India biz commits $75 billion for Digital India

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “Digital India Week” here on Wednesday, India Inc. committed an investment of Rs.450,000 crore (some $75 billion) for the initiative that seeks to empower citizens by deploying IT and associated tools.

Choosing no less than a sports stadium to launch the initiative where who’s who of India Inc. packed the rows, Prime Minister Modi said industry captains have committed investments of Rs.450,000 crore toward “Digital India” and create 1.8 million new jobs.

The prime minister also unveiled a logo for Digital India — an umbrella programme that seeks to transform India into a digitally-empowered, knowledge economy with a host of initiatives for a synchronized and coordinated engagement of the government and its agencies.

The prime minister said it was not enough for India to say that it is an ancient civilization, and a country of 1.25 billion with favourable demography. “Modern technology needs to be blended with these strengths,” he said.

He laid emphasis on useful technologies and said at one point India was criticised for launching satellites but today these were helping the common people. Farmers, for instance, are able to access weather forecasts.

“Similarly, the Digital India initiative is aimed at improving the lives of the common people,” Modi said, adding while India may have missed the industrial revolution, it will not miss the IT revolution that is transforming peoples’ lives.

The Prime Minister assured full support to young entrepreneurs who wished to launch start-ups. He called upon the youth to innovate and said “Design in India” is as important as “Make in India”.

Digital India inaugurated by PM Modi
The event also saw a host of industrialists announce millions of dollars of investments in their own digital programs. They included Reliance Group’s Anil Ambani, Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani, Bharti Group’s Sunil Mittal and Aditya Vikram Birla Group’s Kumaramangalam Birla.

Others at the event included Delta group’s Ping Cheng, Vedanta’s Anil Agarwal, Wipro chairman Azim Premji, Lava’s Hari Om Rai, Airbus’ Peter Gutsmeidl, Hero Group’s Pawan Munjal, and Nidec Corp’s Mikio Katayama.

For the “Digital India” scheme, Modi has already been named the chair of a high-powered panel to monitor and all existing and ongoing e-governance initiatives. These will be revamped and aligned with the larger principles of “Digital India”, according to an official statement.

The larger goal of Digital India includes broadband connectivity in all panchayats, Wi-Fi in all the schools and universities and public Wi-Fi hotspots in all important cities by 2019. It will be deployed in delivering services in areas like health, education, agriculture and banking.

The vision is centred on three key areas:

– Digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen

– Governance and service on demand

– Digital empowerment of citizens.

Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, Wednesday marked the launch of a host of pro-people products designed to make life easier and give access in domains like e-education, e-health, e-agriculture, e-commerce and even e-entertainment.

“The essence of India’s Digital story is not to be told in the numbers of phones, laptops or the internet use. India’s vision of information technology is not simply IT enabled-services, but IT-enabled society,” he said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the “Digital India Week” was part of a series of programmes intended to give a new direction to the country in terms of the IT revolution. He also announced that a “Skill India” educational initiative will be unveiled next week.

The other initiatives launched under the “Digital India” programme on Wednesday included:

– Digital locker system to minimize usage of physical documents and enable their e-sharing via registered repositories.

– as an an online platform to engage citizens in governance through a “Discuss, Do and Disseminate” approach.

– Swachh Bharat Mission Mobile app to achieve the goals set by this mission.

– e-Sign framework to allow citizens to digitally sign documents online using Aadhaar.

– e-Hospital system for important healthcare services such as online registration, fee payment, fixing doctors’ appointments, online diagnostics and checking blood availability online.

– National Scholarship Portal for beneficiaries from submission of application to verification, sanction and disbursal.

– Digitize India Platform for large-scale digitization of records in the country to facilitate efficient delivery of services to the citizens.

– Bharat Net programme as a high-speed digital highway to connect all 250,000 gram panchayat of country — the world’s largest rural broadband project using optical fibre.