Towards a Digital Future

How has India progressed towards digitalization over the last few decades?

1. India started moving towards its digital future several decades ago, but it has accelerated at a very fast rate in the last few years.

2. In the years 1976-1996, efforts in digitalization in government were largely government focussed (improving efficiency, record keeping and data storage, etc).

3. In 1997, first step towards citizen focused e-governance program was taken.

4. Initiatives in e-governance (that included PPP mode also) in areas like land records, transportation, PDS, etc at the national and state levels were seen.

5. National e-Governance Plan and the Common Services Centres project were started in 2006.

6. Ambitious projects like UID, Passport Seva, etc, were started in period 2004-2013.

7. Number of telecom subscribers increased to 1,000 million over a decade and coverages of broadband, smartphones, etc has grown rapidly.

Where is the potential for Digital Economy?

1. Several initiatives in the digital area by Government of India has attracted global attention.

2. JAM program (Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile) program has benefitted over 200 million people from financial inclusion.

3. The CSC program provides employment to about a million people in rural area.

4. Technologies like Social Media, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, Mobile, IoT, 3-D printing, etc have taken pace.

5. Several start-ups have grown, and IT industry is flourishing in India. They focus on healthcare, agriculture, cyber security, energy, etc.

Which sectors have experienced the impact of Digital Services?

1. Various applications are available in the sectors of healthcare, education, agriculture, financial inclusion, etc.

2. In India healthcare products like Practo, Portea, Lybrate, etc connect doctors and medical professional to patients.

3. E-commerce, transportation, payment wallets, etc are used.

4. In agriculture sector technology helps in precisions farming, early warning of pest attack through AI-powered systems to lower risks and costs while increasing productivity.

What is the way forward?

1. India’s digital economy is estimated to grow to 1 Trillion US $ by 2025 with focussed efforts.

2. Regulatory facilitation and debottlenecking by Government are critical across sectors for rapid progress.

3. Policy and regulation need to be tweaked to enable and not retard digital India.

4. Technology can help in solving various issues in India like poverty, employment, education and skilling, healthcare, increasing agricultural productivity and mitigating risk and financial inclusion.