Vision of Digital India
The vision of Digital India programme is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
Vision Areas of Digital India
The Digital India programme is centred on three key vision areas:
Vision Area 1: Digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen
A well connected nation is a prerequisite to a well served nation. Once the remotest of the Indian villagers are digitally connected through broadband and high speed internet, then delivery of electronic government services to every citizen, targeted social benefits, and financial inclusion can be achieved in reality. One of the key areas on which the vision of Digital India is centred is “digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen”.
A key component under this vision is high speed internet as a core utility to facilitate online delivery of various services. It is planned to set up enabling infrastructure for digital identity, financial inclusion and ensure easy availability of common services centres. It is also proposed to provide citizens with “digital lockers” which would be sharable private spaces on a public cloud, and where documents issued by Government departments and agencies could be stored for easy online access. It is also planned to ensure that the cyberspace is made safe and secure.
High-speed internet as a core utility
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential of not only bridging the great digital divide in the country (in terms of easy and effective access to ICTs) but also of positively contributing to the growth of the economy, employment and productivity.
The emphasis is on providing high speed internet connectivity across the length and breadth of the country by deploying ICT infrastructure, optical fibre, and last-mile connectivity options offered by wireless technologies in a manner that is affordable, reliable and competitive.
|Focus Area||Intended Outcome|
Broadband for rural areas
Coverage for 2,50,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) by 2016-17
Broadband for urban areas
Virtual Network Operators for service delivery;
National Information Infrastructure
Integration of all core ICT infrastructure built under National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) for greater efficiency and synergy;
Universal access to mobile connectivity
Greater network penetration;
Public Internet Access Programme under National Rural Internet Mission
Coverage for 2,50,000 GPs by 2016-17 through Common Services Centers (CSCs);
Cradle-to-grave digital identity
The ideal identity is one that is unique, singularly sufficient, robust enough to disallow duplicate and fake records, easily and digitally authenticable in an inexpensive manner, and lifelong.
Aadhaar, a 12-digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on behalf of the Government of India, meets these requirements. It is essentially a paperless online anytime-anywhere identity assigned to a resident to cover his/her entire lifetime. The verification of identity is done online with the help of authentication devices which connect to UIDAI’s Central Identity Repository and return a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response to the basic query, “Is the person who he/she claims to be?”, based on the demographic and biometric data available with UIDAI. Aadhaar can be used by any application which needs to establish the identity of a resident and/or provide secure access for the resident to services/benefits/entitlements offered by the application.
MeitY conducted a consultation workshop with various stakeholders in October 2014 to brainstorm on various aspects of how mobile phones can be used as instruments for electronic authentication of individuals’ identities. The key outcome of the workshop and further deliberations was that “digital identity” should imply enabling mobility while establishing a person’s identity. For usage of mobile as an instrument of digital identity, three possible mobile identity solutions emerged:
- mobile number linked with Aadhaar.
- mobile with digital signatures.
- Mobile with voice biometrics (either standalone, or linked to mobile number).
Work is underway to implement the most efficient and effective solution to enable citizens to enjoy the benefits of a mobile-linked cradle-to-grave digital identity.
Participation in digital & financial space through mobiles & banking
Indian telecom sector is the world’s fastest growing telecom sector. The massive and growing penetration of mobile phones in India, especially in rural areas, provides a ready and widespread base for access to and delivery of public services electronically. Data access through mobiles continues to gain popularity, and as on date, around 80 per cent of internet users in India access internet through mobile devices. This holds great promise and potential for e-Governance in general and digital-cum-financial inclusion in particular.
MeitY has launched Mobile Seva, a revolutionary whole-of-government mobile governance initiative, enabling government departments and agencies across the nation to deliver public services to citizens and businesses through mobile devices across various mobile-based channels such as SMS, USSD, mobile apps, and voice/ IVRS.
In the financial space, MeitY has collaborated with NSDL Database Management Limited (NDML) for providing PayGov, a centralized platform for facilitating all government departments and services to collect online payments from citizens for public services. PayGov offers an end-to-end transactional experience for citizens who can opt from various payment options such as Net Banking (65+ banks), debit cards, credit cards, cash cards/ prepaid cards/ wallets, and NEFT/ RTGS, etc.
The 'Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana' has been launched as a national mission encompassing an integrated approach to bring about comprehensive financial inclusion of all the households in the country. The plan envisages universal access to banking facilities with at least one basic banking account per household, financial literacy, access to credit, insurance and pension facility. It also envisages channeling all government benefits to the beneficiaries’ bank accounts.
A special track on “mobile as an instrument of financial inclusion” was organized during the mobile identity brainstorming consultation workshop conducted at MeitY in October 2014. The workshop and further deliberations brought to fore that the extensive distribution networks of telecom service providers as well as the actual coverage and connectivity provided by them have the potential of addressing the challenges facing smooth functioning of banking services in rural areas, such as availability of power, cash management, security and adequacy of cash-in/cash-out points. Mobiles can serve as a viable and effective complementary channel for financial inclusion.
Easy access to a Common Service Centre (CSC)
Implemented under the NeGP formulated by MeitY, the CSCs are ICT-enabled front-end service delivery points (kiosks) at the village level for delivery of government, financial, social and private sector services in the areas of agriculture, health, education, entertainment, banking, insurance, pension, utility payments, etc.
CSCs operate within a public-private-partnership (PPP) model and a 3-tier structure consisting of the CSC operator (known as the Village Level Entrepreneur or VLE), the Service Centre Agency (SCA) for establishing CSCs in a zone consisting of a few districts, and a State Designated Agency (SDA) for managing the implementation in the State. CSCs enable government, private and social sector organizations to align their social and commercial goals for the benefit of the rural population in the remotest corners of the country through a combination of IT-based as well as non-IT-based services.
The initial target was to establish 1,00,000 CSCs in 6,00,000 villages in the ratio of one CSC for every 6 villages. As on date, more than 1,37,000 CSCs are operational across the country. Under the proposed CSC 2.0 programme, it is planned to increase the number of CSCs to 2,50,000 (covering all panchayats) to facilitate easier access to CSCs for the citizens.
Current scenario for a villager without easy access to a CSC
Shareable private space on a public cloud
Easy and authentication-based access to a digital locker, i.e. a shareable private space on a public cloud, can greatly facilitate paperless transactions. Citizens can digitally store Government-issued digital documents and certificates and share them with various agencies without having to submit or send physical documents or copies.
How Digital India initiative will impact:
The digital locker would have a collection of repositories (digital repository) for issuing authorities (issuer) to upload their documents (electronic document) in a standard format. Personal locker provided to citizens would also act as a platform for storing the links (termed as Document URI) for accessing the documents directly from these repositories. This platform would enable the citizens to securely share their documents with the service providers who can also directly access public documents from the issuing authority through an authenticated route.
To accelerate the delivery of cloud-based services, MeitY has launched the MeghRaj Cloud initiative. This would comprise several central and state clouds built on existing or new (augmented) infrastructure, following a set of common protocols, guidelines and standards issued by Government of India. MeitY has also issued two policy reports, “GI Cloud Strategic Direction Paper” and “GI Cloud Adoption and Implementation Roadmap” for encouraging adoption of cloud based services.
Safe and secure cyber-space
Cyberspace is where all online digital assets, protocols, identities etc. reside and interact and transact. It is imperative that cyberspace be made safe and secure for all organizations and users.
The National Information Security Policy has been put in place to protect information and information-infrastructure in cyber space, build capabilities to prevent and respond to cyber threats, reduce vulnerabilities and minimize damage from cyber incidents through a combination of institutional structures, people, processes, technology and cooperation.
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (ICERT/ CERT-In) of MeitY hosts a comprehensive “secure your PC” portal at ( http://www.cert-in.org.in/secureyourpc.in/ SPC_colored_English/large/index.html ) with guidelines and measures for users against risks and threats. Further, a National Coordination Centre on Cyber Security has been proposed as one of the key projects under Digital India to provide safe and secure cyber space.
Vision Area 2: Governance and services on demand
Over the years, a large number of initiatives have been undertaken by various State Governments and Central Ministries to usher in an era of e-governance. Sustained efforts have been made at multiple levels to improve the delivery of public services and simplify the process of accessing them. E-governance in India has steadily evolved from computerization of Government Departments to initiatives that encapsulate the finer points of Governance, such as citizen centricity, service orientation and transparency.
The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was approved in 2006 to take a holistic view of e-governance initiatives across the country, integrating them into a collective vision. Around this idea, a massive countrywide infrastructure reaching down to the remotest of villages is being developed, and large-scale digitization of records is taking place to enable easy and reliable access over the internet. The ultimate objective was to make all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man".
Six elements are crucial for ensuring that governance and services are made available on demand to all citizens and other stakeholders in the country.
Seamlessly integrated services across departments or jurisdictions
Access to some services often also involves documents, approvals and clearances from authorities outside the department/ jurisdiction providing the service. Today, the focus is on providing single-window access to such services so that the citizens and businesses save time and effort across multiple departments or jurisdictions concerned. This is exemplified by the e-Biz and e-Trade projects under the NeGP. In order to provide integrated services, MeitY has notified e-governance standards (available at https://egovstandards.gov.in/). Further, Open API and Open Source policies are also being finalized by MeitY. The API policy sets out the Government’s approach on the use of open APIs to promote software interoperability for all e-governance applications and systems and provide access to data & services for promoting participation of citizens and other stakeholders. Also, common platforms like MeghRaj Cloud Platform, Mobile Seva, PayGov and eSangam have been established by MeitY for the Departments and States for the purposes of interoperable and integrated services.
Services available in real time from online & mobile platforms
The focus today is on designing e-Governance applications in such a way that the related information, services and grievance-handling mechanism are accessible online on a real time basis and across all types of access devices such as desktop computers, laptops, tablets, mobiles, etc.
To ensure provisioning of high speed broadband connectivity at panchayat level, the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) project is being implemented by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). This aims to resolve the connectivity issues by taking gigabit fibre to all the panchayats in the country.
The Mobile Seva project of MeitY is a highly successful project that provides a common national platform to all Government departments and agencies at the central, state and local levels for providing mobile based services and mobile apps. Over 1900 government departments and agencies across the country are using the mobile platform for mobile enabled services. This initiative has won the 2014 United Nations Public Service Award. Mobile Seva is a winner at United Nations Public Service Awards (2014) under the category “Promoting Whole-of-Government Approaches in the Information Age”. It is the only winner from India in 2014.
Difficulty in availing government services due to lack of internet connectivity.
Use of mobile phone or laptop would help in checking the status of entitlements, bank account details, etc.
Access to internet and focus on digital literacy will also help citizens aspire for better jobs and improved quality of life.
Text books will be available in the form of e-books which can be downloaded on laptops.
Citizens may avail government and private services from home by accessing the software applications through internet.
All citizen entitlements to be portable and available on the cloud
The flexibility, agility, cost effectiveness and transparency offered by the cloud technologies should be considered while designing and hosting of applications. In order to utilize and harness the benefits of Cloud Computing, Government of India has embarked upon an ambitious initiative – “GI Cloud” which has been named as ‘MeghRaj’. The focus of this initiative is to accelerate delivery of e-services in the country while optimizing ICT spending of the Government.
The cloud platform can host online repositories for all possible entitlements thereby providing a single source of truth. This includes areas like Public Distribution System, BPL entitlements, social sector benefits, LPG and other subsidies, etc. The platform can enable automated registration, maintenance and delivery of citizen entitlements under several government schemes. This will provide delivery for these entitlements on an anywhere, anytime basis. A citizen moving to a new place shall not lose his/her entitlements and will not have to go through a lengthy process to register and supply documents afresh to continue getting the benefits. The plan is to leverage the cloud platform for addressing the portability issue towards ensuring continuity of citizen entitlements across the entire country.
A major milestone was achieved in October 2014 with the launch of provident fund portability through the Universal Account Number (UAN). Employees now need not worry about transferring the funds lying in their provident fund accounts when they change their locations.
Digitally transformed services for improving ease of doing business
Starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency and other clearances etc. are the various experiences that define how easy or difficult it is to do business in a country. Government services for businesses shall be digitally transformed for improving Ease of Doing Business in the country.
The existing MMPs under the NeGP shall be strengthened using latest tools and technologies:
The e-Biz project provides integrated services across various central and state departments/ agencies through a single window mechanism to all businesses and investors for setting up a commercial enterprise.
The ‘MCA21’ MMP aims at providing electronic services for statutory requirements and other business related services.
The e-Trade MMP facilitates foreign trade in India by promoting effective and efficient delivery of services by various regulatory/ facilitating agencies involved in foreign trade, to enable traders to avail online services from these agencies.
Making Financial Transactions Electronic & Cashless
Electronic payments and fund transfers have the advantage of targeted and direct delivery to the intended beneficiaries without the involvement of middlemen who may otherwise subvert the system. Similarly, online mechanisms for payment of fees for certain public services offer a transparent, friendly and expeditious channel to citizens for payments. All financial transactions above a threshold shall be made electronic & cashless.
MeitY has created PayGov India as a centralized payment gateway for all Government Departments and agencies in the country. It is operated and maintained by NSDL Database Management Ltd (NDML), a wholly owned subsidiary of National Securities Depository Limited (NSDL).
PayGov India is securely integrated with National and State Service Delivery Gateways (NSDG and SSDG) to enable sharing of information across databases for efficient service delivery, and also with the Mobile Services Delivery Gateway (MSDG) under Mobile Seva. The citizens can choose from a host of e-payment options such as Net banking, credit card, debit card, prepaid/ cash card/ wallet, Immediate Payment Service (IMPS) and mobile wallet.
Leveraging Geospatial Information System (GIS) for decision support systems & development
Various government services can be offered in a better way by proper use of GIS technology in the e-governance applications. National Geospatial Information System (NGIS) is being implemented to integrate geo-spatial data available with a number of organizations such as Survey of India, National Informatics Centre (NIC), NRSA and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) to develop a GIS platform for e-Governance applications.
This GIS platform will be leveraged as a service for the benefit of various mission mode projects and other e-governance initiatives. NGIS can also be leveraged for monitoring the physical progress of projects, disaster management and specialized needs of public safety agencies.
Vision Area 3: Digital empowerment of citizens
Digital connectivity is a great leveller. Cutting across demographic and socio-economic segments, Indians are increasingly connecting and communicating with each other through mobile phones and computers riding on digital networks. The Digital India programme itself promises to transform India into a digitally empowered society by focusing on digital literacy, digital resources, and collaborative digital platforms. This also places emphasis on universal digital literacy and availability of digital resources/services in Indian languages.
Universal Digital Literacy
Digital literacy assumes paramount importance at an individual level for truly and fully leveraging the potential the Digital India programme. It provides the citizens the ability to fully exploit the digital technologies to empower themselves. It helps them seek better livelihood opportunities and become economically secure.
The focus today is on making at least one person e-literate in every household. Core ICT infrastructure set up by the central and state governments, such as CSCs, can play a critical role in taking digital literacy to the remotest locations of the country. To ensure that all panchayats in the country have high-speed connectivity, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has established Bharat Broadband Network Ltd. (BBNL) to roll out the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN). BBNL will lay out the optic fiber cable terminating in each of the 2,50,000 gram panchayats in the country, providing 100 Mbps link to be used as information highway by all the stakeholders to ensure that digital inclusion reaches all villages across the country. This will ensure digitization and connectivity of the local institutions, such as panchayat office, schools, health centres, libraries, etc. The industry has also come forward to support the e-literacy goal through the National Digital Literacy Mission.
National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT), an autonomous society under MeitY, has identified more than 5000 facilitation centres across the country for training on courses which will equip a person to undertake e-Governance transactions through computers and other basic activities, like e-mail, browsing the internet, etc. NIELIT has also signed MoUs with industry partners towards jointly conducting courses and online examinations on digital literacy.
Universally accessible digital resources
Digital resources are truly universally accessible when they are easily available and navigable everywhere and by everyone. Open resources have the advantage of being widely and inexpensively available and also being widely usable and customizable. Digital resources created or implemented along these lines can be accessed everywhere compared to resources developed from proprietary systems. Owner departments and agencies have the responsibility of ensuring that their digital resources are of high quality so that access and customization are not problematic.
The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) requires government organizations to proactively release their datasets in an open format. Implementation of NDSAP in India is being done by NIC, an agency of MeitY, through the Open Government Platform for India (http://data.gov.in) which provides a single point access to all the open-format datasets published by different government departments. MeitY is also formulating a policy on open APIs to make all the data and information provided by government organizations open and machine readable, which can then be consumed by other e-governance applications/ systems and the public. MeitY is responsible for setting up the API standards and designing a gateway for seamless sharing of information amongst the various government agencies.
Digital resources are as useful as the manner in which they are rendered on the users’ devices, which may be mobile phones, tablets, computers, or other devices. These devices, while all able to access sites where digital resources are available, may be based on varying support standards and also may or may not support differentiated styles of content presentation and layout. In such cases, the content may not be rendered correctly on all devices. Conformance to MeitY-notified standards for government data and application of the necessary style sheets and other server side solutions can help owner departments and agencies achieve this aspect of universal accessibility of their digital resources.
Under the Digital India programme, the government is also committed to providing access to digital resources for citizens with special needs, such as those with visual or hearing impairments (which may be partial or complete), learning or cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities which hinder operation of ubiquitous access devices such as phones, tablets and computers.
All documents/certificates to be available on cloud
Citizens should not be asked to provide government documents or certificates, which are already available with some department/institution of the government, in physical form. Portability of all electronic documents should also be ensured. As an example, educational institutions should ensure that all their degrees and certificates are digitized and kept in online repositories with appropriate access protocols. The citizen, while filling some application form, should not be asked to submit the certified copies of his/her educational certificates but should provide details of these certificates available in an online repository which can be seen by the agency concerned using the pointer provided by the citizen. All these repositories of all government issued documents/certificates should be hosted on a cloud platform to provide a single source of truth for these documents/certificates. The data may include categories such as digitally signed educational certificates, land records, driving licenses, permits, etc. Requesting departments or users may be provided authenticated access to the digital repository available over the cloud.
Availability of digital resources/ services in Indian languages
India has a remarkable diversity in terms of languages written and spoken in different parts of the country. There are 22 official languages and 12 scripts. Knowledge of English is limited to a very small section of the population in the country. The rest often cannot access or comprehend digital resources which are available mainly in English.
MeitY has initiated the Technology Development for Indian Languages (TDIL) programme for developing information processing tools and techniques to facilitate human-machine interaction without language barriers, creating and accessing multilingual knowledge resources, and integrating them to develop innovative user products and services. The programme also promotes language technology standardization through active participation in international and national standardization bodies such as ISO, UNICODE, World-wide-Web consortium (W3C) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) to ensure adequate representation of Indian languages in existing and future language technology standards.
MeitY has also initiated the Localization Projects Management Framework (LPMF) to help localize applications under the MMPs and other government applications. MeitY is also formulating a new mission mode project named as e-Bhasha to help develop and disseminate digital content in local languages to India's largely non-English speaking population. The disabled friendly content and systems are being developed as per accessibility standards.
Collaborative digital platforms for participative governance
Traditionally, digital platforms have been used for dissemination of information and provision of services to the users. Through these platforms, Government could establish communication with the citizens though it was mostly one-way. Digital platforms, with necessary thrust from developments on technology front, have come of age and can now facilitate government departments to have effective two-way communication and interaction with citizens. Platforms that are more collaborative facilitate greater participation from the users. Instead of reaching out to citizens every now and then, government can be in touch with them round the clock through digital platforms which would facilitate participative governance.
The platform would provide a mechanism to discuss various issues to arrive at innovative solutions, make suggestions to the government, provide feedback on governance, rate the government actions/policies/initiatives, and actively participate with the government to achieve the desired outcomes.
MeitY has recently launched a nationwide digital platform named as “myGov” (www.mygov.in) to facilitate collaborative and participative governance. MeitY also maintains a social media page highlighting e-governance services being provided through NeGP at https://www.facebook.com/OfficialDigitalIndia which has over 2 lakh fans and followers as on date.