GS Mains Model Question & Answer: Discuss the vision, scope and challenges of Digital India Project


GS Mains Model Question & Answer: Discuss the vision, scope and challenges of Digital India Project


Q. Discuss the vision, scope and challenges of Digital India Project . (12.5 Marks)

(General Studies Mains Paper III- Science and Technology: Awareness in the fields of IT)

Model Answer :

Digital India is a Programme to prepare India for a knowledge future. Prime Minsiter of India has laid emphasis on National e- governance plan and has gave approval for Digital India – A programme to transform India into digital empowered society and knowledge economy.

Vision of Digital India

The vision of Digital India programme aims at inclusive growth in areas of electronic services, products, manufacturing and job opportunities etc. It is centred on three key areas –

  • Digital Infrastructure as a Utility to Every Citizen
  • Governance & Services on Demand and
  • Digital Empowerment of Citizens

Scope of Digital India

The overall scope of this programme is:

(i) to prepare India for a knowledge future.
(ii) on being transformative that is to realize IT (Indian Talent) + IT (Information Technology) = IT (India Tomorrow)
(iii) making technology central to enabling change.
(iv) on being an Umbrella Programme – covering many departments.

  • The programme weaves together a large number of ideas and thoughts into a single, comprehensive vision, so that each of them is seen as part of a larger goal. Each individual element stands on its own, but is also part of the larger picture.
  • The weaving together makes the Mission transformative in totality.

(v) The Digital India Programme will pull together many existing schemes which would be restructured and re-focused and implemented in a synchronized manner. The common branding of the programmes as Digital India, highlights their transformative impact.

Nine Pillars of Growth Areas

The initiative introduces nine "pillars" that the government will expand on, in its push to try to bridge the country's digital divide. The significance of each pillar and what challenges the government faces in trying to implement them.

Broadband Highways

Digital India aims to have broadband networks that will span India's cities, towns and 250,000 villages by end-2016, along with a system of networks and data centres called the National Information Infrastructure.

This project needs content and service partnerships with telecom companies and other firms, with new entrepreneurs.

Universal Access to Phones

"Universal access" does not, however, guarantee a working network. Even in its major cities, India's mobile network is so stressed that many say it's broken, with call failures and drops a common complaint.

An intense shortage of spectrum has driven up costs and driven down service quality for India's telecom industry.

As users ramp up multimedia use, and the next 100 million mobile broadband users come on board, networks will not be able to keep up. Digital India needs more spectrum.

Public Internet Access

This aims to increase the number of government-run facilities (Common Service Centres or CSC) that provide digital services to citizens, especially in remote or rural areas with low connectivity.

The objective is to increase the 140,000 facilities to 250,000, or one in nearly every village. It also aims to convert 150,000 post offices into multi-service centres. The vision is that the longest distance a villager or tribesperson should have to travel should be to the nearest CSC.

e-Governance: Reforming Government through Technology

Of all the "pillars" of Digital India, this is the oldest and most mature initiative.

Experts say that almost every e-governance project that India needs has been successfully piloted somewhere in the country. The daunting task for Digital India will be to take successful pilot projects, replicate and scale them up.

e-Kranti - Electronic Delivery of Services

e-Kranti comprises 41 large e-governance initiatives, called "mission mode projects". They span e-education (all schools to get broadband and free wi-fi, as well as MOOCs - Massive Online Open Courses), e-Healthcare and technology for farming, security, financial inclusion, justice, planning and cyber-security.

Information for All

This set of web, mobile and social media platforms aims to connect citizens with the government. It is already well under way, both on social media, and the citizen portal MyGov.in.

But critics say that these digital channels are used mostly in broadcast mode, with Mr Modi responding to very few, filtered, questions, and no criticism, especially from media. His supporters say he uses them to connect directly to citizens, bypassing media.

Electronics Manufacturing

This plan aims for "net zero imports" in electronics, or imports that match exports by value, by 2020.

The plan includes incentives for big chip fabrication as well for mobile and set-top box manufacturers, and clusters and incubators for start-ups.

That's probably the biggest push and global image makeover being attempted by the Modi government, via its "Make in India" campaign launched last year.

Critics of the programme say that the "manufacturing first" focus can slow progress when the objective should be on something else, like education (such as with the UPA government's Aakaash tablet programme).

IT for Jobs

This is a project to train 10 million students from smaller towns and villages for IT sector jobs over five years.

The challenge here is not just the numbers, but quality. The technology sector increasingly finds that the dwindling manpower resources available for its jobs are under-trained and mismatched to its needs.

Early Harvest Programmes

For instance, a new messaging platform for government employees has over 13 million mobiles and 2 million emails in the database; biometric attendance for all central government offices in Delhi, wi-fi in universities and in public locations, eBooks in schools, SMS-based weather information, disaster alerts.

For instance, the project aims to provide secure email as the primary form of communications within the government, and to the outside world.

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