awareness.

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Several digital services have been launched over the last few years. The e-payment portal, RuPay promoted by National Payments Corporation of India represents 38% of all debit cards issued in India, ahead of Visa and MasterCard.

Capacity building is critical to the success of the Digital India program. As of 2016, digital literacy in India is less than 10%. The government has undertaken several initiatives to increase the rate of digital literacy in order to effectively harness the upcoming digital wave.  To develop sufficient skills and increase digital literacy and to support the Digital India Vision, the government has initiated the Capacity Building Scheme to provide training for designing and delivering projects in Digital India. Additionally, several measures are being taken to increase the adoption of digital technologies so that the benefits of Digital India can reach all sections of society.

Challenges Faced in Implementation of Digital India

The Digital India program faces a number of challenges that need to be addressed. These include:-

  • Delay in development of infrastructure:

One of the biggest challenges faced by the Digital India programme is the slow progress of infrastructure development. Public Wi-Fi penetration remains low. Globally, there is one Wi-Fi hotspot for every 150 citizens. For India to reach that expected level, around 8 million hotspots are required out of which only about 31,000 hotspots are currently available.

  • Rural connectivity:

For Digital India to have a large scale impact on citizens across the nation, the digital divide needs to be addressed through last mile connectivity in remote rural areas. Currently, around 55,000 villages remain deprived of mobile connectivity. This figure is largely due to the fact that providing mobile connectivity in such rural locations is not commercially viable for service providers.

  • Development of the application ecosystem:
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For making digital technology to be accessible to every citizen, significant efforts are needed to customize the useful apps and services to cater to local needs. Finding such vendors who can provide all these applications has become a challenge.

  • Policy framework for Digital India:

Challenges in policy, such as taxation, the right of way, restrictive regulations, etc. are major roadblocks in realizing the vision of Digital India.

  • Contracting:

Implementation of the Digital India program has been hampered by contracting challenges such as the following:

  • Several projects assigned to PSUs are delayed given challenges related to skills, experience, and technical capabilities.
  • Several RFPs schemes launched by the government of India are not adopted by private sector organizations since they are not commercially feasible.
  • Digital literacy:

Reports suggest that nearly 70% of Indian consumers indicated that lack of awareness was the main reason for not using internet services. The nonavailability of digital services in local languages of the people of India is also one of the major concerns.

Key Takeaways

Development of digital infrastructure is a critical component of Digital India. To further enable development of digital infrastructure, the following measures should be considered:-

  • Uniform policies for deploying telecom and optic fiber infrastructure:
  • Encourage collaboration with the private sector:
  • Rural infrastructure development:
  • Use of complementary technologies:

Digital literacy in India is rapidly evolving into one of the largest digital economies globally. The rising internet user base in India and smartphone penetration are expected to provide access to digital technologies to all sections of the population.

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With increased 4G and 3G penetration, the Internet user base in India is rapidly expanding and has reached a penetration of over 27% versus 50.3% penetration in China. It is expected to almost double to 600 million users by 2020 from approximately 343 users currently.

Globally India stands second-largest mobile phone market with around 1 billion mobile subscriptions. Presently there are 240 million subscriptions of the smartphone this figure is expected to grow to 520 million by 2020. Majority of internet users access the internet through mobile networks. Although internet penetration has been on the rise, digital literacy in India is still low. To make success to the digital India campaign, it is important to increase digital literacy in India. The Government of India, as well as several private players of the market, have taken initiatives to create awareness and increase the rate of digital literacy in India.

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