How Has The Adoption Of Digital Technology Rapidly Transformed Governance In India
Globally, technology has been the most significant facilitator in causing revolutionary changes. India's story is no different. The use of digital technologies to educate and empower citizens is seen in some quarters as a game-changer. In recent years, governance in India across sectors has been redefined through the adoption of technology.
The UN in its E-Government Survey 2020 placed India 100th out of 193 countries in the e-Governance rankings. Digital technology is reshaping the way the government designs and implements various programs. As a result, technology has brought in better systems, greater efficiency and is beginning to have a profound impact on governance.
India's Digital Makeover
The seeds of a digitally connected India were sown in the early 90s and 2000s with a number of diverse but disjointed e-Governance programs. However, these resulted in limited impact on citizens. A report published by the McKinsey Global Institute, recognized India as a technology powerhouse with its fast-growing market of digital consumers.
According to the Indian Government, with over 500 million Internet users, India has the world's largest biometrics digital identity program (Aadhaar) with over 1.2 billion people enrolled. An expanding e-payment ecosystem, with an average of over one billion unified payment interface (UPI) transactions in a month. All this sets a compelling stage for India as it progresses to become a trillion-dollar digital economy by 2025.
According to NASSCOM's report 'Implications of AI on the Indian Economy, the Indian IT industry generates more than US$ 191 billion in revenues, with its excellent talent base of 4.5 million engineers in the country. A large part of the top 10 global systems integrators is based out of India. With over 9000 tech startups, about 1600 of which are in the deep technology space, India is riding the digital wave.
There are tremendous opportunities for the government to leverage the power of technology to enrich people's lives, optimize businesses, and boost the country's progress.
Digital Transformation made eGovernance Possible
One of the earlier programs focused on Indian digitization and e-governance was the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) prepared by the government in 2006. Under this initiative, massive countrywide infrastructure to reach down to the remotest of villages was developed, and large-scale digitization of reports was undertaken to enable easy and reliable access over the internet.
On May 18, 2006, India's Government approved the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), comprising 27 Mission Mode Projects (MMP) and eight components. Followed by four projects - Education, Health, PDS, and Posts were introduced in 2011 to make the list of 31 Mission Mode Projects. The government has accorded approval to the vision, approach, strategy, key components, implementation methodology, and management structure for NeGP.
The Public Financial Management System (PFMS), launched in 2009, offers a financial management platform for all plan schemes, integration with core banking solutions, a database of all recipient agencies, integration of state treasurers and tracking of fund flow to the lowest tier of implementation of plan schemes on a real-time basis. PFMS has also led to the just-in-time release of funds and efficient management in the use of government funds, including ultimate utilization.
Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) along with various government approved Unified Payments Interface (UPI) based mobile Apps have simplified the money transfer and bill payment process for the citizens. While, with the Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI) program, the Government of India is implementing digital technology to cut across geographical boundaries and departmental silos to ensure expeditious government project implementation.
Initiatives Taken by the Government towards Digitalization
According to the report ‘India’s Trillion-Dollar Digital Opportunity’ the Digital India programme has transformed the entire digital profile of India, with 123 crore Aadhaar profile, 120 crore mobile mobile phones, 49 crore internet subscription, and a network of 3.12 lakh Common Services Centres. The government has also initiated several programs that aim to create technology-enabled solutions and facilitate their adoption by:
- Affordable devices availability by encouraging research, development, and manufacturing of electronic devices
- Incentivizing digital adoption by linking essential services and facilities like subsidies to initiatives
- Offering DigiLocker to help Citizens of India store their necessary Legal IDs such as PAN Card, Passport, Voter id card, and education certificates.
- MyGov Portal to improve good governance by help from citizen engagement.
- ORS Patient Portal to help citizens of the country handle online appointments and pay online fees of doctors and government hospitals
- Imparting relevant skills to ensure that citizens adopt technologies and contribute to them through skill development programs
Some of these schemes have already begun to yield encouraging results, while others are yet to see significant traction.
For decades, India has been a complex land, making it strenuous for the citizens to access government services. With the accelerated adoption of digital technology, the government is making things easy, simplified, and accessible. Although the early years of the digitalization programs did not receive much traction, it has firmly laid down the stepping stones for transforming India into a technology-enabled economy.