Table of Contents
Digital India Mission
Digital India and Social Inclusion
Digital India Mission and Digital Citizenship
The growth and welfare of a nation depends on the accessibility of its people towards economic resources. The gap between availability and utilization of resources is huge. Rural population (% of total population) in India was reported at 66.86 % in 2016, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators, compiled from officially recognized sources . Efficiently mobilizing their household saving and allocating them effectively to the growing credit requirement of the economy helps in sustainable development of the country . With a major part of India’s population living in rural areas, providing them financial inclusion and security is a vital part of growth and stability. For the estimated 156 million Indian rural households, most living in poverty according to India’s National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), there is need for investment in transportation, power, and internet access to create more employment for women and youth in rural areas . Connecting people and making them a part of development is a mark of efficiency and excellence. Digital India Mission is one such initiative by the government to provide economic and social inclusion for its people. The historic and ambitious new global development agenda recognizes that development will only be sustainable if it is inclusive. In September 2015, world leaders adopted an ambitious global development agenda, envisioning a just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable would be met . Here a brief discussion has been done on (a) Digital India Mission and its implications on social inclusion and (b) India and Digital Citizenship. An analysis has been made on achievements and concerns of Digital India Mission towards Digital Citizenship.
Digital India Mission
Digital India is a campaign launched by the Government of India to ensure that Government services are made available to citizens electronically by improved online infrastructure and by increasing Internet connectivity or by making the country digitally empowered in the field of technology . This campaign was launched on 1st July, 2015 under the leadership of Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The basic motto of this campaign was to empower people and increase the global presence of the nation. The main objective of this campaign was to connect rural areas of the country with high speed internet.
The government in collaboration with Gmail and Rediff made email facility available in regional languages for wider adoption and participation. Digital India consists of three core components : (a) development of secure and stable digital infrastructure, (b) delivering government services digitally, and (c) universal digital literacy. To take India to International boarders, this initiative can be taken as a digital empowering initiative for betterment of the citizens. Government of India specifically targets nine “Pillars of Digital India” as follows :
1. Broadband Highway: Laying of national optical fibre network (NOFN) in all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country will happen in a phased manner.
2. Universal Access to Mobile connectivity: Ensuring mobile access in around 44,000 uncovered villages in the country and government is taking steps to ensure that all villages are covered through mobile connectivity by 2018.
3. Public Internet Access Programme: To expand the coverage of common services centre (CSC) from 1.35 lakhs to 1.5 lakhs, i.e. one in every panchayat.
4. E-Governance: Business process re-engineeering will be undertaken to improve processes and service delivery. Services will be integrated with UIDAI, payment gateway and mobile platform.
5. E-Kranti: E-Kranti focuses on electronic delivery of services whether it is education, health, agriculture, justice and financial inclusion.
6. Global Information: The focus will be on online hosting of data and proactive engagement through social media and web based platforms like MyGov.
7. Electronics Manufacturing: Focus is on set top boxes, VSAT, mobile, consumer electronics, medical electronics, smart energy meters, smart cards and micro ATMs.
8. IT training for Jobs: The government is planning to train one crore students from small towns and villages for IT sector.
9. Early Harvest Programmes: The government is planning to deploy Aadhaar Enabled Biometric Attendance System in all central government offices located at Delhi. A web based application software system will enable online recording of attendance and its viewing by the concerned stakeholders.
Under this program Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan is being implemented with an objective to make 6 crore people of rural India digitally literate. This program has been favoured by multiple countries including US, Japan, South Korea, UK, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Uzebekistan and Vietnam .
Also government has launched 23 new schemes under Digital India :
1. Inauguration of Wi-Fi hotspots at Har ki Pauri, Haridwar and Dargah Sharif, Ajmer;
2. Announcement of Pan India Free Incoming Roaming Facility for MTNL Customers from New Year.
3. Launch of Post-Terminals (Rural ICT – RICT) – handing over Post Terminals to rural Post Masters.
4. Launch of National Centre of Geo-Informatics
5. Launch of e-Payment Portal
6. Launch of Olabs for Schools
7. Launch of Information Security Education and Awareness (ISEA) Phase-II
8. All India BPO Promotion Scheme
9. North East Business Process Outsourcing Promotion Scheme
10. Transfer of Technology for “ICT Centre on Tactile Graphics” at IIT Delhi
11. Announcement of Setting up of NIC Data Centre at Bhubaneswar
12. Initiating empanelment for private cloud Services providers
13. Digital Locker Mobile App
14. Transfer of Text To Speech Technology in 9 Indian Languages
15. Digital India Newsletter – English || 7 Digital India Newsletter – Hindi
16. Special Manpower Development Program for Chips to System Design
17. Launch of ISEA phase 2 programme
18. Announcement of setting up of New STPI Centres
19. ToT “ICT Centre on Tactile Graphics” at IIT Delhi (PH)
20. ToT Digital Programmable Hearing Aid (DPHA)
21. Cyber Security
22. Mobile Towers in Naxalite areas (LWE) in Madhya Pradesh
23. Dedication of 10 lakh connections with Next Generation Network (NGN) capacity
All of these initiatives point at government effort to increase digital literacy and cyber awareness along with channelizing its efforts in the direction of developments in multiple sectors. This has also decreased social exclusion and encouraged social inclusion.
Social inclusion is about overcoming social exclusion and embracing each one of us in the digital platform irrespective of region, country, religion, gender, disability, economic status, appearance, and language.
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Figure 1: Reasons of Social Exclusion (Image Courtesy from Bing)
Social inclusion is defined as the process of improving the terms of participation in society, particularly for people who are disadvantaged, through enhancing opportunities, access to resources, voice and respect for rights . The basic idea behind social inclusion is to leave no one behind. It is about extending policies and providing facilities for social interactions thus distributing resources, facilities and control via digital media. Though social inclusion doesn’t guarantee social integration but it can to a great extent help in voicing opinion and filling e-petitions for betterment. Digital India initiative helped in social inclusion by increasing digital participation of people irrespective of age, race, gender, disability (physical or mental), religion or other status. It removes the barriers and helped in people’s participation in society and government. Digital social inclusion has helped in increasing tolerance and better living.