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How the government encourages digital skilling in rural India

Image credit: Compendium on Digital India; Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology

With less than 10% of the Indian population being digitally literate, the Indian government has been pushing for digital skilling and IT education through a number of initiatives under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

Although India is the fastest growing mobile market, it is behind when it comes to Internet connectivity. Connecting India’s communities to the world through the Internet is becoming increasingly essential for tech development and social progress.

According to the latest Internet and Mobile Association of India report, out of an estimated urban population of 455 million, 295 million use the Internet. In comparison, out of 918 million estimated rural population, there are 186 million users who use the Internet. In total, there are 481 million total internet users in India (as of December 2017), registering a hike of 11.34% from December 2016.

The digital divide is a manifestation of exclusion, poverty and inequality. Digital skills provide opportunities to the underserved and marginalised sections of the country and empowers them. Concerted efforts have been made by the government towards making people digitally literate in rural households and through running skilling initiatives.

Skill Development in ESDM for Digital India

  • This scheme supports existing human resources, students studying in schools (grade nine and onwards), polytechnics, in universities, and drop-outs or unemployed youth by providing them with additional skills that are recognised by the industry for employment in the EDSM sector.
  • The total target is 7,500 candidates. So far, 7,405 candidates have been enrolled and trained and out of these, 4,771 have been certified.

Information Security Education and Awareness (ISEA) Project Phase-II

  • The objective of this scheme is capacity building in the area of information security to address the human resource requirement of the country, by generating core research manpower to undertake fundamental research and applied research in the area of product making, solution design, and development in areas of national strategic importance.
  • The total outlay for five years of the project is US $95,145. The total funds released are valued at US $59,811.
  • 1,083 candidates have either been trained or are undergoing training in formal and non-formal courses.
  • 90 government officials have been trained in short-term programmes in the field of information security.
  • 41 awareness workshops on data protection have been organised covering 7,960 participants.

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA)

  • This scheme aims to make around 60 million people in rural areas digitally literate. Reaching around 40% of rural households, making one member from every household digitally literate by 31 March 2020.
  • It will train citizens to operate a computer or digital access devices (tablets and smartphones etc.), send and receive emails, browse the Internet, and use digital payment methods.
  • The implementing agency for the scheme is Common Service Centres under e-Governance Services India.

Visvesvaraya Ph.D. Scheme for Electronics and IT

  • The objective of this programme is to increase the number of Ph.D.s in ESDM and IT or IT-enabled services (IT/ITES) sectors in the country.
  • It supports 200 young faculty research fellowships in the areas of ESDM and IT/ITES with the objective to retain and attract young faculty members in these sectors.
  • The scheme aims to support 1,500 Ph.D. candidates, including both full-time (500) and part-time (1,000) candidates.

Electronics and ICT Academy

  • The MeitY approved a scheme to provide financial assistance to set up electronics and ICT academies. The scheme is for faculty and mentor development and will improve the employability of the students in various streams.
  • Seven electronics and ICT academies in two categories have been set up and are operational at leading academic institutions.
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