Government’s vision of a digitally empowered and technologically strong India has seen the country make rapid advancements in the last 5 years. The value of E-government is increasingly being defined by its contribution to the development for all using benchmarks such as citizen-centricity, inclusiveness, connected government, universal access, and use of new technologies.
From widespread use of digital platforms to extend the benefits of welfare schemes, the country has witnessed change heretofore unseen.
The Digital India campaign is a robust example of efforts to fast track citizens’ access to government services and welfare schemes through improved online infrastructure and enhanced internet connectivity.
The National Digital Communications Policy 2018 is a key pivot of the Digital India campaign. The policy aims to enable the creation of digital infrastructure and services that are increasingly emerging as key enablers and critical determinants of a country’s growth and well-being. Universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen and 1 Gbps connectivity to all gram panchayats by 2020 figure at the top of the government’s agenda.
The government has invested a lot of efforts and resources to build the infrastructure required for the digital transformation. Optical fibre cable coverage increased from 7 lakh km in 2014 to 14 lakh km in 2018 while broadband connection and internet coverage rose to 412 million in 2018 (61 million in 2014) and 446 million in 2018 (251 million in 2014) respectively. (*Govt of India)
Reaping the benefits
The government’s vision of a socially, financially and digitally inclusive society has resulted in the opening up of over 3 lakh Common Service Centers (CSCs) covering 2.15 lakh gram panchayats. CSCs are the access points for delivery of essential public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services, apart from a host of B2C services to citizens in rural and remote areas of the country. About 52,000 women village level entrepreneurs including 30,000 from the SC/ST communities, man the CSCs.
Digital is the cornerstone of the government’s efforts to increase transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement. Over 6 lakh transactions with a gross merchandise value of over Rs10,000 crore have been transacted on the GEM online platform. The GEM online platform, a digital e-commerce portal for procurement and selling of goods and services required by various government departments/organisations/ PSUs.
eNAM (National Agriculture Market) platform, a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities, has so far integrated 585 markets across 16 states and benefitted over 93 lakh farmers.
Empowerment through Financial Inclusion
Direct Benefit Transfer, provides benefits to the citizens instantly and directly into their bank account without a single intermediary, thus focusing on better targeting of beneficiaries.
Numbers prove the success of the government’s strategy. A total of Rs 6.21 lakh crore have been disbursed through Aadhaar based DBT to beneficiaries of 438 government schemes, leading to saving of over Rs 1.1 lakh crore in last 4 years by removing factitious claimants.
Over 915.23 million transactions have been made through the BHIM UPI payments in FY2017-18 (17.87 million in FY2016-17). There has been a commensurate growth in the value of digital payments too; from Rs 695 crore in FY2016-17, it increased to Rs10,983 crore in FY2017-18.
The efforts of government have jumpstarted India’s technological advancement which will add critical momentum to the country’s development.