digital india


Digital India, a campaign introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 2nd, 2017, was a Government of India initiative to ensure the availability of government services to the citizens of the country, electronically. It also focused on increasing the channels of internet connectivity and building a digitally empowered society in the field of technology. “Faceless, Paperless, Cashless” is one of the professed roles of Digital India, as stated by the GOI.

While the country progressed towards a more cashless society as a direct consequence of demonetisation, its monetary implications and resultant outcomes still plague the minds of skeptics. Economic development across all sectors of the economy has been the government’s foremost agenda and it has come up with various schemes and rewards to incentivise the appropriation of a digital society.

One of the biggest motivations to switch to a digitalised economy is the ease of transactions that it has to offer. The need to carry heavy wads of cash in hand and the subsequent travelling that follows, are a major cause of inconvenience and distress to the potential customers. However, in the present framework, the physicality ceases to exist and paves way for constructive benefits.

Discounts are another attraction amongst people of all classes. It is the universal denominator of satisfaction for a rational customer, looking forward to barter transactions. The recent waiver of service tax on card transactions, along with a couple of price concession schemes and rebates has been introduced by the GOI to make digital transactions seem more lucrative.

Mobile wallet companies like Paytm offer rewards and loyalty benefits, both of which are inward benefits which help in increasing the cash flow considerably. ICICI Bank facilitates the issue of PAYBACK points to its customers on online shopping. PAYBACK is a customer loyalty program which helps its buyers earn reward points on their shopping across different product categories. It is the largest multi-brand loyalty program in India and provides its benefit across leading retail websites like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Jabong and others when they go Via PAYBACK through their website or application. In addition to these, it also provides its audience with a reasonable variety of redemption options to choose from.

Whilst the people have a lot of monetary compensation to link themselves to when dealing in the digital currency, a plethora of non-monetary benefits follow. Online transactions have a better chance at being systematised as against regular transactions. People will find it a lot more convenient to keep a record of their spending and sequentially, it will result in better budgeting.

Online transactions pose a lesser threat in terms of loss of cash. If lost, a card or mobile wallet can be blocked almost instantaneously but it is nearly impossible to do the same when hard cash is in question. Therefore, it is a relatively safer option and also obviates the hassle of dealing with heavy currency and change.

Needless to say, the digital age is a revolution in itself and we can be sure of its steady percolation to all strata of the society, given the untiring efforts of the government to accredit the campaign through its impeccable implementation.


Feature Image Credits: The Indian Express


Lakshita Arora

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While an ambitious project in itself, the digitisation scheme of the current government is too far-fetched to be completed by 2019, without getting the basics of a fast and efficient cross-country wifi network in place first.

2016 truly gave India a chance to revamp the global lexicon. We came up with our own brand early on—‘Digital India’—and followed it up in the same breath with the inclusion of hefty words such as ‘demonetisation’ and ‘digitisation’. It is all tied to global stardom for the country, a power from above assures us. All this while we fret over our obsolete smartphones and try to find a way out of the maze of payment-related apps being launched every day. The whole of it (constantly amplified by news channels as a fiasco) takes place against the backdrop of Reliance’s Jio confidently announcing the rollback of its free wifi services post March, 2017. India is well and truly on the global platform now. It just has a slight limp.

The premise of digitisation rests singularly on our access to fast and affordable wifi connectivity. While Eastern Europe and countries like Lithuania boast of some of the highest broadband speeds, South Korea passed the hundred per cent wifi penetration mark way back in 2012. These are significant red blinkers for India. It still considers any modest speed above 512 kbps to be ‘broadband’. In other countries, this speed is as high as 10 to 50 mbps. However, an increase in speed and connectivity cannot be achieved overnight. It will involve a complete renovation of the cross-country network of expensive optic fibre pipes which haul the bits and in turn provide the speed. The demand is not just for ‘free’ wifi but efficient wifi.

CP has turned out to be the prime example of things going awry for a scheme which aspires to connect over 2,00,000 villages by 2019. The ground reality is mired in municipality disputes. Despite floating tenders multiple times, the authorities have not heard from respondents for a project which would have made the high-end hangout hub a fully wifi-enabled zone. For now, it’s back to expensive data packs for those of us who can splurge two hundred bucks a month for basic speed. For others, at the moment, even the thought of shelling out a four figure sum for a mobile phone sounds like a nightmare.

Image Credits: Postbazaar.in

Deepannita Misra

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Acharya Narendra Dev College, University of Delhi, is undertaking an inter-disciplinary innovation project entitled “Digital India: Challenges & Opportunities” under the aegis of University of Delhi. The project team comprises of mentor, faculty and students. The project mentor is Professor Monica Singhania from Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi. While the faculty involved is Dr. Sunita Narang from Department of Computer Science, Dr. Surinder Kaur and Dr. Shalu Mahajan from Department of Commerce are also a part of the team. There are five students from Department of Computer Science and five from Department of Commerce.

The team is working on 9 e-services under the project viz. MyGov, e-Sign, DigiLocker, e-Basta, e-Scholarship, e-Hospital, Biometric Attendance System, Jeevan Pramaan, and e-Greetings. The project team is examining the awareness of various initiatives taken by Government of India under Digital India programme and the extent to which these initiatives are being utilised by the citizens of India. The project also involves identification of the main barriers/challenges restricting utilisation of e-services under the initiative. It further examines the common complaints of users and suggests measures which need to be incorporated to make the system more user-friendly. Further, to popularize the Digital India initiative the project team is also making an android based mobile App and a website. Also, a Facebook page is being used as a forum for e-debating on the initiative.

Moreover, a few workshops have already been organized under the project to spread awareness about the Government’s Digital India Initiative. On April 11, 2016, the college organized a one-day inter-college Faculty Development Programme in collaboration with Center for Development of Advanced Computing, Pune, on digilocker and e-Sign services. A live demo on use of Digilocker for saving important documents will also be shown.

The program witnessed members of the faculty, academicians and researchers. The resource persons were from the college and Center for Development of Advanced Computing. Gaurav Dwivedi, CEO, MyGov, Deptt. of Electronics & Information Technology, will be the chief guest.

Image Courtesy: educrib.com 

Nidhi Panchal

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For the past few days, internet space in India has turned volatile – with debates, Facebook display pictures and Mark Zuckerberg’s posts. So what really happened to have led to this? Last week, PM Narendra Modi met with a number of top organisation leaders in USA, these included Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google; Tim Cook, CEO, Apple and most importantly, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook. The underlying agenda being to gather support for the Digital India campaign by the Government of India.

Now Mark Zuckerberg went on to show his support for Digital India and linked it to his own project- Internet.org (or Free Basics).

What is Internet.org?

Internet.org or Free Basics is a service which aims to connect regions which have less penetration of internet, reasons for which include lack of infrastructure and high internet tariffs. Internet.org however will only provide access to a certain section of internet which includes services by Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera, Samsung and Nokia.

What about Digital India?

The Digital India initiative seeks to lay emphasis on e-governance and transform India into a digitally empowered society, and this particularly includes connecting Rural India to the internet. It also aims on IT training of rural population, setting up BTOs in North-East India among a lot many things.

Then what in the world is the problem?

The existence of Internet.org is a violation of Net Neutrality i.e. the principle that Internet Service Providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.

Services of some websites like Facebook may be free for a person in a remote village in Chattisgarh, but access to the rest of the internet is not free. Facebook will also keep all his data, monitor his activity and temporarily store his data in unencrypted form. Not only is this a massive privacy violation, but a security threat as well.

To him, the internet will be confined to Facebook and 6 other services. So these websites will become the unprecedented faces of the internet. The telecom brands which team up to provide these services will have a chance to expand simultaneously. So, is this a huge business agenda behind something that poses to be the welfare of people? Seems like it.

As Manu Joseph writes in New York Times, “The goal of Internet.org is to bring cheap Internet to all, as long as they use Facebook.”

Digital India, although will provide you digital services, but will simultaneously find ways for the government to monitor your activity. Again, a case of violation of privacy. Talking about free access of Internet to all Indians, remember internet blackouts in Ahmedabad, Kashmir and Manipur?

Since Mr. Modi and Zuckerberg have, with quite fanfare, declared collaboration between Digital India and Internet.org, the recipe seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Of course, not everything can be commented on as of now; we’ll have to wait how Ministry of Telecom lays out the plans and policies. However, the fact that Net Neutrality is being violated by both the campaigns is a fact that cannot be challenged anymore.