Commerce Dashboard

Digital India

Introduction
In July 2015, the Indian government launched the ‘Digital India’ initiative to improve online infrastructure and increase internet accessibility among citizens (for example, linking rural areas to high-speed internet networks); thereby, empowering the country to become more digitally advanced.

The initiative encompasses the following three key objectives:

  • Establish a secure and stable digital infrastructure
  • Deliver digital services
  • Ensure that every citizen has access to the Internet

The government’s increased focus to create a digitally empowered economy is forecast to benefit all sectors, wherein core digital sectors such as information technology & business process management, digital communication services and electronics manufacturing are likely to double their GDPs to US$ 355-435 billion by 2025.

As per NASSCOM’s (National Association of Software & Services Companies) Strategic Review 2021, India's technology sector was estimated to reach US$ 194 billion in FY21, a 2.3% YoY increase on the back of rapid digital transformation and technology adoption in the country. In 2020, the Indian technology sector accounted for 8% of India’s gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, the sector remained a net employer with emphasis on digital upskilling. NASSCOM also estimated that the country’s digital talent pool is likely to exceed ~1.17 million employees in FY21, a 32% YoY surge.

In another report, McKinsey highlighted that the ‘Digital India’ initiative is expected to boost the country’s digital economy to US$ 1 trillion by 2025, up from US$ 200 billion in 2018.

Need for ‘Digital India’
Despite rising adoption of digital technologies and the IT industry, India’s digital divide is deep and is creating economic disparities between those who can afford technology and those who cannot, thereby affecting the country’s overall digital growth.

To bridge this divide, the government introduced the ‘Digital India’ initiative, covering various programmes such as e-governance, mobile e-health services and digital finance for digital inclusiveness. Through schemes such as Aadhaar (a digital ID programme), BharatNet and public Wi-Fi hotspots, the ‘Digital India’ initiative is enabling the country (including small towns and rural areas) to develop its internet infrastructure. According to McKinsey’s Report, between 2014 and 2018, Uttar Pradesh (recorded >36 million internet subscribers), and Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand were among the five fastest-growing states in internet penetration.

Further, the country’s low mobile data rates have allowed a vast population to access the Internet. As per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, as of September 2020, the total internet subscribers (including wireless and wired internet subscribers) stood at 776.45 million, up from 687.62 million subscribers in September 2019.

 

To implement ‘Digital India Platform’, the government partnered with the following leading technology firms:

  • In 2019, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) collaborated with Google to launch the ‘Build for Digital India’ programme to provide engineering students an opportunity to create market-ready, technology-based solutions.
  •  In January 2021, MeitY collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to establish a quantum computing applications lab in India to accelerate quantum computing-driven research & development and enable new scientific discoveries.
  • The government joined forces with private sector companies (e.g., Amdocs, Cognizant, Cyient, Google, Intel, Microsoft and Zensar Technologies) to establish NDLM (National Digital Literacy Mission) centres and facilitate digital literacy training in India.

Digital India: Key initiatives and progress

Key initiatives under the ‘Digital India’ mission are as follows:

Initiative

Description

Current Status

Aadhaar

It was launched in 2009 to provide every Indian resident with a unique identity or Aadhaar number.

According to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), 129 crore residents of India possess Aadhaar as of April 2021.

DigiLocker

It was launched in 2015 to create a cloud-based platform to issue, exchange and verify essential documents or certificates.

As of April 2021, there are ~60.09 million registered DigiLocker users in India.

MyGov

It was launched in 2014 to bring the government closer to the people by providing an interface (online forum) for exchange of ideas.

As of April 2021, there are >171.51 lakh registered members on MyGov.

BharatNet

It was introduced in 2012 (renamed in 2015) to connect all 250,000 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country and provide 100 Mbps internet connectivity.

As of November 2020, there were ~146,872 service-ready GPs.

Smart Cities

It was initiated in 2015 to transform all Indian cities into smart cities by leveraging various technologies.

100 cities have been selected for area-based and pan-city development between 2019 and 2023.

Common Service Centres (CSCs)

Under the Digital India programme, CSC 2.0 aims to establish a self-sustaining network of 2.5 lakh CSC centres in Gram Panchayats. Was implemented by DeiTY (Department of Electronics and Information Technology).

As of 2020, there were 255,798 active CSC IDs and 687 districts had CSCs in India.

Digitisation of Post Offices

Under the Digital India programme, the government aims to convert ~150,000 post offices into multiservice centres.

As of February 2020, India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) enabled >1.36 lakh post offices to provide banking services, including access to every Aadhaar-linked bank account, at the customer's doorstep, resulting in ~2.5x increase in rural banking infrastructure.

Universal Access to

Mobile

It was launched to provide mobile connectivity to >55,600 villages in India.

As of 2020, ~572,551 villages were provided with mobile and internet connectivity.

Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

It was introduced to develop public Wi-Fi hotspots to allow people to access internet without relying on mobile data.

India's public Wi-Fi hotspots were estimated to increase from 0.3 million in 2019 to 2.1 million in 2021, according to DigiAnalysis.

India Stack

India Stack aims to develop payment-enabled

applications, using Aadhaar as the base for authentication.

The government uses JAM's (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) direct benefit transfers for ~317 services. In FY21, it conducted 2.6 billion transactions, transferring >US$ 46 billion to beneficiaries.

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan (PMGDISHA)

It was launched in 2017 to help people in rural areas become digitally literate. The scheme aimed to cover 6 crore rural citizens by March 2020, achieving ~40% rural households by targeting one member from every eligible household.

As of July 2019, 23,097,324 beneficiaries were registered; of these, 13,491,306 beneficiaries were certified.

 

e-Health

It was introduced to provide timely and effective healthcare services such as online registrations, payments, reports and claims.

As of February 2021, 420 e-Hospitals were established across India.

E-education

It was started to provide online education in remote and urban areas using technologies such as smartphones, apps and Internet services.

In May 2020, the government launched PM eVIDYA, a programme for multimode access to digital/online education.

In FY21, NISHTHA - Phase II was launched at the secondary level to customise modules for online delivery. As per the Union Budget 2021-22, under the NISHTHA training programme, ~ 5.6 million teachers will be trained in FY22.

Digital India Mission – Union Budget 2021-22 Highlights

  • Proposed to develop a world-class fintech hub in Gandhinagar's Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT).
  • Allocated funds worth Rs. 1.15 lakh crore (US$ 15.32 billion) To digitise the Indian Railways.
  • Enabled funds worth Rs. 9,000 crore (US$ 1.20 billion) to compensate service providers for creating and augmenting their telecom infrastructure.
  • Allowed all voters to access their ‘Digital voter ID card’ by linking their mobile number with the election commission’s website from February 01, 2021.

The Road Ahead…
The rising use of unified payments interface (UPIs) strongly indicate that more and more people in India are adopting a digital lifestyle. Moreover, the number of transactions being processed via UPIs reaching 2.73 billion (>2x) in March 2021, up from 1.25 billion in March 2020, highlights that the government's ‘Digital India’ initiative has helped the country achieve significant digital progress.

With the emergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, blockchains and robotics, the government can use these new avenues to further enable digital and technology growth in India. As per a McKinsey report, a digital economy is likely to create 60-65 million jobs by 2025. With the ‘Digital India’ mission, the government is well-aligned to tap this opportunity and create an economic value of US$ 1 trillion by 2025 from the digital economy.