Digital India is an umbrella initiative comprising of several programs which the government believes should help transform India into a connected economy. Many of these programs have been in existence for several years now but have not been able to make much headway. This is evident from that fact that of the Rs1.13tn (US$18bn) capital outlay for Digital India. That said, what’s different now is that the isolated programs have now been brought on a common platform. This should help create both synergies and a greater sense of purpose. Moreover, under the Digital India flag, the Narendra Modi led BJP Government has articulated a clear vision for the digital future of the country. In our view, having the right vision, effective marketing strategy and a holistic approach should increase the chances of success in this endeavor.
What does Digital India entail ?
Digitization is a global phenomenon, but it likely means a little more for India. The intent is to provide comprehensive broadband coverage: through National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN), covering 250K gram panchayats (village elected bodies) by Dec-2016, and all villages by March 2018.
Digitally Empower Citizens through the 4 Pillars
- Access – (a) through smartphones: 100% smartphone penetration by 2019 (20% penetration currently), and (b) common service centres: 250K such centres to be opened in villages by Mar-2017 to provide access to eGovernance services
- Digital Literacy – The target is to have at-least one digitally-literate person in every family, in five years.
- Digital facilities – Cradle-to-grave digital identity, digital lockers (a beta version has already been launched), cloud sharing, electronic signature, WiFi hot spots and e-textbook project among others. Furthermore, the government plans to extend a host of services electronically across a wide spectrum – education, healthcare etc.
- IT for jobs- The govt plans to train 17m people, especially in smaller towns and rural areas, for jobs in IT, telecom and electronics sectors.
Governance reforms by leveraging technology
The govt plans to leverage IT to improve its functioning. This includes – (a) reengineering workflow and business processes to remove decision-making bottlenecks, and (b) increase the ease of doing business in India.
Who benefits from Digital India Initiatives ?
- Telecom operators and tower cos should be the direct beneficiaries: a boost to mobile/ smartphone/ Internet penetration, and voice and data revenues of telcos.
- Government’s push for smartphone penetration should give a fillip to demand for mobile phones. The NOFN project to connect 250K gram should boost optical fiber demand.
- Internet Companies – A quickening in offline to online shift should boost all Internet companies: e-tailers, online travel agents and classifieds companies.
- Adoption of technology across sectors should create significant opportunities for all IT services companies. For example, government’s attempt to embrace IT and re-engineer its business processes should result in business opportunities for IT.