The Digital India programme was launched by the Government of India in 2015 with the vision of transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The scheme has many initiatives to improve digital infrastructure, provide digital services, and empower citizens through digital literacy.
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One of the critical areas of focus under the Digital India programme is communication. The programme has several initiatives to improve access to and affordability of communication services and promote the use of digital technologies for communication.
It has increased internet penetration, broadband access, and mobile phone usage. It has also made government services more accessible and efficient. Additionally, the scheme has boosted the electronics manufacturing industry’s growth and created new IT sector jobs.
Initiatives under the Digital India programme
The following are some of the key initiatives under the Digital India programme that have transformed the communication landscape in India:
Broadband Highways for Rural India (BharatNet)
A fundamental pillar of the Digital India initiative is the development of robust digital infrastructure. This includes the establishment of the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN), now known as BharatNet, which aims to provide broadband connectivity to rural areas.
According to a study by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) in 2018, the BharatNet project has significantly improved internet access in rural India, enhancing communication capabilities. As of August 2023, BharatNet has connected over 1.6 lakh gram panchayats, providing broadband to over 600 million people in rural India.
Digital Infrastructure for Large Enterprises (DIL)
DIL program provides high-speed broadband connectivity and other digital infrastructure services to large enterprises in India. DIL has helped attract and retain foreign investment in India and boosted the growth of Indian businesses.
Common Service Centers (CSCs)
CSCs are a one-stop solution for government, banking, and other services in rural India. CSCs have played a vital role in improving access to communication services in rural India. As of August 2023, there are over 6 lakh CSCs in India, providing services to over 600 million people in rural India.
eKranti – Electronic Delivery of Services
The eKranti initiative aims to provide electronic delivery of services to citizens. This initiative has led to several online portals and mobile apps that provide citizens with access to government services. Some examples of these portals and apps include the MyGov portal, the Digilocker app, and the UMANG app.
MyGov.in is a citizen engagement platform that allows citizens to participate in the government’s decision-making process. It has also been used to launch several communication initiatives, such as the Digital India Quiz and the BharatNet Manthan.
Digital Locker is a secure online platform where citizens can store government-issued documents. This has made it easier for citizens to access and share their documents with government agencies and other organizations.
e-Sign is a digital signature service that allows citizens to sign documents electronically. This has made it easier for citizens to do business online and to access government services.
Digital Literacy Mission
The Digital Literacy Mission is a program aimed at empowering Indian citizens through digital literacy. The mission has trained over 100 million people in digital literacy since its launch in 2014.
Impact of the Digital India programme
Increased access to communication services
The Digital India programme has helped to increase access to communication services in India. For example, the BharatNet program has provided broadband access to over 600 million people in rural India. Installing Wi-Fi hotspots in public places and providing free internet access to students and the rural population has significantly impacted.
A 2018 study by the World Economic Forum found that the Digital India programme has helped to increase internet penetration in India from 25% in 2015 to 45% in 2018. The study also found that the programme helped reduce the cost of mobile data in India by 80% between 2015 and 2018.
Reduced cost of communication services
The Digital India programme has also helped to reduce the cost of communication services in India. The programme has also made significant progress in increasing mobile phone usage in India.
The number of mobile phone subscribers in India has increased from 890 million in 2015 to 1.2 billion in 2023. This is due to several factors, including the launch of affordable smartphones and the expansion of mobile networks. This has resulted in the reduced cost of mobile data and broadband services.
Increased use of digital technologies for communication
The Digital India programme has promoted the use of digital technologies for communication. For example, the government has launched several digital services, such as the DigiLocker and the Aadhaar-enabled Payment System.
Empowered citizens through digital literacy
The Digital India programme has empowered citizens through digital literacy. The Digital Literacy Mission has trained over 100 million people in digital literacy, which has helped them access and use communication services more effectively.
The Digital India scheme has also created new jobs in the IT sector. The government has launched several initiatives to skill and train youth for jobs in the IT sector. Some examples of these initiatives include the Digital Saksharta Abhiyan and the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana.
A study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that the Digital India programme has the potential to add $1 trillion to the Indian economy by 2025. The study also found that the Digital India programme can potentially create 20 million new jobs in India by 2025.
While the Digital India initiative has significantly transformed the communication landscape, it is not without challenges. Issues such as digital inequality, data privacy concerns, and cybersecurity threats must be addressed to ensure the initiative’s long-term success and to meet the evolving needs of India’s diverse population.