A year or so ago, India surpassed Japan in the number of Internet users and has now comfortably placed itself at number 3 followed by the United States at number 2 and China at number 1. Undoubtedly, India has a vast population in comparison to most other nations, so a base of 300 million Internet users is not surprising. However, ease of access is mostly restricted to the metropolitan cities and semi-urban regions in the nation. We all recognize the limitless potential of the Internet and several instances around the world have proven how it is a catalyst for social change. Having saturated the densely populated regions with Internet-related amenities, the onus now rightly has shifted to the developing and under-developed regions that have limited, or no access to the Internet.
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi is well aware of how paramount the Internet is as a medium in matters of improving the socio-economic standards of the country at large. I’m sure you are aware of his recent visit to San Jose, California. Silicon Valley giants like Google and Microsoft have given their support to Modi’s Digital India initiative.
What is Digital India?
Digital India is a $15.38 billion project undertaken by the Government of India. The purpose behind the Digital India campaign is to connect rural communities and transform India into a digitally empowered society. The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (deitY) anticipates that this program will have a massive impact on the Ministry of Communication and IT. It is but obvious that the Internet is the crux of it all. But it is more than just that, think of just how versatile the Internet is and the rest will flow. Thus, Digital India is an Umbrella programme that covers many departments. Let’s take a look at the core areas that Digital India is going to have an impact on:
- Infrastructure as a Utility – High-speed internet, A digital identity, safe and secure cyberspace etc.
- Governance & Services on demand – Making financial transactions electronic & cashless, All citizen entitlements to be available on the cloud etc.
- Digital Empowerment of the people – Universal digital literacy, documents & certificates to be available on the cloud, services in Indic languages etc.
Some major projects under Digital India
This program emphasizes on various topics that are of main concern for the Indian society such as unemployment, illiteracy, poverty etc. The government is looking to achieve zero imports of electronics and focus heavily on the mass manufacturing of the same. Public access to the Internet is another goal of this project. In order to help the people belonging to semi-urban/developing regions of the country, there is a heavy integration of optical fibre network being set up which is meant to provide broadband internet service. The government aids to boost employment plans by training and recruiting students belonging to small towns and villages for the IT sector. Another concern of the Digital India program is to help the citizens express their suggestions and opinions by using social media and websites as a platform to get in touch with the Government(eg. MyGov.in).
Global tech giants pledge their support
Companies like Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Google have professed their confidence in the Digital India project. India is a potential market that has lately been blooming in context with the number of Internet-savvy people. The very fact that Modi has their support is going to further help build a rigid foundation for this project. The chief executives have not failed to express their enthusiasm on the same.
Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google says that India is coming online at an unprecedented rate. Google plans to launch:
- Wi-fi hot spots at 500 railway stations across India
- Include 10 Indic languages on the Android OS including Gujarati
Microsoft plans to enable low-cost broadband internet using television white-space(Unused broadcasting frequencies in the wireless spectrum) technology in rural Andhra Pradesh. Qualcomm announced that it will fund Indian start-ups with a $150 million investment.
Where does the Internet industry see itself in all this?
- Increase the number of data centers
- Improvement in the means & access to mobile connectivity
- Increase awareness regarding the Internet
- Prepare to cater to the increasing number of clients
- Offer more reliable data storage facilities & efficient system management platforms
- Pioneer the technological aspect of web hosting provisions; better servers, high-performance computers to handle phenomenal data influx