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This article is written by Prakhar Rathi, currently pursuing B.A.LLB (Hons.) from the Department of Law, Aligarh Muslim University. This is an exhaustive article which deals with the history of digitisation in India.

Introduction

Digitisation is defined as the socio-economic transformation that resulted from the vast adoption of digital technologies to produce, process, circulate information. It has been seen in various nations that digitisation has become a crucial economic driver nowadays as it provides economic growth and creates abundant job opportunities. In the report of the World Economic Forum, it is stated that if there is a rise of 10% in digitisation score of any country, then it would result in 0.75% growth in its GDP per capita. It is also quite evident that since the last two decades India has been on a growth trajectory. 

History of digitisation in India

Digitisation initiated in India around two decades ago when companies with internet websites were considered of great value. This transformation was triggered by a dot com bubble situation when people were blindly investing in the companies which had ‘.com’ in their end. This resulted in a boon for Indian IT companies. Further, the government of India in 2006 planned to bring the initiative of E-governance, however, it was not a very successful trial. With the same Idea to digitize India and to boost the economy, the ‘Digital India’ initiative was launched in 2015. It literally boosted the transformation and transformed almost every aspect of governance. With a view that digitisation can help overcome the physical barriers and the costs, it was introduced in various sectors.

Objectives of digitisation

Digitisation in India is aimed to make India a knowledge economy and to bring good governance for citizens through the coordinated and synchronized engagement of the entire Government. These are as follows: 

1. All highways to have broadband services

The Government has initiated steps to lay national optical fibre network in all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats. Broadband is being laid for rural India and it will be made obligatory to provide communication infrastructure for new urban development. By the end of March 2017, the government has provided nationwide information infrastructure.

2. Easy access to mobile connectivity

Massive steps are being taken to ensure that all villages are covered through mobile connectivity. The main motive is to boost network penetration and cover gaps in all 44,000 villages.

 3. IT Training for Jobs 

The Government to focus on training 10 million people in towns and villages for IT sector jobs in five years Additionally, the project also includes training and preparing of 0.5 million rural IT workforce within five years. 

 4. Manufacturing of electronics

 The government aims to restrict the import of electronics in the next few years. To accomplish this, the government has planned to put up smart energy meters, micro ATMs, mobile, consumer, and medical electronics. 

5. Providing public access to the internet

 The government focuses on providing internet services to villages and post offices in the next few years. Further, it is aimed to make these post offices Multi-Service centres for the people. 

6. E-Governance

The process and delivery of various services of the government have been aimed to make digital through e-Governance with UIDAI, payment gateway, EDI and mobile platforms. School certificates, voter ID cards would be provided online. This would allow faster scrutiny of data and they could avail benefit services of the government for the BOP segment using these identity proofs that are mandatory for all government schemes.

7. E-Kranti

E-Kranti would make it obligatory for every citizen to go digital by planning to provide electronic services to people which are related to health, education, justice, farmers, financial inclusion and security.

8. Global Information 

Engaging social media in a big way to host data online and use these social media platforms for governance is the aim of the government. Making information available by ensuring that even simple information like train schedules etc are available easily to citizens at the click of a button.

9. Taking feedbacks

Government has launched the website MyGov.in for 2-way communication between the government and citizens. People are free to send in their suggestions and comment on various issues raised by the government, like net neutrality. 

10. Early harvest programs

The government aims to provide Wi-Fi facilities in all educational institutions across the country. An email will be made as an essential mode of communication. A Biometric Attendance System enabled by Aadhar will be provided in all government offices where attendance will be recorded online.

Digital India initiative

‘Digital India’ program, an initiative by Hon’ble Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi emerged with the idea to build a transparent, participative and responsive system of governance. It provides a three-tiered agenda, providing necessary infrastructure, digital empowerment to every citizen and corporate governance. By making information accessible digitally, it aims to develop public accountability. In India, the informal economy is very vast in size as in many developing countries, the businesses here are in the unorganized sector and the statistics are not available for major economic decisions. The digital India campaign would provide proactive steps in turning the informal economy into the shape of the organized sector and the further network it to assist by permeating various government programs which would organize the capacity of every sphere of the economy.

Vision Areas of Digital India

 The Digital India programme has three vision areas, which are:

Digital Infrastructure as a convenience to Every Citizen 

A well-connected nation is a prerequisite to a well-served nation. Remotest villages should be digitally connected through a broadband and high-speed internet, which would benefit in providing government services digitally to every citizen, focused social schemes, and financial incorporation can also be accomplished.

Governance and Services on Demand

Sustained efforts have been made by the central and state government at multiple levels to boost the public services in a simplified manner and ease the process of accessing them. Evolution of E-governance in India from networked Government Departments to initiatives that summarise the finer points of Governance, such as service orientation, transparency and citizen centricity.

Empowering citizens digitally

Digital connectivity is a great leveller. The Digital India initiative assures to make India a digitally empowered society by focusing on digital resources, collaborative digital platforms and digital literacy. 

The digital economy in India

The digital economy is considered as the third industrial revolution. Digital revolution which is also known as the Internet of Everything (IoE) or The Internet Economy or, is expected to create new market growth, jobs, opportunities. It is a worldwide network of economic activities enabled by Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). In simpler terms, it is a digital technologies based economy.

Components of Digital Economy

 The three essential components of the Digital Economy are: 

a) e-business infrastructure (hardware, software, human capital, networks, telecoms etc.).

b) e-business (how business is conducted, any process that an organization conducts over computer-mediated networks).

c) e-commerce (transfer of goods, for example when items are sold online).

However, the digital economy is not simply about shifting business transactions from offline to online, it is about enabling economic innovations and transforming the facets of business transactions and interactions.

E-Payments

Bharat Interface for Money-Unified Payment Interface (BHIM UPI), is the fortitude which combines consumers and all banks and is being charged at the beginning of a transaction by many national and international digital programs. PhonePe, Google Pay, Paytm, Amazon pay etc all are setting their marks in the world of digitalization.

Ways of identification as a resident of India

The Government of India brought a policy drive to ensure that no Indian is left without a unique identity. Today, around 99% of Indian adults have an Aadhaar identification number. Further, the government interlinked the identity status system with bank accounts and also with mobile numbers, i.e, JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-mobile phone) trinity. 

How far has digitisation been effective in India

Growth consistently continues to move forward slowly in which public-private partnerships (PPP) play a major role. Development gained in the fields of technology, collaboration, connectivity tools as well as changes in management practice sensitively affect everyday life, indicating the significance of digitisation in every individual’s life. Though, the restricted and limited access to electricity in rural areas remains a major impediment in the further development of digital technology. The mission of making Smart Cities will promote the real estate industry, the construction, the steel and concrete industry as well as the infrastructure sector. ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ brought new opportunities for the technological sector. Foreign companies are investing in India and are setting their plants for manufacturing products which are being sold in this country and are being exported also. The digitisation process has left no untouched areas, but the lack of legal clarity makes a negative impact on some sectors. Due to the political framework, companies like Amazon and Uber had to face many controversies with communal authorities, which is not suitable for business in the digital era.

Pros and cons of digitisation

Pros

There are many advantages that come from digitisation, some of them are:

  1. Accessibility has been limitless and timeless and can be done from anywhere given that the user has permitted access and there is sufficient Internet connection.
  2. Digitisation conserves a huge amount of resources and thus, it is far more eco-friendly.
  3. Interaction and transactions of business have transformed completely making it much easier and beneficial.
  4. Policies and schemes have more reach than ever.
  5. It has Improved Efficiency as a digitalized Smart Factory is more efficient on all fronts.
  6. It has reduced Time thoroughly as customer requests faster and manage throughput efficiently with digitalized systems and strategies.
  7. It has immensely boosted economic growth. 

Cons

There are many cons to digitisation. Some of them are:

  1. There is an issue of authenticity. They are sometimes sceptical because they don’t have a physical base and can be very easily edited.
  2. There is a very hefty cost of implementation.
  3. There is a risk of the system/strategy getting outdated very quickly.
  4. For a physical document, one needs three things; the document, literacy, and light. However, for a digital medium, one needs the hardware, the software, electricity, and a stable Internet connection.
  5. There are online scams which can ruin completely in seconds and even without fault at the one’s end.

Challenges to digitisation

Following are the challenges to digitisation:

  1. One of the primary challenges to digitisation is the missing access to digital technology, especially in rural areas. 
  2. The corresponding absence of knowledge about its use is also one of the major challenges to be mastered. The lack of basic education in many portions of the Indian population cuts back on the possibilities of digitisation.
  3. The use of mobile phones and internet access is rare and even non-existent in rather remote rural areas. Thus, India needs more investment and more attention to be dedicated to its digital infrastructure.
  4. A further hurdle on the way to successful digitisation is the lack of training of government officials who have the responsibility for e-governance. It is evident that some e-governance projects achieve huge success in some parts of India, whereas they completely failed in other regions. Public-private partnerships (PPP) could possibly contribute to enhance the success rate of such projects.
  5. Special attention is required to be paid to data protection, data security and guidelines. While many companies are being invited to invest and contribute their bit to the digitisation process, there are still some tax barriers and inflexible guidelines that need to be improved. 

Conclusion

It is quite evident now that the impact of digitisation is phenomenal on a nation’s economic growth as shown by the quantitative research studies. India can now take advantage of the trail set by the developed countries by learning from their best practices, mature technologies, and markets. This could bring in the much-needed acceleration also in the digitisation programs. The challenge now lies in taking the movement forward with the same speed, developing appropriate econometric methodologies to determine the impact that mass adoption of digital technologies can have on economies and societies and government effectiveness. India’s digital initiatives have already transformed the socio-economic lives of people and will only increase in the days to come.

References


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