For India to become a truly Digital country, it needs to evolve at 3 pedestals.
First is Technological infrastructure. For digital usage to happen, a well built technological architecture is required. The Government of India is directing large sums of money towards building the right technology infrastructure.
Second is the Institutional readiness. Transitions are never automatic, for any technological infrastructure to become functional it needs executors to implement it well. The government departments and organizations are undertaking massive process transformation to build capacity to deliver. They are leveraging various other digital platforms like UIADAI, DigiLocker and the supporting policy environment to form a robust offering.
Third has to do with the citizens, both individuals and businesses. For any system to work, it has to be used by the people for whom it is built.
So, it’s only with the third pedestal of readiness, that Digital India will become a forceful reality.
Every individual, as a general citizen of India can contribute in making Digital India a reality. I present here five simple yet powerful steps for the fellow Indians to become the torch bearers in Government of India’s Digital Efforts.
1. Embrace JAM
JAM stands for Jan Dhan, Aadhar and Mobile, a trio which can fulfil the dream of Maximum Governance.
Jan Dhan is nothing but just a simple bank account, through which you can carry out all your financial transactions. The scheme was aimed to facilitate financial inclusion of individuals like migrant workers in urban areas who are not currently associated with the banking system. The move resulted in 250 million bank accounts being opened in a record time. It also made its way into the Guinness Book of World records when 18 million bank accounts were opened on the very first day of launch of this scheme. The total deposits in these accounts sum up to 435 billion INR (approx 7 billion USD), a notable achievement given the fact that these accounts can be operated even with zero balance.
Another 190 million Rupay cards, an Indian domestic card, have been issued. The Direct Benefits Transfer(DBT) thrust of the government of India would further enhance the penetration of banking services to the remotest corner of the country. It is just an enabler, a lot of social welfare and financial inclusion schemes of the government would revolve around the bank accounts in future. And with innovation in the banking sector led by the new age Fintech companies and Payment Banks, there will be a sea change in the way India spends.
Aadhaar card is a digital identity, which is an exemplary work in line with World Bank’s thrust for digital inclusion of some 2.5 billion individuals. Soon the system may not even recognise you without your Aadhaar ID. So, if you haven’t enrolled for the Aadhar card yet, be quick and register yourself immediately. It constitutes to a massive success of our country that 1000 million+ individuals have taken the Aadhar card. Today it’s required for opening a bank account, to get your LPG subsidy and with time probably everything (even your voting rights?). One must ensure that his present address always remains updated.
And third letter M stands for Mobile. Your mobile number is linked with your Aadhaar Card. Make sure that you don’t change your number often. With Mobile number portability, it is now easier to retain one’s number even if one wants to change one’s service provider. In case you change your number, update it as your registered mobile number at all the required points.
2. Seed Aadhaar into everything
Start syncing your Aadhar card with various things like opening a bank account, getting LPG cylinder, applying for passport, registering a new vehicle or filing income tax returns. Seed your Aadhaar details in every interaction with the government. Eventually, over time government shall proactively adopt the SAS policy (Seeding Aadhaar at Source), till then citizens must do it on their own behest. Aadhar is citizen’s digital identity, the more things are linked to it the better it is for an individual. It shall lead to more transparency and accountability. It’s a notable achievement that 50% of the Jan Dhan bank accounts are seeded with Aadhaar today.
3. Open your own DigiLocker
DigiLocker is a cloud based storage service for citizens to digitally store their documents. From school certificates to registry documents, any kind of document which is a proof of something, you can store them at DigiLocker. Government departments have also started issuing documents like the driving license and vehicle registration into the Digilocker. How do they know that it is yours? Simply through your Aadhaar number.
I have consciously not used the term CREATE. Over time, the government departments shall start pushing documents into a Digilocker related with your Aadhaar number. You only need to open it to access the document.
Documents play a very important role for citizens to be a part of the society and it also acts as an interface with the government. Just imagine your documents can be kept in a secured digital repository and you can access them at your own will. Wouldn’t life become simple? They can also be submitted digitally for interacting with the government. For example, you may submit education certificates while requesting for a Passport using the DigiLocker.
Imagine if 125 crore Indians submit 5 documents on an average in a year, it is 6.25 billion documents. They need to get photocopied, verified, carried and stored. All that hassle can vanish with them being available in a digital format, right from the point of issuance to the point of their use.
4. Participate in governance
There are avenues emerging for citizens to participate in governance. MyGov.in is one such initiative, where one can express his views on various issues of importance. Also, there are initiatives where citizens can participate in keeping a vigil on law and order (CitizenCOP) or quality of road construction (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana App). Assuming these as a starting step and watching them become mature, I am sure each citizen can participate in governance from both policy making and administration perspective.
World over governments are becoming more effective, efficient, open and transparent by going digital, but all that may not be fruitful till we, the citizens, responsibly participate. It’s only with the power to each citizen and their participation that will help our country become the force on the world map.
5. Spread awareness
It is a privilege that we are literate but there may be many people around us like our domestic help, driver or even regular Sabziwala, who may be unaware of or may find many of these aspects intimidating. Whenever I am travelling by a cab, I try to find out if the driver has taken the government insurance schemes. I feel insurance schemes like Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana is a very big security for many Indians, 3 out of 5 people do not even know about these schemes and their sole purpose.
They need our help. We need to tell them why should they embrace JAM, how they can avail great government schemes like that of accidental insurance for Rs 12 per annum. If each one of us take it as a personal responsibility to help at least 10 people we know to embrace digital initiatives, we will see inclusion becoming a reality. As I said transitions are never automatic, if government departments need to undertake massive process transformation to facilitate the change then it is also our responsibility as fellow countrymen to help in execution. We do not need to spend a lot of money or efforts to do that. Do we?
Digital can only enable. We all need to share the responsibility of making Digital India a reality.