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Request to Readers: Please spend time and effort to educate yourself and others about the Digital India initiative.
Disclaimer: All information stated and images posted are based on the facts collected from the official websites of DeitY and Intel.
Who is Sardar Uncle?
A citizen of India
What do you think about Governance in India?
Sardar uncle says: Corrupt. Citizen-unfriendly. Disorderly. Unethical. Poor systems. Biased. Ill-managed. Lethargic. Careless.
Sardar uncle says: I had to apply for a change in address in my passport. Once I reached the passport office, it took half an hour to locate room no. 11. There was a long queue, which even after three hours of waiting didn’t seem to progress. It’s then I remembered Rao sir who used to work in this office. After two hours of calling, I got to speak to him. He recommended me to meet Mohd bhai. I gifted Rs.100 to bhai and finally reached room 11. After a few minutes of “Not here, go there”, “Not here, go there”, I met the concerned officer. Even before I could finish, she cut me off saying, “submit and go”. I wanted to know if my documents were alright. She sneered at me saying she was busy and that I had to come again in the next week. How humiliating it was?!
Do you think this can be made better?
Sardar uncle says: Impossible!
What do you think about Governance in India now?
Sardar uncle says: Getting better.
Sardar uncle says: I had to change my address in my passport. I registered with the official passport website. I could check all the documents required, from the website. I uploaded them and submitted an online application. I checked the appointment availability status for a passport seva kendra in my city and fixed an appointment. Also, I could periodically track my application status online. On the day of appointment, at the seva kendra, there were officials and sign boards to provide clear instructions. Without hassles, I got the address changed.
Do you know about Digital India?
Sardar uncle says: I’ve heard……..not sure what it is.
What do you think about Governance in India, now?
Sardar uncle says: Versatile. Quick. User-friendly. Easy accessibility. Systematic. Well-structured.
Sardar uncle says: I had a change in my address. I updated with the supporting documents in my unique digital account. All the government-issued IDs as passport, driving license and voter’s ID got the address updated instantly.
How did it happen?
Sardar uncle says: Of course, through Digital India!
As Indian citizens, most of us must have gone through the hardships of the Indian governance, just like Sardar uncle, a few years ago. Over the years, we all have cursed and complained our government calling it corrupt and disordered. Dear fellow citizens, let’s please stop cursing and bless our government instead. Yes, gone are those days of long queues and gifting Rupee notes here and there. Be aware we are now progressing towards a Digital India!
Though India had a robust voice in the global IT sector, the potential of it had not reached the everyday life of a common man until Digital India came into existence. In simple terms, the Digital India initiative is to make government services and information, easily accessible to citizens through the means of technology. With this initiative, people have already begun to integrate with the government departments more conveniently.
What does Digital India (DI) aim to do?
- First of all, Sardar Uncle needs a Mobile or Computer with Internet Connection, isn’t it?
Yes, DI aims to provide digital infrastructure to every citizen which includes high speed internet, mobile phone, bank account, and a unique digital identity in a secured cyber-space.
- Next, Sardar Uncle must know how to use the Computer and Internet
Well, what is the use of government creating such platforms when people are not aware of using mobiles, computers and internet? Hence, people need to be educated on the existence, availability and usage of the digital infrastructure. Providing digital literacy is yet another vision of DI!
- All set now, Sardar Uncle requires the Online Passport Portal
DI’s core vision is to deliver digital services to people. That is, DI intends to replace the older methods of government-related interactions (like booking train tickets, paying EB bills and filing income tax) by newer, faster and easier practices through technology.
All Said, Well Said! But, does Digital India sound Possible?
While several rural villages are still devoid of basic necessities such as toilets, making Digital India possible to every citizen in the country sounds a great challenge to the government. In spite of the challenges, our government envisages to make India completely digitized by the year 2019.
Here are a few positive cues in the recent years that promise this vision.
Yes! Intel makes Digital Literacy Possible!
With invaluable support from brands like Intel, perhaps, we are not too far from making all our people digital literates very soon.
Intel India launched its ‘Digital Skills for India’ program in late 2014. Through this program, Intel aims to support the digital literacy vision of DI. Through mobile apps, learning programs and collaboration with Bharat Broadband Network Limited, Intel hopes to reach five million citizens by the end of 2015.
Mobile App: Intel Learn Digital Skills
The app intends to educate people about the usage of a Tablet through step-by-step instructions and illustrations. Users also learn paying bills, creating email account, learning new skills, entertainment, creating a resume etc.
Mobile App: Intel Education Let’s access
With the help of this app, students and teachers can create projects within the Intel® Education Assessing Projects workspace. Students can also provide self-assessment while teachers can review student assessments.
Intel Teach Program India
This is a professional development program that trains K-12 teachers across India in new teaching practices, in order to empower their students with digital competencies. The program has recorded to have already trained 18 Lakhs teachers in the country.
Intel Learn Program India
This program specifically aims at the youth of the nation to become technologically skilled, thus enhancing the digital literacy rate and help in providing employment and increase our economy as well. The program has so far reached 1.8 Lakhs underserved students.
Intel Higher Education India
This program partners with universities to equip professors and students with new technologies and conduct advanced technological research. 2.35 Lakhs students and 4500 faculty members have seen the benefits of the program till date.
Intel Learn Easy Steps
Intel’s Learn Easy Steps is a free training course offered to government and NGOs. The training aims to train adults in basic computer skills, specifically what is appropriate to their local settings. It has provided training to 38 Lakhs citizens.
E-Governance makes Digital Services Possible!
E-Governance is one of the nine divisions of Digital India. It involves reformation of government practices by incorporating technological aids to deliver efficient services to the citizens.
A few observations of how E-Governance accelerates Digital India
E-Governance has tremendous potential to revolutionize the way public services are provided to the citizens. With the establishment of the National e-Governance plan in 2006, the country has seen a significant change in the accessibility of government services.
Simplification of Form-filling and Reduction of Paper Work
Remember those times when we had to form a queue with the forms in our hands at the railway ticket counters? Feels like a nightmare, isn’t?! IRCTC is one of the most significant amendments made by our government in the recent years. Like IRCTC, for several other services, filling up a service request form is way simple now with e-Governance methods. Difficulties of physical interaction with a government personnel such as commuting to a government office, discrimination by an officer and bribing has become null today. Also, it has reduced a great load of paper work, enhancing speed and accuracy and saving millions of trees every year.
Decrease in Manual Work
For instance, most of the processing work involved in passport issuing is now completed online even before he/she reaches a passport seva kendra. Manual processing of service requests by thousands of government officials is now replaced with computers. It ensures speed and error-free processing, delivering services that are several times more efficient than the manual input and processing.
Availability of Online Repositories
E-Governance is building online repositories for school certificates, voter’s IDs, birth certificates and other national documents. This eliminates the need to carry the hard copy of the documents and also the necessity of preserving them against time and crime.
Payment of fees applicable to several services can now be done through net banking or via credit/debit card. This is a huge relief from visiting payment counters or banks and spending time for cash payment or DD processing.
Transparent Interaction between Government and Citizens
Through the MyGov portal, people can share their opinions, discuss ideas, participate in logo and tagline designing contests and there are yet more huge opportunities to learn and engage with the government.
Workflow Automation within the Government
E-Governance benefits not only the citizens but also the government in many ways. Integrating between departments within the government is now far more easier through online databases and interactions.
My Opinion on E-Governance
With respect to general awareness, political support and funding, e-governance holds a strong stake. The increase in the online transactions is significant, promising a fulfilling Digital India.
However, improvements required in e-governance such as rural area reach, secure cyber laws and human resources development cannot be overlooked.
Making Digital Infrastructure Possible is still in its Early Ways
While broadband highways, universal access mobile connectivity and public internet access programmes are doing their shares in bringing digital infrastructure available to citizens, there is still a long way to accomplish its mission to reach the farthest corners of the country.
My piece of Ideas to Intel and the Government
With Intel expected to launch the ‘Innovate For India Challenge’ this year, I share here, my ideas of innovation, relevant to the DI mission.
DI Devices: Affordable, low-cost devices, specifically designed for government services utility can be made available. The device would include pre-loaded apps for all services, for instance, IRCTC, Pension, Insurance, Passport, Agriculture etc. The ease of use can be made simple, for example, buttons and keys instead of touch screen and must be made available in all Indian languages. The reach of the DI device must be targeted to rural areas, making it available at subsidized rates.
DI Centers: Similar to internet centers, dedicated, government run DI centers can be set up across the country. This will help uninformed citizens to avail digital services through computers, internet connectivity and trained personals at the centers. Also, these centers can act as digital literacy hubs, providing training to underserved people.
DI Volunteers: Volunteers need to be collected to visit villages to spread awareness about the DI initiative. Several services available to farmers and entrepreneurs must be explained and demonstrated to unaware citizens.
The much awaited Intel’s launch of ‘Innovate for Digital India’ Challenge is happening at New Delhi as I update this news here. Intel joins hands with IIM Ahmedabad’s Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), Department of Science & Technology (DST) and MyGov for the #Innovate4DigitalIndia challenge.
The challenge invites aspiring and existing entrepreneurs, innovators, academia, designers, engineers and professionals of varied backgrounds to submit creative ideas of products and solutions that will aid the Digital India initiative. It will be open from April 2015 to January 2016. The chosen ideas will receive support from Intel, DST and CIIE for commercialization such as funding, technical access and mentoring. The Innovation ideas will target two main areas:
- Create the ideal citizen’s device platform, including biometric sensing capabilities, peripherals using other sensors, intuitive user interface, gesture recognition, multilingual support and voice support.
- Deliver eKranti/MyGov applications to accelerate delivery of e-governance services on a mobile platform.
(Updated on 24th April, 2015)
Spread Awareness about Digital India
As Sardar uncle remains unaware of Digital India (in 2015), so are a great percentage of Indian population. As educated citizens, we have the responsibility to be sensitive to such government initiatives and also spread awareness to people who are deprived of internet facilities around us.
I request all the readers to visit the following websites to get a general understanding of the framework of the technological revolution happening in our nation and render their active participation towards a Digital India.