Challenges to Digital India – There are many roadblocks in the way of its successful implementation like digital illiteracy, poor infrastructure, low internet speed, lack of coordination among various departments, issues pertaining to taxation, etc. These challenges need to be addressed in order to realize the full potential of this program.
Challenges to Digital India
Digital India is achievable but it has its set of challenges. Some of the Challenges to Digital India are
- Though India achieved the universal primary education target in 2015, its adult population still has a sizeable number of illiterate or semi-literate people, especially in villages. Taking Digital India initiatives to this segment of the population, which might have never touched a computer, would be a challenge. One solution may be to use a graphical user interface (GUI) so that even an illiterate user can understand it.
- The above problem is further accentuated by the fact that almost all the content on the internet, all apps & software is in English. In a diverse country like India which has 22 major languages, it would be a challenge to provide all e-facilities in these many Indian languages. Usually, this is done by translating English content. But most of the time, this translation is done in a very shoddily mechanical way, making it dry and difficult to comprehend for the masses. I will have to be ensured that not only all the facilities under Challenges to Digital India are available in Indian languages, but the quality of the content in our own languages is up to the mark.
- Digital literacy especially in rural areas is very low. Though Government has already announced a ‘Digital Literacy Mission’ for this, still it would pose a challenge in coming years.
- The true value of being digital means that workflow becomes automated and administrative system becomes more efficient, faster, and transparent. But the Challenges to Digital India in this is, that the government has been working in a particular way and suddenly, they have to work in a completely different environment. Now they have to put information online and respond to grievances and criticism. This will be difficult for those officials who are not used to functioning in this manner. Also, digitization and automation will reduce the scope for corruption, and thus a section of officials may try to sabotage these initiatives as was witnessed during the trial of DBT in MGREGA in Andhra Pradesh. Changing their attitude would be a tough task. A beginning can be made by explaining to them the advantages that digital will bring in running the government.
- With increased digitization and e-services, the threat of cyber crimes and fraud would increase. So precautions on this front need to be taken from the beginning, or else it may erode the public confidence in e-services. People need to be made aware of cyber threats and ways to guard against them.
- With all this focus on digital processes and e-services, India still lacks a mandatory legal framework for e-governance. The Electronic Services Delivery Bill 2011 lapsed in the parliament and a better-framed law needs to be immediately enacted. Adhaar has legal backing now, but concerns over the issue of data privacy still remain.
- Government alone, can not make Digital India a success. For this, the support and cooperation of the private sector will be needed at every stage. So clear principles and guidelines need to be developed for Public- Private-Partnerships in this field. Also, projects in remote villages may not be viable for the private sector, so special attention will have to be given to this.
- Implementation of Digital India involves – Union Government, States, Union Territories, and the IT industry. Coordination among so many Govt departments and private players would be a gargantuan task and would largely decide the success of this initiative.
- There are different internet protocols in different states depending on what kind of hardware and software they use. This may cause problems in interoperability. Hence, all software protocols need to be standardized. Also, the software should be on an open-source basis, rather than propriety. Because propriety solutions are more expensive and would be different to integrate across states.
- We need IT solutions suited to Indian needs. For this push need to be given for innovation and developing low-cost technologies. Hence the concept of Net Neutrality needs to be nourished and supported as it helps in innovation on the internet.
- In the end, we come to the big question – can technology solve the inherent problems of society? Can inequality, cast/gender-based discrimination, and exploitive social and political structures all be dealt with by just automation and optical fiber cables?