The Indian digital story has evolved based on a stronghold of Information and Communications Technology (ICT), with the foremost aim of making technology “affordable”, “transformative”, and for all.
Steps taken by the Government:
The Government’s initiatives such India, Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), and Government e-Marketplace (GeM) aim to actively transform India into both a knowledge-based economy and a digitally-empowered society.
As less-affluent States leapfrog to catch up with more-affluent States, India’s digital divide has been decreasing rapidly.
Digital adaptation in India:
Seven of the ten States with the fastest growth in internet subscribers have per capita GDP lower than India’s average between 2014 and 2018. Uttar Pradesh alone added 36 million internet subscriptions over this time span, accounting for 12 per cent of India’s total incremental internet subscriptions. Similarly, eight of the top ten States with the most gram panchayats covered by Common Service Centres (CSCs) had a lower GDP per capita than India as a whole.
India has been witnessing a spurt of digital payments owing to increased transparency and accountability in the past few years. As of 29 March 2022, UPI had processed 5.04 billion transactions, which was 11.5 per cent higher in volume than February and around 7.5 per cent higher in terms of the value of transactions processed. Over 2 trillion transactions were processed using the AePS (Aadhaar Enabled Payment System) last year.
Besides ensuring ease of living, technology has several other critical applications in domains such as healthcare. The shortage of doctors, the availability and affordability of pharmaceuticals, and the absence of universally available healthcare are all challenges in Indian healthcare. Continuing with the government’s Digital India initiative, the Prime Minister launched the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission in September 2021 to create a digital health repository for all Indians.
To further the use of technology in medicine, there has been an unprecedented expansion of telemedicine during the pandemic. Till the end of September 2021, around 125 crore remote consultations have been completed under the eSanjeevani portal. Everyday, this facility connects thousands of citizens living in remote areas of the country with doctors from large city hospitals from the comforts of their homes.
“Digital delivery of services” has simplified the manner in which citizens interact with the government, helping them to effectively avail various services and enhance their overall standard of living. CSCs are the world’s largest digital service delivery network, with a broad reach in rural areas up to Gram Panchayat and Block level.
These broadband-connected kiosks with information and communication technologies have been offering citizens a variety of government, private, and social services.
UMANG mobile app
The UMANG mobile app (Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance) is an all-in-one single, unified, secure, multi-channel, multi-lingual, and multi-service mobile app that provides access to high-impact services of various Gol Departments and State governments.
The app has now grown to provide 2039 services and the count is galloping ahead on a real-time basis. Over 3 years, UMANG has reached a level of more than 3.75 crore downloads and 2.5 crore registered users.
Citizens can find government institutions near them, such as mandis, blood banks, and more, at the touch of a button, thanks to the integration of UMANG with Mapmy lndia Maps. Through such efforts, the government has been expanding the basket of services for citizens through deeper technology access.
The UMANG application has already started providing the following functionalities:
Mera Ration: helps users identify and navigate to the nearest Fair Price Shops.
eNam: Through the ‘Mandi Near Me’ service on UMANG, users can identify and navigate to the nearby mandis pointed on the map.
‘Damini Lightning Alerts’ service gives users a visual of nearby places where lightning has struck in the recent few minutes to offer lightning alerts. On the map display, this alert mechanism shows the potential of lightning strikes.
Other key initiatives:
DigiLocker already issues digital copies of Ration Cards and Marriage Certificates for a majority of Indian States. Additionally, DigiLocker is in discussion with Passport Seva for the issuance of Passport to further enhance coverage of citizen services digitally.
Agriculture is another domain where technology finds much relevance, particularly in the Indian context. For Indian farmers, the deployment of ‘Kisan drones’ and the push for technology driven agriculture would be beneficial in ensuring quality produce with procedures in place for regular checks. Agriculture is a key source of income for around 58 per cent of India’s population, making agricultural reforms critical to the country’s development.
The government has identified the value chain for farm produce as a critical area for capital infusion. This would be accomplished by a blended capital fund raised under the co-investment approach, which would be handled by NABARD. This fund would give the required financial capital to agricultural and rural businesses that are just getting started. The use of the state-of-the-art drones for the purpose of spraying fertilisers, and monitoring yield and produce would aid the fanners in producing high-quality yield with reduced levels of labour.
The Union Budget 2022 added much emphasis on greater technological adoption across different segments of the economy such as skill development.
An e-portal for a digital ecosystem for skilling and livelihood known as DESH STACK will aid in skilling, up-skilling, and reskilling, thus, playing a huge role in digitally empowering citizens.
Besides this, the portal will also provide an API-based trusted skill credential, payment, and discovery layers which will be crucial in aiding potential job seekers to find relevant jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.