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MeitY seeks funds for Digital India programme to drive potential US $1 trillion digital economy

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) recently held a meeting with India’s Finance Commission on ‘Harnessing India’s Digital Opportunity’.

During the meeting, MeitY asked the commission to release separate funds to implement the Digital India programme.

Economies around the world are becoming more digital and India could harness the potential of technologies for sectors including agriculture, education, healthcare, and finance.

The Ministry said that India is standing on the verge of a trillion-dollar digital opportunity. A large-scale digital transformation is possible, and the country should prepare for it.

OpenGov reported earlier that India has the potential to create over US $1 trillion of economic value from the digital economy by 2025, up from around US $200 billion currently.

About 50% of the potential economic value could come from new digital ecosystems in diverse sectors, including, among others, financial services, agriculture, healthcare, logistics, jobs, and e-governance.

Digital India is a government flagship program. The rate of technology adoption increased between 2013 and 2018, bolstered by government initiatives and mobile penetration. During this time, the country clocked 1.22 billion Aadhaar registrations, 870 million Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, and 98 million daily e-government transactions. Building on this foundation, India can further scale-up its digital economy.

In a memorandum to the commission, MeitY said that the Digital India programme requires unprecedented IT capabilities for states and union territories to achieve its objectives and transforms India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.

The continuation of the ICT infrastructure and capacity building schemes is vital to bolstering ICT in the country.

As the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is not a centrally sponsored scheme (CSS) anymore, the Ministry has asked for separate funds for the scheme.

Over the last few years, the government launched several initiatives to encourage the development of e-government. MeitY has said that sustained efforts have been made at multiple levels to improve the delivery of public services and simplify the process of accessing them.

E-governance in India has steadily evolved from the computerisation of government departments to the development of a number of tech initiatives that are citizen-centric, service-orientated, and transparent. Lessons from previous e-governance initiatives have played an important role in shaping the progressive e-governance strategy of the country. The current approach has the potential to enable huge savings in costs through the sharing of core infrastructure and to facilitate interoperability through standards.

NeGP integrates e-government services from across the country into a collective vision and shared cause. Around this idea, a massive countrywide infrastructure reaching down to the remotest of villages is evolving, and the large-scale digitisation of records is taking place to enable easy and reliable access over the Internet. The ultimate objective is to bring public services closer home to citizens.

The Ministry proposed continuous union support for funding for the implementation of the core ICT infrastructures such as State Data Centres (SDC), State Wide Area Network (SWAN), State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG), and e-districts.

It also asked the commission to specifically focus on digital infrastructure, electronic manufacturing, and digital payments while allocating resources and offering performance-based incentives to states.

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