India in the Digiverse
The promises are great as ever, on paper. The umbrella programme ‘Digital India’ covers many departments. The latest Digital India drive initiated and promoted by the government of India is an ambitious project given the motives and goals it has on its list. Incorporating technology with governance is the need of the hour and this initiative kick starts itself at the right moment.
The initiative comes with a nine point agenda which the official websites lists as the ‘nine pillars of digital India’ (project). And e-Governance is just one of them. Already the penetration of the internet is peaking thanks to the mobile/smart phone revolution. In fact the internet users have increased by a whopping 63% this March as compared to the users exactly a year before. I even came across a infographic claiming this jump in a year time as one of the achievements of Modi regime. Needless to say it’s far from actuality.
Improving connectivity and thereby accessibility is the fundamental aspect for this ambitious project. Because digitally empowering India could never be realized without improving the connectivity. We now live in an era of mobile Internet. Thanks to the android smart phone mass penetration even to rural India has open the doors of the digital universe (Digiverse in short) to any one via a smart phone. Data reveals already in India internet access via mobile phones has outnumbered the net usage via computers (the figures last year stood at 56% of entire net usage via mobiles). Hence for any government that marches towards reaching its people through e-Governance is forced to think about m-Governance as well. As the future of internet connectivity lies on the mobile platform no doubt m-Governance is going to be the way.
During the launch of the project a couple of days ago we also have seen the promises and big announcements top corporate of the nation. Clearly this project is corporate’s darling and have pledged huge investments on this initiative.
In the administrative level digital governance would certainly pave way for more transparency making great many works, which are so tedious in the current procedure, just a click away. Most of the government registration procedures going digital would certainly check on bribery, the cancerous habit of the government offices.
BSNL has of now undertaken the task of setting up Wi-Fi hotspots across the nation for better access (The current aim is to provide 2500 WiFi hotspots across the nation with an allocated budget of 7000 crore) . But having not improved in any way in the internet speed how this would be helpful in realizing this great plan on paper to materialize is a big question. As of now the data speed is relatively deadly slow compared to many other nations. India ranks 115 globally in terms of internet speeds. Without speedier connections the plan would be just like a golden palace at sight without roads to reach there.
This drive might take a few years to reveal its impact and if all goes well the rural India would as well be connected as the urban India with the rest of the world (universal mobile connectivity).
Digital governance is a road taken by the top nations already. Britain aims at all-digital governance by 2020. The nectar of this mega drive could only be possible the degree to which the core focus of the drive, improving broadband connectivity at affordable costs.