Speaker: RS Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Communications and IT
Chair: BVR Mohan Reddy, Chairman, Cyient & Vice Chairman NASSCOM
Mr. Mohan Reddy initiated the conversation on Digital India Vision with the Secretary for IT, Shri R.S. Sharma. Mr. Reddy said, this program of leviathan proportion and scope, aims to transform India into a digitally empowered and knowledge economy, positively impacting the masses, and bridging the digital divide. Once it happens, growth would truly then be considered inclusive, and the country would have taken a giant leap towards overall prosperity by including the poor and marginalised, just as well.
- Creation of a robust digital infra – Broadband Highway is the need of the hour. First step. The aim is to bring every citizen within the ambit of broadband connectivity. Currently there are many areas which do not even have 2G connectivity.
- Other soft infrastructure – bank accounts, mobile phones made available en masse etc. Numbers like 900 mn mobiles phone users, smartphone users growing at 8 mn per month, can only point towards one direction – leverage.
- Empowered users in India
This revolution is far from being exclusive. Most certainly it is inclusive and everyone is a part of it. India’s share of the software & services pie is around 52%. A global success story which is now folklore. If as a nation we could do it for the world, is there any reason to believe we cannot do it for our own country? Certainly, a mark of patriotism and well-earned pride, but there are some factors that one must be cognizant of, at all times.
Q. What are the blockers, which worries you?
- Mr. Sharma opined, that the vision of creating a ubiquitous broadband connectivity is an imperative. As long as that is NOT in place, it will remain a very big impediment towards realizing the Digital India dream.
- Silos. The age-old challenge that refuses to go away. From communication to software to companies. Entities working in silos. Over the last few decades we have built systems and software, but not been able to address this issue as much as desired. Dismantling physical silos are still easier in comparison to the digital variety. Unless there are platforms that are built on open architecture and APIs, the well-intended digital revolution may just prove be out of reach.
- Technology that is made available today must be leveraged to the hilt, to be able to do all this.
Q. How do you ensure the vision is relentlessly realised and implementation takes place?
Over last 2 decades, large number of systems have been developed. For example, Public distribution systems. Like this, there are 30 systems which work independently. It is possible to build a single system that operates across the country, and at the state levels too.
Q. Community service centre as delivery systems, but there is concern that CSCs are not fully ready, governance issues still persist.
Presently there are 100,000 CSCs, which has been a tremendous learning curve for the government. CSC 2.0 in its new avatar is about putting 250,000 of them (CSCs) which will be equipped with a better service delivery architecture, and which are more federal in nature. Because of our diversity there is an attempt is to have a CSC in every panchayat.
We are presently well poised at the cusp of change. Today at this point, the country is in a position to roll out solutions which citizens from other part of the globe are still grappling with.
Soon, and de facto, mobiles can be used as digital identity, by connecting it with Aadhar.
Q. NASSCOM can play a pivotal role in creating digital India. What are the partnering opportunities for NASSCOM?
Thus far, there has been significant contribution from industry members towards digital literacy & empowerment. It is at a stage where Govt. is conducting dialogues to formulate a joint working group with industry members that will meet on a quarterly basis. Mr. Sharma would formulate an agenda and try to remove as many unnecessary structures, as is possible. An eco-system, not structures, that need creation, is Mr. Sharma’s firm belief. Presently, working on initiatives like:
- Using mobile, as a way to transact business
- Cost effective banking – there is a huge opportunity at the bottom of the pyramid
- A frugal yet robust banking system is needed, where Rs. 10 can be a valid bank withdrawal amount. If Rs. 10 can be the value of a mobile recharge, then this too should be made possible. Certainly an idea whose time has come, to reach out to the bottom of the pyramid.
- Digital locker – repositories of certificates, linked with person’s Aadhar number, is being worked on.