The Nine Pillars of Growth of Digital India

Digital India aims at three thrust areas of infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, governance and services on demand and digital empowerment of citizens.  It further intends to provide thrust through nine pillars of growth areas viz., broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public internet access programme, e-governance by reforming government through technology, e-kranti (NeGP 2.0) through electronic delivery of services, information for all, electronics manufacturing with a target of net-zero imports, IT for jobs and some early harvest programmes as depicted in the following illustration.

The Nine Pillars of Digital India

First Pillar – Broadband Highways

In the rural areas, the broadband highways would be implemented through Department of Telecommunications (DoT); with a capital expenditure of Rs. 32,000/- crores. The rural broadband highways intend to cover 250,000 Gram Panchayats of which 50,000 would be covered in the first year while 100,000 each would be covered in the next two years.

In the urban areas, focus would be on changing rules towards efficient development of the respective broadband highways. This would be achieved by developing Virtual Network Operators for service delivery along with mandating communication infrastructure in new urban development and buildings. The National Information Infrastructure would be put into practice within a time-frame of two years by integrating SWAN, NKN, and NOFN. Implemented through DeitY, it would have nationwide coverage at a cost of Rs. 15,686 crores.

Second Pillar – Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity

The ongoing programmes in the area of access to phones would be focused towards increasing network penetration and coverage. Universal access to mobile connectivity would be implemented through Department of Telecommunications (DoT); with a capital expenditure of Rs. 16, 000/- crores and coverage of about 42,300 villages uncovered so far.

Third Pillar – Public Internet Access Programme – National Rural Internet Mission

Here, CSCs would be made viable through multi-functional end-points for service delivery through Gram-Panchayats. Implemented through DeitY, it would cost of Rs. 4,750 crores to increase the present reach of 130,000 to 250,000 villages.

In long run, the Post Offices would be converted into Multi-Service Centers.  Implemented through department of posts (D/o Posts), it intends to cover 150,000 post offices within a span of two years.

Fourth Pillar – eGovernance: Reforming Government through Technology

Government would take up Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) using IT to improve transactions including form simplification and reduction, online applications and tracking, developing interface between departments, use of online repositories like school certificates and voter identity cards, integration of services and platforms like UIDAI, payment gateway, mobile platform and EDI.

Further, all databases and information would be made through electronic medium going away from the existing manual mode. Focus would also be on workflow automation inside government systems. Public Grievance Redressal would be automated using IT so as to analyse data to identify and resolve persistent problems, largely process improvements. These measures which are critical for transformation would be implemented across government.

Fifth Pillar – eKranti: Electronic Delivery of Services

The present ongoing programme (NeGP) would be revamped to cover various elements to bring eKranti. This would include fostering technology in the areas of planning, agriculture, education, health, financial inclusion, justice and security. The technology for planning would include GIS based decision making and National GIS Mission Mode Project.

In the domain of agriculture, development of technology for farmers would result into real-time price information, online ordering of inputs (e.g. fertilizers) and online cash, loans, relief-payments along with development of mobile banking. In the domain of education, some of the measures that would be taken include connecting all schools with broadband, free Wi-Fi in about 250,000 schools, digital literacy program and development of pilot massive online open courses.

Bringing-in technology in the domain of health would include online medical consultation, online medical records, online medicine supply, and pan-India exchange for patient information; to be realized within a span of next three years. Financial inclusion technology would include Mobile Banking, Micro-ATM program and revamping CSCs/ Post Offices. Development of technology for justice would include e-Courts, e-Police, e-Jails and e-Prosecution while, technology in the domain of security would include developing National Cyber Security Co-ordination Center along with Mobile Emergency Services.

Sixth Pillar – Information for All

The pillar of ‘information to all’ would encompass making information online and hosting websites and documents. This would result into an easy and open access to information by the public in general along with development of open data platforms. As usual, the Government would pro-actively engage through social media and web based platforms to inform citizens. The platform ‘MyGov.in’ would foster 2-way communication between citizens and government. Also, it would enable sending online messages to citizens on special occasions/programs.

Seventh Pillar – Electronics Manufacturing: Target NET ZERO IMPORTS by 2020

In India, the existing structure needs strengthening in order to boost electronic manufacturing; the target being ‘NET ZERO Imports’ in this domain in the days to come. This would be an ambitious goal which would require coordinated action on many fronts like taxation, incentives, economies of scale, and eliminate cost disadvantages.

The areas under focus would include items like FABS, Fab-less design, Set top boxes, VSATs, Mobiles, Consumer & Medical Electronics, Smart Energy meters, Smart cards and micro-ATMs. At present, there are many ongoing programs in the domain of electronic manufacturing which will be fine-tuned with measures such as development of incubators, clusters, and focus on skill development along with measures such as Government procurement.

Eighth Pillar – IT for Jobs

The objectives of this pillar is to train people in smaller towns and villages for IT sector jobs, setting up of BPO in each of the North-East State in order to foster ICT enabled growth, train service delivery agents to run viable businesses delivering IT services, and to train rural workforce to cater to their own needs and hence create a telecom ready workforce. These initiatives would be implemented mainly through DoT and DeitY.

Ninth Pillar – Early Harvest Programmes

Some of the immediate measures which can be realised soon are covered in this pillar of ‘early harvest programmes’. These would be the measures such as creating IT platform targeted to elected representatives along with all the Government employees covering 1.36 Crore mobiles and 22 Lakh emails through development of a mass messaging application. Other measures would primarily include technological improvements such as Government greetings would now be e-Greetings, implementation of biometric attendance in all government offices, Wi-Fi in all universities, secured emails within government,  standardized government email design, public Wi-Fi hotspots, school Books to be eBooks, SMS based weather information, SMS based disaster alerts and a national portal for lost-&-found children.

Acronyms

  • ATM: Automated Teller Machine
  • BPO: Business Process Outsourcing
  • BPR: Business Process Reengineering
  • CSC: Common Services Centers
  • D/o Posts: Department of Posts
  • DeitY: Department of Electronics and Information Technology
  • DIAG: Digital India Advisory Group
  • DoT: Department of Telecommunications
  • EDI: Electronic Data Interchange
  • ICT: Information and Communication Technology
  • NeGP: National e-Governance Plan
  • NKN: National Knowledge Network
  • NOFN: National Optical Fibre Network
  • SDC: State Data Centres
  • SMS: Short Message Service
  • SWAN: State Wide Area Networks
  • TSPs: Telecom Service Providers
  • UIDAI: Unique Identification Authority of India
  • VSAT: Very Small Aperture Terminal
  • Wi-Fi: Wireless Fidelity

Reference

DeitY, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India (Available at – https://negp.gov.in/pdfs/DigitalIndia.pdf)