I come from a small village in Himachal Pradesh. There were times when my father travelled 100 kilometers to the main government office to fill a form, but thankfully things have changed in the last few years. Now he goes to the nearest local office or on some special occasions, a booth is set up by the government to make things easy for all the villagers - a voting registration booth or a local Aadhaar Card center. He says, ‘Time has changed and computer has made everything easy.’ However, there are some glitches - sometimes the computer doesn’t work, internet is slow, or the only person who knows how to operate the system is sick. #DigitalIndia sounds more of a plan for the urban India where infrastructure is better and people are computer literate. It is still an incomprehensible thing for many like my father.
Hence E-Governance falls flat most of the times. To pave the way for #DigitalEra, we need to simply things for the mass users in our country and this should start by aiding E-Governance projects.
Here are a few things which can make this journey smooth -
Simpler Technology And Assistance -
We all must have heard of Aakash tablet that was introduced by the Government to help students. It was an initiative where a low cost tablet was launched to link 25000 colleges and 400 universities to the e-learning program. Similarly e-kisan tablet was launched to help farmers. To facilitate e-governance in a better way, one such initiative should be launched wherein we can provide a table to help people fill forms, applications, raise complaints and get all the help they need. Now, there are PC kiosks where people get assistance with their work but these places have working hours and we all know that in the true sense, internet should be available to everyone as and when they need, irrespective of time boundaries. So, for the e-governance plan to have a smooth functioning, tablets launched under this program should be given to people at the local communities - like 3-5 members of a Panchayat who are capable of operating it and helping others whenever they want. Let’s call it - e-Sahaayataa program which will be more successful as it will have easy accessibility and will benefit from the in-built trust present in the community. E-Governance through technology will be smooth if technology is available at the grass root level. Of course, such tablets should be cost effective and efficient.
App to Simplify and Fasten Things -
It’s not that we don’t have technology in our country. The presence of it can be spotted everywhere and the majority of population uses it. There are 71 million active Facebook users in our country and over 50 million people use Whatsapp. Now, whatsapp is used not only to have conversation with friends and family but also for promoting and doing business these days. The catch is - applications like whatsapp are easy to use and have zero-to-no cost. To reach the majority of population in e-governance, an app should be introduced. According to a report, there will be 200 million smartphone users in India by 2016 and an app will surely pace up the cause of Digitalizing India. The app should help -
- To check the status of application or track any data required by an individual in one click.
- To update information faster by people, like - filing of land record, change of address and addition to the family member.
- To get updates of various schemes introduced by the government, like tax benefits for entrepreneurs and small businesses, reform for farmers and government jobs openings.
A simple app which uses Aadhaar Card Number as the login has the potential of changing the outlook of common man towards the e-governance program. By introducing an app, the number of people joining the e-governance will rise exponentially.
Infrastructure, Skills and IT Professionals’ Participation-
In the growth of any country infrastructure and literacy plays the most important role. How can we be tech savvy without computer or internet? And, what can we do with a computer without the skill to operate it? On the road to Digitalizing India these two are the challenging aspects. To counter these challenges, Intel has introduced two programs - Digital Skills for India and Innovate for India. Its Digital Skills Training Application comprises of modules on Digital Literacy, Financial Inclusion, Health care and Cleanliness in 5 Indian languages, whereas the offline model caters to 7 languages. As far as the infrastructure aspect goes, Intel along with Bharat Broadband Network Limited proposes to build capacity by imparting digital literacy training in the first 1000 Panchayats under the National Optic Fiber Network roll-out. And a tablet that can recognize instructions in regional language. All this will ensure that the right tone is set for this momentous task. However, in addition to that we can seek participation of trained IT professionals who can impart skills to local people. A voluntary program where those interested to help the government and want to be an active part of India’s growth register themselves and help in making people literate in technology, something like - Each One, Teach One. It will give language and region advantage. India had 32,890,000 IT professionals in 2014 and even if a small percentage commits to this cause, it will reach thousands. The voluntary program can be divided on the basis of - field of expertise, language and region.
By improving our infrastructure, easy availability and accessibility of technology and active participation from all sectors of society, we can fulfill the dream of #DigitalIndia at an accelerated speed. I hope there will come a time in near future when we won’t rush to government offices on last date to deposit bill and people like my father don’t have to travel miles to fill a simple form. It will all be done from the comforts of their home and without any help, and that will mark the beginning of Digital Era of India.
*Image Source for Collage - Here and Here