Digital India Initiatives

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Digital India Initiatives

[pib] India’s AI supercomputer PARAM Siddhi

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Param Siddhi

Mains level : National Supercomputing Mission

India’s newest and fastest supercomputer, PARAM-Siddhi AI, has been ranked 63rd in the Top500 list of most powerful supercomputers in the world.

Try this MCQ:

Q.The terms Mihir, Param Siddhi and Pratyush are sometimes seen in news are actually:

a)Indigenous Submarines

b)Supercomputers

c)Missiles

d)Satellites

Param Siddhi

  • It is a high-performance computing-artificial intelligence (HPC-AI) supercomputer established under National Supercomputing Mission (NSM) at C-DAC.
  • It was commissioned by the C-DAC earlier and has been developed in association with chipmaker Nvidia and French IT consulting firm Atos.
  • It will help deep learning, visual computing, virtual reality, accelerated computing, as well as graphics virtualization.
  • The computer is expected to be used as a platform for academia, scientific research, startups and more.

Other Indian supercomputers

  • PARAM-Siddhi is the second Indian supercomputer to be entered in the top 100 on the Top500 list.
  • Pratyush, a supercomputer used for weather forecasting at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, ranked 78th on the November edition of the list.
  • It was ranked 66th in the June rankings announced by the project.
  • Another Indian supercomputer, Mihir (146th on the list), clubs with Pratyush to generate enough computing power to match PARAM-Siddhi.

Who topped the rankings?

  • The Top500 project tracks the most powerful supercomputers in the world and is published twice a year.
  • Japanese supercomputer Fugaku (442 petaflops) and IBM’s Summit (148.8 petaflops) are the two most powerful supercomputers in the world, according to the list.
  • Chinese Sunway TaihuLight is number four on the list (93 petaflops), developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) in China.

Back2Basics:

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

Petaflop

  • A petaflop is a measure of a computer’s processing speed and can be expressed as A thousand trillion floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) A thousand teraflops.
  • In computing, floating-point operations per second is a measure of computer performance, useful in fields of scientific computations that require floating-point calculations.
  • For such cases, it is a more accurate measure than measuring instructions per second.

Digital India Initiatives

Ghar Tak Fibre Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FTTH, Ghar tak fibre

Mains level : Internet connectivity, Digital divide

The government’s ambitious ‘Ghar Tak Fibre’ scheme — which aims to connect all the villages with high-speed internet — is off to a slow start in poll-bound Bihar.

Note the features of FTTH connections. They make a perfect case for a statement based prelims question. Also, try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following statements regarding optical fibres:

  1. A layer called the cladding, which has a refractive index more than that of the core, surrounds the core of the optical fibre.
  2. Light is propagated in an optical fibre by refraction and internal reflection.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Ghar Tak Fibre scheme

  • The Scheme will be implemented by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
  • It aims to connect all 45,945 villages of Bihar with high-speed optical fibre internet by 31st March 2021.
  • Under the scheme, Bihar has to provide at least five fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections per village and at least one WiFi hotspot per village.

What is FTTH?

  • Fiber to the home (FTTH), also called fibre to the premises (FTTP), is the installation and use of optical fibre from a central point directly to individual buildings such as residences, apartment buildings and businesses to provide high-speed internet access.
  • FTTH dramatically increases connection speeds available to computer users compared with technologies now used in most places.
  • FTTH promises connection speeds of up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps).

Digital India Initiatives

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NSM, Supercomputing

Mains level : National Supercomputing Mission

The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) has launched the second phase of the ambitious National Supercomputing Mission (NSM).

Tap to read more about National Supercomputing Mission (NSM):

[pib] National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

  • NSM is a proposed plan by GoI to create a cluster of seventy supercomputers connecting various academic and research institutions across India.
  • In April 2015 the government approved the NSM with a total outlay of Rs.4500 crore for a period of 7 years.
  • The mission was set up to provide the country with supercomputing infrastructure to meet the increased computational demands of academia, researchers, MSMEs, and startups by creating the capability design, manufacturing, of supercomputers indigenously in India.
  • Currently, there are four supercomputers from India in the Top 500 list of supercomputers in the world.

Aims and objectives

  • The target of the mission was set to establish a network of supercomputers ranging from a few Tera Flops (TF) to Hundreds of Tera Flops (TF) and three systems with greater than or equal to 3 Peta Flops (PF) in academic and research institutions of National importance across the country by 2022.
  • This network of Supercomputers envisaging a total of 15-20 PF was approved in 2015 and was later revised to a total of 45 PF (45000 TFs), a jump of 6 times more compute power within the same cost and capable of solving large and complex computational problems.

What is a Supercomputer?

  • A supercomputer is a computer with a high level of performance as compared to a general-purpose computer.
  • The performance of a supercomputer is commonly measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS).
  • Since 2017, there are supercomputers which can perform over a hundred quadrillion FLOPS (petaFLOPS).
  • Since November 2017, all of the world’s fastest 500 supercomputers run Linux-based operating systems.

Why do we need supercomputers?

  • Tackle problems: Developed and almost-developed countries have begun ensuring high investments in supercomputers to boost their economies and tackle new social problems.
  • These high-performance computers can simulate the real world, by processing massive amounts of data, making cars and planes safer, and more fuel-efficient and environment-friendly.
  • They also aid in the extraction of new sources of oil and gas, development of alternative energy sources, and advancement in medical sciences.
  • Disaster Management: Supercomputers have also helped weather forecasters to accurately predict severe storms, enable better mitigation planning and warning systems.
  • They are also used by financial services, manufacturing and internet companies and infrastructure systems like water-supply networks, energy grids, and transportation.
  • Future applications of artificial intelligence (AI) also depend on supercomputing.
  • Due to the potential of this technology, countries like the US, China, France, Germany, Japan, and Russia have created national-level supercomputing strategies and are investing substantially in these programmes.

When did India initiate its efforts to build supercomputers?

  • India’s supercomputer programme initiated in the late 1980s, when the United States ceased the export of a Cray Supercomputer due to technology embargos.
  • This resulted in India setting up C-DAC in 1988, which in 1991, unveiled the prototype of PARAM 800, benchmarked at 5 Gflops. This supercomputer was the second-fastest in the world at that time.
  • Since June 2018, the USA’s Summit is the fastest supercomputer in the world, taking away this position from China.
  • As of January 2018, Pratyush and Mihir are the fastest supercomputers in India with a maximum speed of Peta Flops.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] YuWaah Platform

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : YuWaah Portal

Mains level : Not Much

Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) are set to establish YuWaah, Generation Unlimited (GenU), a global multi-stakeholder platform in India.

 YuWaah Platform

As per the Statement of Intent, the objectives of this project are:

  • Support young people by providing entrepreneurship classes (online and offline) with successful entrepreneurs and experts, towards establishing an entrepreneurial mindset among young people.
  • Upskilling of young people on 21st-century skills, life skills, digital skills through online and offline channels and support them through self-learning, for their productive lives and the future of work.
  • Create linkages with aspirational economic opportunities to connect young people with employment opportunities, including building pathways to connect them with jobs or self-employment.
  • Providing career guidance support to young people through career portal as well as through job-readiness and self-exploration sessions to make young people career-ready.

Digital India Initiatives

Issues with the Gopalakrishnan Committee Report

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Personal data and non-personal data

Mains level : Paper 3- Making open data-society by sharing making open the data collected by the government

The article highlights the importance of non-personal data collected by the government and lack of any reference to it in the Gopalakrishnan Committee report.

Background

  • The Committee of Experts on the Non-Personal Data Governance Framework headed by K Gopalakrishnan has recommended making privately held non-personal data “open”.
  •  This has raised concerns about state interference in the private data ecoystem.

Importance of data collected by government agencies

  • The report is a missed opportunity to address the governance frameworks around data created by government agencies.
  • Some of the most important non-personal data sets are held by the government, or result from taxpayer funding.
  • Such data can be useful in either framing public policy or creating and providing new services.

Why government data should be open to citizens: 5 Reasons

  • First, the state should be transparent about information that it has. This will improve accountability.
  • Second, if taxpayer money has funded any of the data sets, then it is an obligation of the state to return the fruits of that funding to the taxpayer.
  • Third, by permitting the reuse of government data sets, we avoid the need for duplication.
  • Fourth, government data sets, curated according to publicly verified standards, can lead to increased confidence in data quality and increased usage.
  • Finally, free flow of information can have beneficial effects on society in general.

Government policies promoting openness of data

  • The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, mandates the disclosure of government data on a suo moto basis.
  • One of the nine pillars of the Digital India Policy is “information for all”.
  • The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP), 2012 requires all non-sensitive information held by public authorities to be made publicly accessible in machine readable formats (subject to conditions).
  • The government has also set up an Open Government Data Platform to provide open access to data sets held by ministries and other agencies of the government.
  • Various States have also either created their own data portals or have provided data sets to the Open Government Data Platform.

Challenges in making the data open to society

  • There are two reasons for our failure to create an open data-based society.
  • The first is lack of clarity in some of the provisions of the NDSAP or the relevant implementation guidelines.
  • The second is the inability to enforce guidelines appropriately.
  • Data sets released by governments are often inconsistent, incomplete, outdated, published in non-machine readable or inconsistent formats, include duplicates, and lack quality (or any) metadata, thereby reducing re-usability.

Issues with Gopalakrishnana Committee Report

  • The Gopalakrishnan Committee could have evaluated what is going wrong with existing policies and practice pertaining to government data.
  • The report is a missed opportunity to address the governance frameworks around non-personal data sets in a country created by government agencies, or those resulting from taxpayer money.
  • The report largely focuses on the dangers posed by data collection by private sector entities.
  • This has raised concerns about state interference in the private data ecoystem.
  • Many of the concerns that should be addressed in the report that are central to the governance of the data ecosystem have remained in the background.
  • For instance, India’s cybersecurity framework continues to be inadequate, while even the Justice B.N. Srikrishna Committee report of 2018 highlighted the need to restrict the growing power of the state to carry out surveillance.

Consider the question “What are the key recommendation made by the Gopalakrishnan Committee for the regulation of non-personal data? What are the shortcomings in of the report in your opinion?”

Conclusion

Since data governance is a relatively new concept in India, the government would be better served in taking an incremental approach to any perceived problems. This should begin with reforming how the government itself deals with citizens’ data.

Digital India Initiatives

GIS-enabled Land Bank System

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Land Bank System

Mains level : Digital land records

A prototype of the National GIS-enabled Land Bank System was e-launched by Commerce and Industry Ministry for six States based on which land can be identified for setting up industries.

Try to answer this question in short:

Q.Discuss the benefits of digitizing land records in India.

Land Bank System

  • The system has been developed by the Integration of Industrial Information System (IIS) with state GIS (Geographic Information System).
  • IIS portal is a GIS-enabled database of industrial clusters/areas across the states.
  • On the system, more than 3,300 industrial parks across 31 states/UTs covering about 4,75,000 hectares of land have also been mapped out on the system.
  • The information available on the system will include drainage, forest; raw material heat maps (horticulture, agricultural, mineral layers); multilayer of connectivity.
  • IIS has adopted a committed approach towards industrial upgrading, resource optimization, and sustainability.

Various stakeholders

  • The initiative has been supported by the National e-Governance Division (NeGD), National Centre of Geo-Informatics (NCoG), Invest India, Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-Informatics (BISAG), and Ministry of Electronics and Informational Technology.

Digital India Initiatives

Digital Quality of Life Index, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Digital Quality of Life Index

Mains level : Digital divide in India

India ranks among the lowest in the world in terms of Internet quality, according to the Digital Quality of Life Report.

Note the following aspects:

1)Organisation publishing the report

2)India’s rank and its comparison with neighbors

3)Rankers at the top

Digital Quality of Life Index

  • It is global research released by online privacy solutions provider SurfShark.
  • It releases a report on the quality of digital wellbeing in 85 countries (81% of the global population), in terms of e-infrastructure.

India’s ranking: Hits and Misses

  • India occupies 79th place, ranking below countries including Guatemala and Sri Lanka.
  • India makes it into the top 10 in terms of Internet affordability. With a ranking of nine, it outperforms countries such as the U.K., the U.S. and China.
  • Additionally, when it comes to e-government, India occupies the 15th place globally, just below countries like New Zealand and Italy.
  • However, at position 78, India’s Internet quality is one of the lowest across 85 countries analysed in the research.

Global rankings

  • The report found that seven of the 10 countries with the highest digital quality of life are in Europe, with Denmark leading among 85 countries.
  • Canada stands out as a country with the highest digital quality of life in the Americas, while Japan takes the leading position in Asia.
  • Among the countries in Africa, people in South Africa enjoy the highest quality of digital lives whereas New Zealand leads in Oceania, outperforming Australia in various digital areas.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Krishi Megh: A Cloud-based Data Recovery Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cloud Storage, Krishi Megh

Mains level : NA

Union Minister of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare has launched the Krishi Megh Data Recovery Centre.

Do not get confused with the name ‘Krishi Megh’. One might mistakenly relate it to some weather forecasting tool of the Indian Meteorological Department.

Krishi Megh

  • The Krishi Megh has been set up at National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM), Hyderabad.
  • It has been set up under the National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP), funded by both the government and World Bank.
  • It has been built to mitigate the risk, enhance the quality, availability and accessibility of e-governance, research, extension and education in the field of agriculture in India.
  • Currently, the main data centre of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is at the Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute (IASRI) in New Delhi.

Back2Basics: Cloud Storage

  • It is a cloud computing model that stores data on the Internet through a cloud computing provider who manages and operates data storage as a service.
  • It is delivered on demand with just-in-time capacity and costs, and eliminates buying and managing your own data storage infrastructure.
  • It gives agility, global scale and durability, with “anytime, anywhere” data access.

Digital India Initiatives

Submarine Cable Connectivity to Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Optical fibre cables and their working, AandN Islands

Mains level : Digital India outreach in AandN Islands

PM has launched the submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) connecting Andaman & Nicobar Islands to the mainland.

Try this PYQ:

Q. Consider the following statements regarding optical fibres:

  1. A layer called the cladding, which has a refractive index more than that of the core, surrounds the core of the optical fibre.
  2. Light is propagated in an optical fibre by refraction and internal reflection.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?(CSP 2010)

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

What is a submarine communications cable?

  • A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the seabed between land-based stations to transmit telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean and sea.
  • The optical fibre elements are typically individually coated with plastic layers and contained in a protective tube suitable for the environment where the cable will be deployed.
  • Compared to satellites, using internet connection through submarine cables is more reliable, cost-efficient and of large capacity.

About the project

  • About 2,300 km of submarine optical fibre cable (OFC) has been laid at a cost of about Rs 1,224 crore to provide better connectivity in the UT.
  • The project envisages better connectivity from Chennai to Port Blair and seven other Islands — Swaraj Deep (Havelock), Long Island, Rangat, Hutbay (Little Andaman), Kamorta, Car Nicobar and Campbell Bay (Great Nicobar).
  • The project is funded by the government through the Universal Service Obligation Fund under the ministry of communications.
  • The foundation stone for the project was laid by PM Modi in December 2018 at Port Blair.

Expected outcomes

  • The OFC will enable the delivery of faster and more reliable mobile and landline telecom services to Andaman & Nicobar Islands, at par with other parts of India.
  • The submarine optical fibre cable link will deliver bandwidth of 2 x 200 Gigabits per second (Gbps) between Chennai and Port Blair, and 2 x 100 Gbps between Port Blair and the other islands.
  • 4G mobile services, which were constrained due to limited backhaul bandwidth provided via satellite, will also see a major boost.

Benefits of the project

  • Better connectivity in the region will facilitate the delivery of e-governance services such as telemedicine and tele-education.
  • E-commerce: Small enterprises will benefit from opportunities in e-commerce, while educational institutions will utilise the enhanced availability of bandwidth for e-learning and knowledge sharing.
  • Business Process Outsourcing services and other medium and large enterprises too also benefit from better connectivity.
  • Low cost internet:The internet bills in Andaman and Nicobar will also come down substantially.

Digital India Initiatives

Digital realities of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Digital India and role of Google

Context

  • Google has recently announced a decision to invest $10 billion in India.
  • To put that sum in context, it is over 10 times the money set aside for 100 smart cities and almost 20 times that for Digital India.
  • Purpose of that investment is stated to be digitising India.

Digital realities of India Google must consider:

1) Contradictions

  •  India recognises the internet as a human right, and yet, has led the world in internet shutdowns.
  • Its internet speeds can be slow and variable, but its uptake of smartphones is the world’s fastest.
  • It is second only to China in internet users, app downloads and social media users.

2) Lack of access to internet

  • Only 21 per cent of women are mobile internet users, while the percentage for men is twice that number.
  • There are many societal factors that make it difficult for women and girls to enjoy full digital freedoms.
  • In rural India, where two-thirds of the country lives, just about a quarter of the population has internet access.
  • Differences in digital access mean differences in the quality of education.
  • The gaps are both digital and societal.

3) Lack of access to banks

  •  India’s workforce is mostly informal.
  • Only 22 per cent of recipients of migrant remittances have access to banks within one km, according to a report by the Centre for Digital Financial Inclusion.
  • A push from Google and its competitors could make payments and financial access more inclusive.

4) Need for special products for India

  • you mention new products for India’s unique needs, of which there are many.
  • Consider the needs in the agricultural sector alone.
  • Impac of predictive data analytics and basic artificial intelligence into Indian agriculture using readily available technologies would be huge.
  • Precision farming to improve the timing and quantity of seeding, irrigation and fertiliser usage.
  • Helping farmers get credit at lower costs and helping predict commodity prices can create $33 billion in new value annually in Indian agriculture.

5) Lack of data governance and issues with it

  • Nandan Nilekani has said, India will be data rich before it is “economically rich”.
  • With 650 million internet users, there is a lot of data richness already.
  • But this data richness exists without a forward-looking and inclusive data governance policy.
  • The experience with Aarogya Setu, provided a perfect case study on the discomfort within India because of the absence of such governance.

6) Prevalence of misinformation

  • It is essential to get a handle on the “infodemic” problem in India.
  • The situation was made far worse by the pandemic, where many of the prejudices, fears have converged.
  • Google-owned YouTube is a critical medium for spreading information, fact and fiction.
  • To its credit, YouTube removed over 8,20,000 videos in India in the first quarter of 2020.
  • This is a great start, but the bad guys will only find ways around it and Google must make deeper investments in both human and machine intelligence to stay ahead.

7) Geopolitical context

  • India is inching closer to the US corner in the tech Cold War between the US and China.
  • India-China relationship has cooled this year as a fallout from the political tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.
  • India acted against Chinese ByteDance-owned video streaming app TikTok, along with 59 mobile apps.
  • Google’s role will be important as a bargaining chip against China and the partnership with Jio.
  • This important role may help Google get some domestic leverage with Indian regulators.

8) Job creation

  • Digital technologies can create jobs.
  • For this to happen India must streamline the regulations to enhancing the country’s digital and physical foundations.
  • There is also need for developing more progressive data accessibility laws.
  • To translate into productive work, the government must invest in skill-building and education at all levels.

Consider the question “Digitising India could accelerate its progress toward development but there are certain factors which must be addressed before India could reap benefits of digitising. Examine such factors and suggest the ways to deal with the issues in digitising the country.”

Conclusion

There is a lot Google can take while working on the task of digitising India. But the above-mentioned factors will help Google chart out its journey well.

Original articles:

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/sundar-pichai-google-education-digital-india-6544793/

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Bharat Airfiber

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bharat Air Fibre Services

Mains level : Digital India

The Union Ministry of Communications has inaugurated “Bharat Air Fibre Services” at Akola in Maharashtra.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2018:

Q: Which of the following is/are the aim/aims of “Digital India” plan of the Government of India?

  1. Formation of India’s own Internet companies like china did.
  2. Established a policy framework to encourage overseas multinational corporations that collect big data to build their large data centers within our national geographical boundaries.
  3. Connect many of our villages to the internet and bring WiFi to many of our schools, public places and major tourist centers.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Bharat Air Fibre Services

  • The Bharat Air Fibre services are introduced by BSNL as part of Digital India initiates by the GoI.
  • It aims to provide Wireless Connectivity in the range of 20 KMs from the BSNL Locations.
  • It provides internet connectivity upto 100 Mbps speed.
  • It is completely wireless and offers broadband up to 10Mbps up to a distance of 5 Kms.
  • These services are special and different from other operators as BSNL is providing unlimited free voice calling.
  • Customers at remote places also will be benefitted as BSNL comes with the cheapest services with the support of Telecom Infrastructure Partners (TIPs).

Digital India Initiatives

The digital lifeline provided by UPI

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UPI

Mains level : Paper 3- Examining the success of UPI

The UPI sets the template for India in its journey toward digitalisation. This article by WhatsApp head Will Cathcart explains the success story of UPI and the future scope to build on its success.

The success story of UPI

  • The UPI system set a national open standard for all of India’s banks, more than 155 of which have adopted it.
  • UPI is open standard that technology companies can adopt on an equal and level-playing field.
  • This means that no one company, foreign or domestic, can write the rules for the other.
  • Since its launch, the UPI system has grown to manage a 100 million-strong user base.
  • NPCI has also set a goal to increase UPI’s user base to 500 million by 2022, which if achieved, would be a true game-changer for Digital India.

What the success of UPI means

  •  UPI has set important new frameworks around security and efficiency.
  • Because of the strong rules that India has put in place, payment transaction information remains with the banks and within the country.
  • And as a platform built on Indian technology and governed by Indian rules, UPI benefits Indians now and holds great potential for further innovation and commerce.

Future scope for UPI

  •  It is imperative more tech companies are able to leverage the power of UPI to expand the digital ecosystem to accelerate financial inclusion.
  • UPI can also anchor a broader suite of fintech applications like micro-pensions, digital insurance products, and flexible loans.
  • These are custom solutions created by Indian technology companies, on the public infrastructure of UPI.
  • These solutions will first solve large social, business and financial problems in India and then become templates for other countries to deploy.
  • COVID-19 has only underscored the importance of these tools that will serve as critical lifelines for small and micro-enterprises and individuals as they look to recover.

Consider the question “Within a short period from its launch the UPI has transformed the payment landscape in India. Examine the factors that contributed to the success of UPI and elaborate on its future scope.”

Conclusion

With courage, ambition, and boundless potential, India can emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before — a leading democratic digital powerhouse that will lead the world in the 21st century.

B2BASICS

What is Unified Payments Interface (UPI)?

Image for post

  • It was launched in April 2016 and in the last two years, the platform has emerged as a popular choice among users for sending and receiving money.
  • UPI is a payment system that allows money transfer between any two bank accounts by using a smartphone.
  • UPI allows a customer to pay directly from a bank account to different merchants, both online and offline, without the hassle of typing credit card details, IFSC code, or net banking/wallet passwords.
  • It also caters to the “Peer to Peer” collect request which can be scheduled and paid as per requirement and convenience.

Original article:

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/coronavirus-india-economy-poverty-digital-payment-bhim-upi-6533171/

Digital India Initiatives

Digital divide in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Digital divide in India

The COVID-19 induced lockdown highlights India’s great digital divide.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What are the various facets of Digital Divide in India? Discuss how the Digital India initiative has impacted ruling out India’s digital divide?

What is Digital divide?

A digital divide is any uneven distribution in the access to, use of, or impact of information and communications technologies between any number of distinct groups, which can be defined based on social, geographical, or geopolitical criteria, or otherwise

What are the implications of the digital divide?

Political

In the age of social media, political empowerment and mobilization are difficult without digital connectivity.

Governance

Transparency and accountability are dependent on digital connectivity. The digital divide affects e-governance initiatives negatively.

Social

Internet penetration is associated with greater social progress of a nation. Thus digital divide in a way hinders the social progress of a country.

Rural India is suffering from information poverty due to the digital divide. It only strengthens the vicious cycle of poverty, deprivation, and backwardness.

Economic

The digital divide causes economic inequality between those who can afford the technology and those who don’t.

Educational

The digital divide is also impacting the capacity of children to learn and develop.
Without Internet access, students can not build the required tech skills.

Facets of the great Digital Divide in India

  • Education is just one area that has highlighted the digital divide between India’s rural and urban areas during the lockdown.
  • The trend is evident everywhere — telemedicine, banking, e-commerce, e-governance, all of which became accessible only via the internet during the lockdown.
  • The divide exists despite the rise in the number of wireless subscribers in India over the past few years.

1) Telecom facility, not digital progression

  • According to a report released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on June this year, the country had over 1,160 million wireless subscribers in February 2020, up from 1,010 million in February 2016.
  • This is a rise of 150 million subscribers in five years or 30 million per year.
  • The growth has been evenly distributed in urban and rural areas, with the number of urban subscribers increasing by 74 million (from 579 million to 643 million) and rural subscribers by 86 million (from 431 million to 517 million).
  • But this growth only indicates the rise in basic telecommunication facility.

2) The Urban-Rural Divide

  • Services such as online classrooms, financial transactions and e-governance require access to the internet as well as the ability to operate internet-enabled devices like phones, tablets and computers.
  • Here the urban-rural distinction is quite stark.
  • According to the NSSO conducted between July 2017 and June 2018, just 4.4 rural households have a computer, against 14.4 per cent in an urban area.
  • It had just 14.9 per cent rural households having access to the internet against 42 per cent households in urban areas.
  • Similarly, only 13 per cent people of over five years of age in rural areas have the ability to use the internet against 37 per cent in urban areas.

3) Regional Divide

  • States too greatly differ in terms of people that have access to computers or in the know-how to use the internet.
  • Himachal Pradesh leads the country in access to the internet in both, rural and urban areas.
  • Uttarakhand has the most number of computers in urban areas, while Kerala has the most number of computers in rural areas.
  • Overall, Kerala is the state where the difference between rural and urban areas is the least.

4) Digital Gender Divide

  • India has among the world’s highest gender gap in access to technology.
  • Only 21 per cent of women in India are mobile internet users, according to GSMA’s 2020 mobile gender gap report, while 42 per cent of men have access. The report says that while 79 per cent of men own a mobile phone in the country, the number for women is 63 per cent.
  • While there do economic barriers to girls’ own a mobile phone or laptop, cultural and social norms also play a major part.
  • The male-female gap in mobile use often exacerbates other inequalities for women, including access to information, economic opportunities, and networking.

5) Others

  • The earning member of the family has to carry the phone while going out to work.
  • Access to phones and the internet is not just an economic factor but also social and cultural.
  • If one family has just one phone, there is a good chance that the wife or the daughter will be the last one to use it.

Programmes for Addressing the Challenges in Bridging the Digital Divide:

India taking significant steps towards acquiring competence in information and technology, the country is increasingly getting divided between people who have access to technology and those who do not. 

    • The Indian government has passed Information Technology Act, 2000 to make to e- commerce and e-governance a success story in India along with national e-governance plan. 
    • Optical Fibre Network (NOF-N), a project aimed to ensure broadband connectivity to over two lakh (200,000) gram panchayats of India by 2016.
    • Digital Mobile Library: In order to bridge the digital divide in a larger way the government of India, in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Computing (C–DAC) based in Pune.
    • Unnati, is a project of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) which strives to bridge the digital divide in schools by giving the rural students with poor economic and social background access to computer education.
    • E-pathshala: to avail study materials  for every rural and urban student. 
    • Common Service Centres: which enabled the digital reach to unreachable areas. 

Initiatives of State Government:

  • Sourkaryan and E–Seva: Project of the government of Andhra Pradesh to provides the facility for a citizen to pay property taxes online.
  • The Gyandoot Project: It is the first ever project in India for a rural information network in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh which has the highest percentage of tribes and dense forest. The project was designed to extend the benefits of information technology to people in rural areas by directly linking the government and villagers through information kiosks

Way forward

1.Infrastructure

  • The promotion of indigenous ICT development under Atmanirbhar Abhiyan can play a significant role. The promotion of budget mobile phones is the key.

  • The creation of market competition between service providers may make services cheaper.

  • Efficient spectrum allocation in large contiguous blocks should be
    explored.

  • We should also explore migration to new technologies like 5G. It would resolve some of the bandwidth challenges.

2.Digital literacy

  • Digital literacy needs special attention at the school / college level.

  •  The National Digital Literacy Mission should focus on introducing digital literacy at the primary school level in all government schools for basic content and in higher classes and colleges for advanced content.

  • When these students will educate their family members, it will create multiplier effects. Higher digital literacy will also increase the adoption of computer hardware across the country.

3.Language

  • State governments should pay particular attention to content creation in the Indian regional languages, particularly those related to government services.

  • Natural language processing ( NLP) in Indian languages needs to be promoted.

4.Role of regulators

  • Regulators should minimize entry barriers by reforming licensing, taxation, spectrum allocation norms.

  • TRAI should consider putting in place a credible system. This system will track call drops, weak signals, and outages. It ensures the quality and reliability of telecom services.

5.Cybersecurity

  • MeitY will need to evolve a comprehensive cybersecurity framework for data security, safe digital transactions, and complaint redressal.

Telecom ombudsman

  • The government should also set up telecom ombudsman for the redress of grievances.

Conclusion

  • The Standing Committee on Information Technology in January 2019 concluded that the digital literacy efforts of the government are far from satisfactory.
  • Clearly, internet penetration is not deep enough. At one level, we all recognise that the internet has become indispensable.
  • On another level, it still doesn’t have adequate attention of the decision-makers.
  • The most crucial need of the hour is to ensure uninterrupted internet services.

Back2Basics: Digital India Initiatives

  • Over the past decade, governments have been trying to improve internet access in the country.
  • In 2011, the BharatNet project was launched to connect 0.25 million panchayats through an optical fibre (100 MBPS) and connect India’s villages. Its implementation began only in 2014.
  • In 2014, the government launched the National Digital Literacy Mission and the Digital Saksharta Abhiyan.
  • In 2015, the government launched several schemes under its Digital India campaign to connect the entire country.
  • This includes the PM Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan, launched in 2017, to usher in digital literacy in rural India by covering 60 million households.

Digital India Initiatives

Need for open protocols and networks in the realm of internet

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : API

Mains level : Paper 3- Issues of dominance of some platforms on the internet and solution

We are familiar with the dominance of some platforms on the internet. That dominance start to create problems. This article discusses the issues with dominance and suggests the solution drawing on the success of UPI.

Platforms on the internet

  • Platforms are technology layers that leverage the internet to bring together producers, resellers and consumers.
  • Platforms reduce transaction costs by cutting out intermediaries.
  • Amazon started by selling books but became a profitable giant by creating the e-commerce platform called Amazon Marketplace.
  • The most valuable companies today are platforms for search, social interaction, advertising, insurance, travel, real estate, etc.

Issues with the platforms

  • 1)The promise of the internet was disintermediation, but the process has hit a speed breaker with major platforms taking on the role of mediation. 
  • 2) There may be multiple platforms in the game to start with, but due to network effects and the non-portability/lock-in, only a few monopolies space.
  • 3) Big platforms have tried to create a sort of  cartel in which to trap the customers while fencing off the rest of the internet.
  • 4) The platforms amass data about users which is used to influence user behaviour, which is not limited to guiding the buying decisions.

So, what is the solution?

Let’s look at the success story of  the UPI

  • Unified Payment Interface (UPI) is a set of protocols that standardises the language of money transfer.
  • It is an interface: a simple and structured protocol for instructions and a clearinghouse that relays well-formed requests to concerned parties for execution.
  • Once the language is there, a user may choose any app to link their bank account to a UPI ID and make a pay or collect request involving any other bank account.
  • UPI handled 1.3 billion transactions in June 2020, overtaking the aggregate number of transactions of all legacy “platforms”.
  • UPI succeeded because it treated all players, big or small, equally.
  • This allowed third-party innovators to drive adoption by creating solutions that addressed the need of the people.

Solution: Adopting of open protocols

  • Application Programming Interfaces (or API) are protocols that define the meaning of data exchanged between two computers.
  • Universally accepted API definitions could allow a cabbie to be discovered by any cab aggregator app the rider may choose.
  • In healthcare, it could facilitate finding a doctor, booking an ambulance, taking out insurance, filing a claim, sharing a medical report or purchasing medicines from a pharmacy.

Advantages of open protocols

  • Open protocols create ecosystems that are non-rivalrous and non-excludable by design.
  • Even smallest of application developers or start-ups can offer low-cost, locally relevant solutions using the protocol.
  • We can address the needs of the diverse business community and achieve much greater penetration for e-commerce than the 10 per cent of today.
  • Open systems have the potential to transform education, food delivery, by enabling entrepreneurs to compete on their quality and reputation alone.
  • Portability from one application to another, privacy and data empowerment will be some of the issues taken care of.
  • We can reduce our dependence on foreign platforms.

Consider the question “What are APIs? Examine the issues created by the dominant internet platforms and how the adoption of open protocols for API could address the problem?”

Conclusion

With such a huge potential in APIs open protocols, the government must bring out the policy for the creation of open protocols and realise the untapped potential it offers.

Digital India Initiatives

Key stakeholders in data regulation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Non-Personal Data

Mains level : Paper 3- Key stakeholder in the regulation of Non-Personal Data

The article examines the structures and role of key stakeholders in regulation of Non-Personal Data as per the report submitted by the committee headed by Kris Gopalakrishnan.

Context

  • There is a realisation that data should be unlocked in public interest beyond the use by a few large companies
  • Data, in many cases, are not just a subject of individual decision-making but that of communities, such as in the case of ecological information.
  • Therefore, it is critical that communities are empowered to exercise some control over how the data are used.
  • Recently the Non-Personal Data committee released a governance framework, which raises many concerns.

Following are the key stakeholder as defined in the report

1)Data principals

  • As per the report, the first keyholders are data principals, who/ which can be individuals, companies or communities.
  • The idea of communities as data principals is introduced ambiguously by the report.
  • The report does not address the translation of offline inequalities and power structures to data rights.

2) Data custodians

  • Data custodian is the one who undertake collection, storage, processing, and use of data in a manner that is in the best interest of the data principal.
  • The details in this section are unclear.
  • It is not specified if the data custodian can be the government or private companies only.
  • It is also not clear what best interest is, especially when several already vague and possibly conflicting principal communities are involved.
  • It is also not clear how communities engage with the custodian.
  • Suggestion that data custodians can monetise the data they hold is especially problematic as this presents a conflict of interest with those of the data principal communities.

3) Data trustees

  • The report talks about data trustees as a way for communities to exercise data rights.
  • Trustees can be governments, citizen groups, or universities.
  • There is no clarity on how “trust” is extended and fructified with the community, and how trustees are empowered to act on behalf of the community.
  • The principles of a legal trust and the fiduciary responsibility that come with role of trustees are critical.
  • Trustees, by definition, are bound by a duty of care and loyalty towards the principal and thus work in their best interests.
  • Trustee has to negotiate on behalf of Data Principals’ data rights with technology companies and regulators.
  • This thinking is not reflected in the report.
  •  Also, the relationship between the data principal communities and the trustees is not clear.

How will the ‘Trust’ function?

  • The report explains data trusts comprising specific rules and protocols for containing and sharing a given set of data.
  • Trusts can hold data from multiple custodians and will be managed by public authority.
  • But the power, composition and functions of the trust are not established.
  • One possible way to simplify the ecosystem would be to consider data trusts as a type of custodian.
  •  So that trustees can represent the community and act on behalf of the data principals.

Consider the question “What do you understand by Non-Personal Data. Examine its utility and need to treat as a public good.”

Conclusion

The committee should organise broader consultations to ensure that the objective of unlocking data in public interest and through collective consent does not end up creating structures that exacerbate the problems of the data economy and are susceptible to regulatory capture.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PRAGYATA Guidelines

Mains level : Limitations of Digital learning

Union HRD Ministry has released PRAGYATA Guidelines on Digital Education through online medium.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the impact of the COVID induced lockdowns on the education system in India. Give some solutions for it.

PRAGYATA guidelines

  • The guidelines include eight steps of online/ digital learning that is, Plan- Review- Arrange- Guide- Yak(talk)- Assign- Track- Appreciate.
  • These guidelines have been developed from the perspective of learners, with a focus on online/blended/digital education for students who are presently at home due to lockdown.
  • It provides a roadmap or pointers for carrying forward online education to enhance the quality of education.
  • The guidelines will be relevant and useful for a diverse set of stakeholders including school heads, teachers, parents, teacher educators and students.
  • It stresses upon the use of an alternative academic calendar of NCERT, for both, learners having access to digital devices and learners having limited or no access.

 Major highlights

The guidelines highlight 3 modes of online education:

The guidelines outline suggestions for administrators, school heads, teachers, parents and students in the following areas:

  • Need assessment
  • Concerns while planning online and digital education like duration, screen time, inclusiveness, balanced online and offline activities etc level-wise
  • Modalities of intervention including resource curation, level-wise delivery etc.
  • Physical, mental health and wellbeing during digital education
  • Cyber safety and ethical practices including precautions and measures for maintaining cyber safety
  • Collaboration and convergence with various initiatives

Recommended screen time

Class Recommendation
Pre Primary Not more than 30 minutes.
Classes 1 to 12 Recommended to adopt/adapt the alternative academic calendar of NCERT
Classes 1 to 8 Not more than two sessions of 30-45 minutes each on the days
Classes 9 to 12 Not more than four sessions of 30-45 minutes each on the days

Guidelines for parents

  • For parents, the guideline helps to understand the need for physical, mental health and wellbeing along with the cyber safety measures for children at home.
  • Guidelines for physical health and mental wellness is stressed so that children do not get overly stretched or stressed, or get affected owing to prolonged use of digital devices.
  • Also, it provides sufficient Dos and Don’ts regarding ergonomics and cyber safety.

Digital India Initiatives

Google for India Digitization Fund (GIDF)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Google for India Digitization Fund (GIDF)

Mains level : Digital India

Technology giant Google will invest $10 billion (₹75,000 crores) in India as part of the ‘Google for India Digitization Fund (GIDF)’.

Practice question for mains:

Q.Discuss the role of foreign investment in the digital transformation of India.

About GIDF

  • The GIDF focuses on digitizing the economy and building India-first products and services.
  • The plan is in line with big-tech’s bullish outlook on India. Earlier this year, Amazon said it would invest an additional $1 billion in India.
  • This was followed by a marquee investment announcement of $5.7 billion by Facebook in the country’s largest telecom company Reliance Jio.
  • Last month, Microsoft’s venture fund M12 said it would open an office in India to pursue investment opportunities focusing on B2B software startups.

Focus areas

The investment will focus on four areas important to digitization including:

  • Enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language,
  • Building products and services that are deeply relevant to India’s unique needs,
  • Empowering businesses in their digital transformation journey and
  • Leveraging technology and AI for social good, in areas like health, education, and agriculture.

Digital India Initiatives

Digitising the state

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Overhauling India's digital payments, accounting and transactions.

This article examines the issues with governments account problems and their implications. It also suggests the ways to deal with the problems with data management in India.It is is line with the suggestions made by the CAG in this regard.

Problem with government account keeping

  • The Union budget grew from Rs 197 crore in 1947 to Rs 30 lakh crore last year.
  • Total government expenditure may be higher than Rs 70 lakh crore. (states+union)
  • But the form and manner of keeping accounts have more or less remained unchanged since Independence.
  • Manual transactions and manual payments often lead to manually entered data at different stages in different databases on different systems.
  • This makes data unreliable, violates the principle of “single source of truth”.
  • This also sabotages transparency and good governance.

Issues with computerisation by government

  • Government “computerisation” has often mechanised manual processes rather than “re-engineered processes”.
  • This has created siloed IT systems.
  • It has created various separate databases that lack modern data sharing protocols for organic linking like APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).
  • It leaves fiscal data being incomparable as basic as salary expenditure across states.
  • It creates the problem of obscurity in which large expenditures are booked under omnibus head called other.
  • Non-traceable actual expenditure against temporary advances drawn or funds drawn on contingent bills.
  • It creates the problem of misclassification so that grants in aid is classified as capital expenditure and bookings under suspense heads.

3 Steps to deal with the issues

1)  100% end-to-end data capture

  • All receipts and expenditure transactions including demands, assessment, and invoices should be received, processed, and paid electronically.

2)  Data governance for standards

  •  Data standards are rules for describing and recording data elements with precise meanings that enable integration, sharing, and interoperability.
  • Prescribing data elements for all transactions will ensure standardisation.
  • This standardisation will clarify ambiguity, minimise redundant data, and create protocols for integration across different databases across entities receiving government funds.
  • It will also integrate entities collecting revenues on behalf of the government, and those discharging core functions on behalf of the government.
  • Government-wide data standards coupled with real-time data captured end-to-end will enable the use of cognitive intelligence tools like analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning.
  • These tools, will support the establishment of budget baselines, detecting anomalies, data-driven project/activity costing, performance comparisons across departments and agencies, and benchmarking.

3) Technology architecture

  • The element of technology architecture must ensure that all IT government systems should conform to a prescribed open architecture framework.
  • This framework should ensure robust security and maintaining privacy.

How will these 3 steps help

  • It will help in recognising off-budget transactions, the last Union budget took steps towards this fiscal transparency and consolidation.
  • These steps will ensure business continuity: electronic records cannot be lost or misplaced like files or paper records.
  • It will also provide an incontrovertible audit trail.
  • It will enable Parliament and legislatures to draw “assurance” that each rupee due to the government has been collected, and each rupee has been spent for the purpose it was allocated.

Consider the question “Government expenditure has increased manifold since 1947 but the form and manner of keeping data have remained more or less the same. In light of this examine the issues with payments, accounting and transactions data system of the government. Suggest the measures to improve it.”

Conclusion

A citizen-centric view of a single source of truth encompassing every rupee of public money would make the 299 remarkable people who wrote India’s Constitution proud of this 21st-century citizen empowerment innovation.

Original Op-ed

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/digitising-the-state-6496692/

Digital India Initiatives

Reforming Digital policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Data privacy

Mains level : Paper 3- Importance of digital services for Indian economy

Pandemic has been ravaging the economies across the globe but digital services have escaped the onslaught and are thriving. For India, this could be an opportunity. This article highlights the importance of the sector and how some proposed measures could have an adverse impact on the sector.

Emerging trends in economies

  • Economic growth has dropped, and the competition for foreign investment is intensifying.
  • There are national campaigns to shift supply chains and the urgent necessity to reverse recessionary trends.
  • The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development just released its latest World Investment Report.
  • The report projected that FDI to developing Asian economies could drop by as much as 45%.

Why digital services would beat this trend

  • Digital services have become critical to every 21st century economy.
  • Digital services are filling gaps when national or global emergencies interrupt more traditional modes of commerce.
  • It enables access to and delivery of a wide array of products across multiple sectors.

How it matters for India

  • India offers undeniable potential for innovative homegrown start-ups.
  • India has a huge and increasingly digitised population.
  • Indian government policies will be key determinants in how quickly and at what level the economy attracts new investment.
  • Fostering innovation, and expanding its exporting prowess will also matter.

Three pending measure

  • Three pending reform measures under consideration are-
  • 1) Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB).
  • 2) The e-commerce policy.
  • 3) The Information Technology Act Amendments.

Issues with these measures

  • These regulatory reforms seem to emphasise a focus on protecting the domestic market for domestic companies.
  • It also prioritises government access to data.
  • It may be difficult to reconcile these approaches with India’s strong interest in i) promoting data privacy ii) protecting its democratic institutions iii) encouraging FDI and India’s position as a global leader in information technology.

India-US trade relationship issue

  • The India-U.S. trade relationship is uncertain.
  • The bilateral relationship is an important factor for greater trade and investment in digital services.
  • India and the U.S. are yet to conclude negotiation on a bilateral trade agreement that could address some digital services issues.
  • The U.S. just initiated a “Section 301” review.
  • The review seeks whether digital services taxes in 10 countries constitute “unfair” trade measures, including India’s equalisation levy.

Consider the question “Digital services have become critical to every 21st-century economy and more so for Indian economy. In light, highlight the salience of digital services for the Indian economy and what are the issues that could affect the growth trajectory of the sector in India?”

Conclusion

Post-COVID-19 international cooperation and approaches to good governance in the digital sphere will be top-priority initiatives. The steps India takes now could well establish itself as a true global leader.

Digital India Initiatives

Share the public data with public

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NDSAP

Mains level : Paper 2-Sharing of public data

Open access to public data is essential for policy analysis and evidence-based policymaking. Policy framework for sharing of public data by the government is also looked into in this article. 

How Open Data Charter came about

  • Open-source software enthusiasts and civil society activists in the U.S. and U.K. came with a demand to unlock the data gathered by governments for unfettered access and reuse by citizens.
  • Data collected at public expense must belong to the people. This is the principle for the Open Data Charter adopted by 22 countries since 2015.
  • It calls upon governments to disseminate public data in open digital formats.
  • In return, the Charter argues, governments can expect “innovative, evidence-based policy solutions”.

Steps toward making data accessible-NDSAP

  •  The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) was adopted in 2012.
  • It was a step towards making non-sensitive government data accessible online.
  • The main thrust of the policy is to “promote data sharing and enable access to Government of India owned data for national planning, development and awareness”.
  • The implementation guidelines for NDSAP include ideals such as “openness, flexibility, transparency, quality” of data.
  • It aims to facilitate “access to Government of India shareable data in machine-readable form”.
  • The guidelines prescribe open digital formats suitable for analysis and dissemination.
  • Opaque formats such as the portable document format and the image format are discouraged.
  • As part of the Open Government Data (OGD) initiative, data.gov.in was launched in 2012.
  • However, the implementation has lagged far behind its stated objectives.

How data could have helped policy making in Covid pandemic

  • The district-wise, demographic-wise case statistics and anonymous contact traces released in the public domain would have proved useful.
  • Reliable model forecasts of disease spread and targeted regional lockdown protocols could have been generated.
  • Model forecasts have limitations, but models without inputs from empirical data are even more unreliable.

Violation of OGD in data shared for pandemic

  • Principles of OGD notwithstanding, sufficiently granular infection data are not available.
  • Violating the data format guidelines, OGD portal provides COVID-19 data only as a graphic image unsuitable for any analysis.
  • The Indian Council of Medical Research and mygov.in fare no better.
  • They too do not publish district-wise statistics, and the available data are not in usable formats.

Examples from other countries

  • The data portals of Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. present district-wise COVID-19 cases data.
  • These countries also provide data about the emergent effects on mental health, jobs and education.
  • According to the latest report of the Open Data Barometer, an independent group measuring the impact of open data, these nations lead the pack.
  • India is a contender to reach the top bracket and not a laggard.

Way forward

  • The government must provide the impetus and incentive to exploit this voluminous data by invigorating the dated national data portal.
  • Every department must be mandated to share substantive data respecting privacy concerns.
  • The government should look within for examples of creative outcomes of opening up the database.
  • Start-ups have built novel applications using Indian Railways data to provide ticket confirmation prediction and real-time train status.

Consider the question “Examine the provisions for data sharing and accessibility in India. Also, elaborate how the sharing of public data could help in policymaking.”

Conclusion

Sharing public data is a way to create beneficial social impact. So, the government must ensure the implementation of policy measures and encourage the analysis of public data to come at the informed policy decision.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Instant PAN through Aadhaar based e-KYC

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PAN

Mains level : Income tax reforms in India

The Union Finance Ministry has launched the facility for instant allotment of (Permanent Account Number) PAN.

Try this question from CSP 2018:

Q.) Consider the following gatemen.

1. Aadhaar card can be used as a proof of citizenship or domicile.

2. Once issued, the Aadhaar number cannot be deactivated or omitted by the Issuing Authority.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Can’t you expect a similar question based on PAN card? If not , go through this newscard.

What is a Permanent Account Number?

  • A PAN is a ten-character alphanumeric identifier, issued in the form of a laminated “PAN card”, by the Income Tax Department.
  • It is issued to any “person” who applies for it or to whom the department allots the number without an application.
  • A PAN is a unique identifier issued to all judicial entities identifiable under the Indian Income Tax Act, 1961.
  • The income tax PAN and its linked card are issued under Section 139A of the Income Tax Act.
  • It is issued by the Indian Department under the supervision of the Central Board for Direct Taxes (CBDT) and it also serves as an important proof of identification.
  • It is also issued to foreign nationals (such as investors) subject to a valid visa, and hence a PAN card is not acceptable as proof of Indian citizenship.

Uses of PAN

  • The primary purpose of the PAN is to bring a universal identification to all financial transactions and to prevent tax evasion by keeping track of monetary transactions.
  • The PAN is mandatory when filing income tax returns, tax deduction at source, or any other communication with the IT Department.
  • PAN is also steadily becoming a mandatory document for opening a new bank account, a new landline telephone connection / a mobile phone connection, purchase of foreign currency, bank deposits above ₹50,000, purchase and sale of immovable properties, vehicles etc.

Why it is in the news?

  • A PAN is necessary for filing income tax returns.
  • This facility is now available for those PAN applicants who possess a valid Aadhaar number and have a mobile number registered with Aadhaar.
  • The allotment process is paperless and an electronic PAN (e-PAN) is issued to the applicants free of cost.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] UMANG Mobile App

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UMANG app services

Mains level : Utility of the UMANG app

To further enhance the initiatives of Digital India Programme, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) services have been brought on the “UMANG App”.

UPSC may puzzle you by asking a question such as: Which of the following services are included under UMANG App?  It would provide some ambiguous 5-6 options.

UMANG App

  • The UMANG is an acronym for Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance.
  • It is an all-in-one single, unified, secure, multi-channel, multi-platform, multi-lingual, multi-service mobile app, powered by a robust back-end platform providing access to high impact services of various organizations.
  • It was in 2017 to bring major government services on a single mobile app, with a larger goal to make the government accessible on the mobile phone of our citizens.
  • About 660 services from 127 departments & 25 states and about 180 utility bill payment services are live and more are in pipeline.
  • UMANG user base has crossed 2.1 Crore including Android, iOS, Web and KaiOS.
  • Citizens can also access their Digilocker from UMANG and give their feedback after availing any service through Rapid Assessment System (RAS) which has been integrated with UMANG.

Key features

  • Unified Platform: It brings together all government departments and their services on a single platform to provide better and easier services to citizens.
  • Mobile-First Strategy: It aligns all government services with the mobile-first strategy to leverage mobile adoption trends.
  • Integration with Digital India Services: It provides seamless integration with other Digital India Services like Aadhaar, DigiLocker, and PayGov. Any new such service will automatically be integrated with the platform.
  • Uniform Experience: It is designed to enable citizens to discover, download, access, and use all government services easily.
  • Secure and Scalable: It supports Aadhaar-based and other authentication mechanisms for service access. The sensitive profile data is saved in an encrypted format and no one can view this information.

Benefits for Citizens

  • Single-Point Ubiquitous Access: All government services are available for citizens on a unified platform for easy access through multiple online and offline channels (SMS, email, app, and web).
  • More for Less: Only a single mobile app needs to be installed instead of each app of each department.
  • Convenience: Citizens do not even need to install or update the app again to avail government services if more services are added to the platform.
  • Saving of Time and Money: Citizens can anytime and anywhere avail these services through their mobile phones, desktops, and laptops without any need for visiting the department office and standing in queues.
  • Uniform Experience: All the government services including payment-based transactions provide secure and uniform experience.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] CollabCAD tool to create 3D Computer Aided Designs

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CollabCAD tool and its utility

Mains level : Not Much

Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog and National Informatics Centre (NIC) jointly launched CollabCAD.

CollabCAD

  • It is a computer-enabled software system which provides a total engineering solution from 2D drafting & detailing to 3D product design.
  • It helps the user to build models in virtual 3d space and create and engineering drawings for the shop floor which makes it a complete package for smart manufacturing.
  • The aim of this initiative is to provide a great platform to students of Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs) across the country to create and modify 3d designs with free flow of creativity and imagination.
  • This software would also enable students to create data across the network and concurrently access the same design data for storage and visualization.

Back2Basics: Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)

  • The Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) is a flagship initiative set up by the NITI Aayog to promote innovation and entrepreneurship across the length and breadth of the country.
  • AlM’s objectives are to create and promote an ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship across the country at school, university, research institutions, MSME and industry levels.
  • At the school level, AIM establishes Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) in all districts across India. ATLs provide tinkering spaces to children to hone their innovative ideas and creativity.
  • At the university, NGO, SME and Corporate industry levels, AIM is setting up world-class Atal Incubators (AICs) that would trigger and enable successful growth of sustainable startups in every sector.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Swayam Prabha TV Channels

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SWAYAM prabha initiaitive

Mains level : DIgital learning initiaitives and their outreach in India

The HRD Ministry has taken several prompt, new and unique initiatives to ensure that the education of learners should not get affected by the challenging situation arising out of COVID 19. One of them is Swayamprabha TV channels.

There are various web/portals/apps with peculiar names such as YUKTI, DISHA, SWAYAM etc. Their core purpose is similar with slight differences. Pen them down on a separate sheet under the title various digital HRD initiatives.

SWAYAM Prabha

  • The SWAYAM Prabha is a group of 32 DTH channels devoted to telecasting of high-quality educational programmes on a 24X7 basis using the GSAT-15 satellite.
  • The channels are uplinked from BISAG, Gandhinagar. The contents are provided by NPTEL, IITs, UGC, CEC, IGNOU, NCERT and NIOS.
  • The INFLIBNET Centre maintains the web portal.
  • Every day, there will be new content for at least 4 hours which would be repeated 5 more times in a day, allowing the students to choose the time of their convenience.

The DTH Channels shall cover the following:

Higher Education: Curriculum-based course contents at post-graduate and under-graduate level covering diverse disciplines such as arts, science, commerce, performing arts, social sciences and humanities, engineering, technology, law, medicine, agriculture, etc.

School education (9-12 levels): Modules for teacher’s training as well as teaching and learning aids for children of India to help them understand the subjects better and also help them in preparing for competitive examinations for admissions to professional degree programmes.

Curriculum-based courses: These channels can meet the needs of life-long learners of Indian citizens in India and abroad.


Back2Basics: SWAYAM Portal

  • SWAYAM is a Hindi acronym that stands for “Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds” is an Indian Massive open online course (MOOC) platform.
  • It is an initiative launched by the Ministry of HRD, under Digital India to give a coordinated stage and free entry to web courses, covering all advanced education, High School and skill sector courses.
  • It was launched on 9th July 2017 by Honorable President of India.
  • The platform offers free access to everyone and hosts courses from class 9 till post-graduation.
  • It enables professors and faculty of centrally funded institutes like IITs, IIMs, IISERs, etc. to teach students.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] ‘Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ‘Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign

Mains level : Not Much

Union HRD Ministry has launched a week-long ‘Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign for Crowdsourcing of Ideas for Improving Online Education ecosystem of India.

‘Bharat Padhe Online’ campaign

  • Students and teachers are the main target audience of this campaign.
  • Students who are currently studying in schools or higher educational institutions are the ones engaging with the existing digital platforms offering various courses etc. on a daily basis.
  • They can share what is lacking in the existing online platforms and how it can be made more engaging.
  • The educators across the country can also come forward to contribute with their expertise and experience in the field of education.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Integrated Government Online Training (iGOT)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : iGOT portal, DIKSHA Portal

Mains level : Not Much

The Union govt. has launched a training module for management of COVID-19 named ‘Integrated Government Online training’ (iGOT) on DIKSHA platform of MHRD.

About iGOT

  • It is training module for management of COVID-19 on DIKSHA platform for the capacity building of frontline workers to handle the COVID-19 pandemic efficiently.
  • Courses on iGOT have been launched specially for Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Hygiene Workers, Technicians, Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANMs), State Government Officers, Civil Defence Officers, Various Police Organisations.
  • They are also available to NCC corps, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), NSS volunteers, Indian Red Cross Society, Bharat Scouts and Guides and other volunteers at the stage.

Back2Basics: DIKSHA Portal

  • HRD ministry has launched Diksha Portal (diksha.gov.in) for providing a digital platform to a teacher to make their lifestyle more digital.
  • It aims to serve as National Digital Infrastructure for Teachers.
  • The portal will cover the whole teacher’s life cycle – from the time they were enrolled as student teachers in Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs) to after they retire as teachers.
  • It will enable, accelerate and amplify solutions in the realm of teacher education. It will aid teachers to learn and train themselves for which assessment resources will be available.

Digital India Initiatives

The Covid-19 crisis could bring the country up to digital speed

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3- Application of digitalisation in healthcare and judiciary.

Context

The Covid-19 pandemic gives us a chance to re-evaluate the worth of two major initiatives of the government: demonetization and digitization.

Importance of digitalisation in pandemic

  • The importance of digitization in a pandemic cannot be exaggerated when we are repeatedly told to maintain social distance and work from home in order to avoid infection.
  • Consider how nigh impossible it would be to avoid contact with retail cashiers and point-of-sale (PoS) terminals if we were to use credit cards and cash to pay for our daily necessities.
  • Today, most bill payments have moved online and barring older people, who may prefer to pay their electricity bills at physical counters, digitization is delivering in spades.
  • But digitization is not just about payments and financial transactions. Consider what all will happen as the current lockdown persists across the country.

Application in the judiciary

  • Courts are beginning to use video-conferencing to conduct hearings. It is ironic that something that should have been done years ago to hasten hearings is now being done to prevent infections.
  • India’s judiciary has been resisting technology for as long as one can remember.
  • Witnesses do not have to drag themselves to court every day; they can video-record their statements in advance, and submit themselves to questioning through Skype or other such video-calling apps.
  • When the entire case is recorded, the possibility of judges conducting trials in an unfair way gets substantially reduced, for those at the receiving end of judicial injustice can seek retrials based on video recordings.
  • These recordings will also enable the higher judiciary to figure out who its good judges are, and who adopts dilatory tactics and frequent adjournments, delaying justice.
  • At some point, a judicial appointments commission will have video records of all judges shortlisted for promotions. They will thus know whom to recommend for elevation and whom to sideline. Corruption is also likely to come down.

Application in the healthcare sector

  • In the current Covid-19 crisis, doctors and nurses are putting themselves at huge risk, and so are those handling millions of samples of throat swabs that need to be analysed for the virus
  • Applications: Remote patient examinations, analysis of symptoms with the help of databases and algorithms, and even the basic task of taking down a new patient’s medical history can all be done remotely through a digital app or interface.
  • The doctor will know even before he has met the patient what could be wrong, something she only has to confirm after interacting with the patient.
  • India is spending humongous amounts of money, and so are to-be doctors, to master medical knowledge that doubles every 75 days. In short, by the time your average MBBS doctor completes his or her degree, much of that knowledge could be outdated.
  • He or she has to use technology to update himself or herself, and also rely on databases and artificial intelligence to deliver healthcare without the risk of misdiagnosis.
  • India may be spending too much on training doctors at a cost of millions of rupees per head when a lot of that money could have been spent on technology to deliver competent and lower-cost healthcare.

Conclusion

If we just stop to think where we would have been in this pandemic but for digital technology, we would recognize the importance of going digital. It should make us think of how to convert the Covid-19 disruption into an agenda that brings us up to technological speed in various spheres of human activity.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] SPICe+ web form

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SPICe+

Mains level : Not Much

 

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has launched SPICe+ web form.

SPICe+

  • It would offer 10 services by 3 Central Govt Ministries & Departments (Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance) and One State Government (Maharashtra).
  • It saves as many procedures, time and cost for Starting a Business in India and would be applicable for all new company incorporations.

Following are the features of the new Spice+ web form:

  • SPICe+ would be an integrated Web Form.
  • SPICe+ would have two parts viz.: Part A-for Name reservation for new companies and Part B offering a bouquet of services viz.
  • Registration for Profession Tax shall also be mandatory for all new companies to be incorporated in the State of Maharashtra through SPICe+.
  • All new companies incorporated through SPICe+ would also be mandatorily required to apply for opening the company’s Bank account through the AGILE-PRO linked web form.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] ASKDISHA Chatbot

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Ask DISHA Chatbot

Mains level : Applications of AI

 

In order to resolve queries of railway passengers over the internet pertaining to various services offered, Indian Railways had introduced the services of Artificial Intelligence-based ASKDISHA chatbot in October 2018 for the benefit of the users.

ASKDISHA Chatbot

  • IRCTC had launched this chat bot to answer various queries about ticket booking, cancellation and various value-added services.
  • The chatbot is a special computer programme designed to simulate conversation with users, especially over the internet.
  • It was jointly developed by IRCTC and CoRover Private Limited, a Bangalore-based startup.
  • The first-of-its-kind initiative by IRCTC is aimed at facilitating accessibility by answering users’ queries pertaining to various services offered to railway passengers.

What is the new update?

  • The ASKDISHA Chatbot was initially launched in English language but in order to further enhance the customer services rendered.
  • To further strengthen the services of the chatbot, IRCTC has now powered voice-enabled ASKDISHA to converse with customers in Hindi language also in the e-ticketing site irctc.co.in.
  • The customers can now ask queries to ASKDISHA in Hindi language by voice as well as text.
  • On an average, around three thousand enquiries are being handled by ASKDISHA in Hindi language on daily basis and the figure is increasing day by day which also shows the acceptability of the new feature by the customer.
  • IRCTC plans to launch ASKDISHA in more languages along with many other additional features in the near future.

Digital India Initiatives

Riding on data for mobility

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Applying digital revolution to transform governance.

Context

Data-based governance can assist in reducing traffic congestion, as illustrated by a pilot study in Hyderabad.

How the Digital revolution is transforming lives

  • Seamless and efficient interaction: The digital revolution has made interactions between humans and machines, and among citizens, governments and businesses, seamless and efficient.
  • Helping efficient delivery of services: Today, e-governance enables and empowers citizens to directly engage with the state, thereby eliminating barriers in the delivery of public services.
  • The next wave of transformation: The next wave of transformation in digital governance is at the intersection of data and the public good.
    • Data as a strategic asset: The key to this transformation lies in incorporating data as a strategic asset in all aspects of-
    • Policy.
    • Planning.
    • Service delivery and-
    • Operations of the government.

Transportation system improvement by leveraging Digital revolution

  • Loss caused by the congestion
    • Congestion caused an estimated $24 billion to the four metro cities in India in 2018.
    • Given the limited land resources available, the key to solving congestion lies in improving the efficiency of existing transportation systems.
  • How can Digital revolution help tackle the problem?
    • An efficient transportation system would help ease congestion, reduce travel time and cost, and provide greater convenience.
    • How it will work? Data from multiple sources such as-
    • CCTV cameras.
    • Automatic traffic 
    • Map services and-
    • Transportation service providers could be used.
  • Results of the previous studies
    • London example: A study by Transport for London estimates that its open data initiative on sharing of real-time transit data has helped add £130 million a year to London’s economy by improving productivity and efficiency.
    • Results from China: In China, an artificial intelligence-based traffic management platform developed by Alibaba has helped improve average speeds by 15%.

Hyderabad Open Transit Data portal

  • Hyderabad Open Transit Data, launched by Open Data Telangana, is the country’s first data portal.
    • What does it do? It publishes datasets on bus stops, bus routes, metro routes, metro stations, schedules, fares, and frequency of public transit services.
  • The objective of the portal: The objective is to empower start-ups and developers to create useful mobility applications.
    • The datasets were built after an intensive exercise carried out by the Open Data Team and Telangana State Road Transport Corporation to collect, verify and digitise the data.
  • Collaboration with the private sector: Hyderabad has also begun collaborating with the private sector to improve traffic infrastructure.
    • MoU with Ola Mobility Institute: One such partnership followed a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Telangana government and Ola Mobility Institute.
    • Monitoring the quality of roads in the city: Under this collaboration, Ola has developed a tool, Ola City Sense, to provide data-based insights that can monitor the quality of Hyderabad’s roads and identify bad quality patches.
    • Other areas in which the data is used: The information thus given is useful not only for carrying out road repairs, it also helps officials take initiatives to improve road safetymonitor quality of construction, and study the role of bad roads in causing congestion.
  • A pilot project to prioritisation of repairs: A pilot was implemented in a municipal zone to gauge the efficacy of the data in supporting road monitoring and prioritisation of repairs.
    • The early results of this pilot project were encouraging. The dashboard helped city officials plan the pre-monsoon repair work and budget for repairs last year.

Conclusion

  • The willingness of the government to apply data-based insights: The Hyderabad project and the pilot demonstrated the willingness of government departments to apply data-based insights for better decision making.
    • This could also serve as a model for other cities to emulate.
  • Making the departments data-centric: The Hyderabad example also shows that governments can make their departments data-centric by-
    • Institutionalising data collection.
    • Building technology platforms.
    • And helping the departments develop the capacity to handle the insights generated from the data.
    • Smart cities as a starting point: Command and control centres under the ‘smart cities’ initiative can be an ideal starting point.
    • Data security and privacy: Such interventions, however, also need to address genuine concerns around data security and privacy.

 

 

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] SERVICE Initiative

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SERVICE Initiative

Mains level : NA

The Steel Authority of India Ltd has launched an initiative called SERVICE to promote Voluntary Philanthropist Activities (VPA) by its employees.

About SERVICE

  • SERVICE stands for “SAIL Employee Rendering Voluntarism and Initiatives for Community Engagement (SERVICE)”.
  • It aims to promote and facilitate philanthropist activities by the employees in a structured manner.
  • The Minister also launched a portal for the employees to register for the scheme.
  • This dedicated portal will act as a platform for enabling faster interaction and communication amongst the various stakeholders.

Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed of the day] Business possibilities in a world of digital payments

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 3-Potentials of UPI in increasing digital payments.

Context

UPI has brought digital payments to the common man and it has immense scope for growth.

Zero MDR rate

  • Recently the finance minister made the announcement of the zero merchant discount rate (MDR) policy for payments through RuPay debit cards and Unified Payments Interface (UPI) instruments.
  • What does it mean? This policy dictates that when a consumer pays a merchant using RuPay or UPI, the bank may not charge the merchant a commission on the sale value that it usually charges a merchant.
  • Criticism of the move: Critics of this policy lament that it would begin to reverse the progress India has made in recent years to expand the digital payments network.

Some facts and figures

  • Setting up of NPCI: In 2008 the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) was set up as an umbrella organization for operating retail payments and settlements in India
  • UPI:  In 2016, NPCI introduced UPI.
    • UPI has since registered 100 million users.
    • UPI now clocks more than 1 billion transactions every month.
  • Growth prospects for mobile payments: According to the NITI Aayog, mobile payments in India are expected to grow nearly 20-fold to $190 billion in the next three years.
  • Digital payment for the common man: There are 1 billion mobile phone users in India.
  • 420 million users have a feature phone, these users can use the *99# USSD service to dial into 13 different languages.
  • Which would connect them to UPI and brings digital payments to the common man.

Need for innovation

  • We are far behind: India is far behind china, where 55% of spending is done digitally, compared to only 11% in India.
    • The outlook for future growth is mind-boggling.
    • There is a need for innovation at three levels.
  • First level-Adoption
    • A better understanding of human behaviour, technology, use cases and dis-use cases will facilitate the 10x growth necessary in adoption rates to cover the entire population.
  • Second level-Policy
    • The government has the rare opportunity to develop a data-centric understanding of how the economy conducts itself and uses money, and can set taxes accordingly.
  • Third level-Technology
    • Voice for authentication: At the technology level, there is an opportunity to use voice as a means for authentication and conduct transactions across multiple local languages.
    • Data analysis: Copious amounts of data from payment transactions can be analysed to understand user needs and develop personalized loans and financial solutions at scale.

Taking UPI to Global Level

  • UPI in Singapore and UAE: The NCPI is gearing up to take UPI to other countries, beginning with Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.
    • NCPI is working with its counterpart in Singapore, the Network for Electronic Transfers for Singapore, to bring UPI live in Singapore.
  • The low hanging fruit is to provide payment solutions to Indians travelling abroad.
  • Competition with global peers: The bigger and tougher game is to increase its usage among local people in countries outside India.
    • This would put UPI in competition with the likes of PayPal and Skrill.

Conclusion

We have seen just the tip, albeit a very substantial tip, of the digital payments iceberg. In the coming years, young business leaders of today must learn to uncover the iceberg itself.

 

 

 

 

Digital India Initiatives

‘MANI’ app

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MANI app

Mains level : Eliminating counterfeit currency notes

With an eye to aid the differently-abled, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has launched a mobile app to identify currency notes.

MANI App

  • ‘MANI’, is an acronym for Mobile Aided Note Identifier.
  • The visually challenged can identify the denomination of a note by using the application, which can also work offline once it is installed.
  • A user will have to scan the notes using the camera and it will give the audio output to give out results in Hindi and English.
  • RBI has clarified that the app does not authenticate a note as either genuine or counterfeit.

Digital India Initiatives

National Broadband Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Features of the mission

Mains level : Various initiatives for digital empowerment of rural India

The union government has launched the National Broadband Mission (NBM).

National Broadband Mission (NBM)

  • It is aimed at providing broadband access in all villages in the country by 2022, entailing investments of around ₹7 lakh crore from various stakeholders.
  • The vision of the NBM is to fast track growth of digital communications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide, facilitate digital empowerment and inclusion and provide affordable and universal access of broadband for all.

Objectives of the mission

Some of the objectives of the Mission which is structured with strong emphasis on the three principles of universality, affordability and quality are:

  • Broadband access to all villages by 2022
  • Laying of incremental 30 lakhs route km of Optical Fiber Cable and increase in tower density from 0.42 to 1.0 tower per thousand of population by 2024
  • Develop a Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) to measure the availability of digital communications infrastructure and conducive policy ecosystem within a State/UT.
  • Creation of a digital fiber map of the Digital Communications network and infrastructure, including Optical Fiber Cables and Towers, across the country

Digital India Initiatives

Government Instant Messaging System (GIMS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GIMS

Mains level : Cyber Security


The government is testing a prototype of an Indian equivalent of popular messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, for secure internal use.

Government Instant Messaging System

  • Codenamed GIMS the platform is in the pilot testing stage across some states, including Odisha — and is learnt to have been released to the Indian Navy to be tried out on trial basis.
  • It is designed and developed by the Kerala unit of National Informatics Centre (NIC).
  • It is being packaged for employees of Central and state government departments and organisations for intra and inter-organisation communications.
  • Besides one-to-one messaging and group messaging, there are specific provisions in GIMS for documents and media sharing in keeping with the hierarchies in the government system.

Why need GIMS?

  • It is being developed as a secure Indian alternative without the security concerns attached with apps hosted abroad or those owned by foreign entities.
  • Like WhatsApp, GIMS employs end-to-end encryption for one-to-one messaging.
  • The launch of the new app comes amid the recent controversy over the WhatsApp breach through a spyware called Pegasus.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Gandhipedia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gandhipedia

Mains level : Gandhian values and thier significance

The Government is developing ‘Gandhi Encyclopedia’ to spread awareness in the society.

Gandhipedia

  • The project is at present being designed by the National Council for Science and Museums. It will be jointly implemented by IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Gandhinagar.
  • It is being developed as a social media portal that will contain original works related to the Father of the Nation.
  • It aims for promotion of appropriate Gandhian philosophy and thoughts through social media platforms under 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi Ji.
  • The portal will function on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine running.

Features

  • The portal will contain original photographs, visuals, speeches and the 100 collected works of Gandhiji.
  • Books by Gandhiji will also be available on the portal apart from books that have been written on him.
  • It will be free for access to everybody.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] RailWire Wi-Fi

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RailWire

Mains level : Various Digital India initiatives

Indian Railways has successfully completed the work of providing free public Wi-Fi at 5500 stations across the country.  This is a unique initiative as this Wi-Fi network is one of the largest Wi-Fi networks in the world.

RailWire

  • To transform the Railway stations into the hub of Digital inclusion, Indian Railways mandated RailTel, a Miniratna PSU under Ministry of Railways, to provide free high-speed Wi-Fi at the Railway stations.
  • The journey started in January 2016 from the financial capital of India – Mumbai Central station and in a span of 46 months Railways has successfully provided Wi-Fi at 5500 stations across the country.
  • The mission is to provide Wi-Fi at all Railway stations (except the halt ones).
  • The Wi-Fi is being provided under the brand name of RailWire.

Digital India Initiatives

National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NATGRID

Mains level : Significance of NATGRID


The ambitious National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) project will be operational by December 31, 2020, the Lok Sabha was informed recently.

NATGRID

  • The project, initially started in 2009 with a budget of ₹2,800 crore, is an online database for collating scattered pieces of information and putting them together on one platform.
  • NATGRID is exempted from the Right to Information Act, 2005 under sub-section (2) of Section 24.
  • The NATGRID links intelligence and investigation agencies.
  • At least 10 Central government agencies, such as the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing and others will have access to the data on a secured platform.
  • NATGRID has developed application software for proof of technology (POT) which is yet to be fully rolled out. NATGRID solution is planned to go live by 31.12.2020.

Utility of NATGRID

  • The NATGRID will enable multiple security and intelligence agencies to access a database related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details, among others, from a common platform.
  • The 10 user agencies will be linked independently with certain databases which will be procured from 21 providing organisations including telecom, tax records, bank, immigration etc. to generate intelligence inputs.

Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed snap] Kerala’s plan for providing free Internet access to the poor is worthy of emulation by others

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Internet as a right

Context

Kerala could have near-universal Internet access in a year’s time. 

The project

    • Last week, the state cabinet for the Kerala Fibre Optic Network project cleared the path for a Kerala-wide optical fiber network by December 2020.
    • It recognised that Internet access is a basic human right. No other Indian State has recognised Internet access in this manner till now. 
    • This is also in sync with the UN.
    • It aims to touch every household in Kerala by delivering free Internet access to over two million BPL families. It aims to charge affordable rates for other families. 
    • It is to be set up by the Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd. and the Kerala State IT Infrastructure Ltd., 
    • It will connect 30,000 government offices and educational institutions. 
    • When complete, a State that already tops in human development indicators in the country, will be ready for a steep digital evolution.

Importance

    • Rights – The role of the Internet in enabling freedom of speech and reducing inequality is huge.
    • Progress – India has made huge leaps in providing Internet access to its people in recent years.
    • A good part of the growth till now can be attributed to cheap data plans, triggered by the advent of Reliance Jio. According to a recent study by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and Nielsen, the country has 451 million active Internet users.

Gaps remain

    • Huge in number – Internet have-nots still exist in the millions.
    • Urban > Rural- Internet penetration is significantly higher in urban areas than it is in rural areas.
    • Gender gap – It is also significantly higher for men than it is for women. 
    • Regional gaps – The best-performing State, Delhi-NCR, has an Internet penetration of 69%. The second-best is Kerala, with just 54%. 
    • Tech companies – Global technology companies have in recent years eyed the huge population of Internet have-nots as an opportunity. Some, like Facebook, came up with an idea of free access to a list of chosen sites. 

Conclusion

There is no doubt that governments need to play an interventionist role in plugging this gap. Kerala could set a healthy example.

Digital India Initiatives

BHIM 2.0

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BHIM 2.0

Mains level : Promoting digital payments in India


  • The IT Ministry unveiled a slew of new initiatives and programmes, including BHIM 2.0 that packs-in new functionalities, support additional languages and has increased transaction limits.

BHIM 2.0

  • BHIM app, a UPI based payment interface developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) that allows real-time fund transfer, was launched in December 2016.
  • Some of the striking features marking BHIM 2.0 include a ‘Donation’ gateway, increased transaction limits for high-value transactions, linking multiple bank accounts, offers from merchants, the option of applying in IPO, gifting money etc.
  • The new version of BHIM also supports three additional languages — Konkani, Bhojpuri and Haryanvi — over and above the existing 13.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti

Mains level : Various Digital India initiatives

Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti

  • Union Ministry of State for Culture & Tourism has launched the E-Portal of CCRT ‘Digital Bharat Digital Sanskriti’ and CCRT YouTube Channel.
  • This will enable dissemination of cultural education through digital interactive medium into the classrooms all over the country.
  • For this initiative, CCRT has tied up with Routes 2 Roots, an NGO, for connecting seamlessly all the CCRT Regional Centres i.e., Guwahati, Udaipur and Hyderabad.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] GOAL (Going Online as Leaders) Initiative

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GOAL

Mains level : Various Digital India initiatives


  • Union Ministry of Tribal Affairannounced the second phase of GOAL (Going Online as Leaders) initiative.

About GOAL

  • It is a Facebook program aimed at inspiring, guiding and encouraging tribal girls from across India to become village-level digital young leaders for their communities.
  • Launched earlier this year in March, GOAL connects underprivileged young tribal women with senior expert mentors in the areas of business, fashion and arts to learn digital and life skills.
  • In the second phase of the program, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Fb together will digitally mentor 5000 young women in India’s tribal dominated districts.

Initiatives under GOAL

  • The GOAL program will provide economically and socially marginalized young women with the tools and guidance they need to succeed, using technology they may otherwise have not had access to.
  • The program will include weekly one-to-one mentoring sessions, focused on a range of skills such as digital literacy, entrepreneurship and online safety.
  • In total, more than 200,000 hours of guidance will be provided using Facebook family of apps including WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Consumer App

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the app and its features

Mains level : Consumer awareness measures


  • In order to fast-track consumer grievance redressal process and provide an effective forum for consumers to give their valuable suggestions Union Minister of Consumer Affairs launched the ‘Consumer App’.

Consumer App

  • The app aims to provide a one stop solution for consumer grievance redressal at the palm of every consumer across the nation via mobile phones.
  • The complaint status will be monitored on a daily basis by the ministry and on a weekly basis by the minister personally.
  • The registered consumer will be informed about their complaint via SMS/E-mail with a unique number which can be tracked by the consumer.
  • The knowledgebase available in the app is very useful feature that will help consumers get information pertaining to 42 Sectors including Consumer Durables, Electronic Products, e-commerce, Banking, Insurance, etc.

Grievance redressal

  • There will be time bound resolution of all grievances and those that are simple in nature will be resolved within 20 days.
  • Those that elicit a feedback from companies or further enquiries will be resolved within 2 months/60 days.
  • If after 60 days the grievance is not resolved, the consumer will be advised to proceed to consumer fora.
  • Also, now the consumer will be informed before closure of a complaint and if the consumer is not satisfied then the complaint will be referred further to the concerned department.

Digital India Initiatives

World Digital Competitiveness Ranking (WDCR) 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the ranking

Mains level : Digital competitiveness in India


  • India has advanced four places to 44th position in terms of digital competitiveness in the world.

About the ranking

  • The Ranking, produced by the IMD World Competitiveness Center, measures the capacity and readiness of 63 nations to adopt and explore digital technologies as a key driver for economic transformation in business, government and wider society.
  • To evaluate an economy, WDCR examines three factors:
  1. Knowledge: the capacity to understand and learn the new technologies;
  2. Technology: the competence to develop new digital innovations; and
  3. Future readiness: the preparedness for the coming developments.

India’s progress

  • India rose from 48th place in 2018 to 44th rank this year as the country has improved overall in all factors — knowledge, technology and future readiness — as compared to the previous year’s ranking.
  • India has made improvement in terms of knowledge and future readiness to adopt and explore digital technologies, according to a global report.

Global scenario

  • The US was ranked as the world’s most digitally competitive economy, followed by Singapore in the second place.
  • Sweden was ranked third on the list, followed by Denmark and Switzerland in the 4th and 5th place, respectively.
  • Others in the list of top-10 most digitally competitive economy include Netherlands in the 6th place, Finland (7th), Hong Kong SAR (8th), Norway (9th) and Republic of Korea (10th).
  • The largest jump in the overall ranking was registered by China, moving from 30th to 22nd, and Indonesia, from 62nd to 56th.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Inflight and Maritime Telecom Connectivity in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FMC Rules

Mains level : Read the attached story


  • Union Ministry for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology has launched the maritime communication services.

Providing Maritime connectivity

  • Nelco India’s leading VSAT solutions provider is the first Indian company that will now provide quality broadband services to the maritime sector.
  • Nelco through global partnerships, infrastructure including transponder capacity on satellite of ISRO and a comprehensive service portfolio
  • It will help Energy, Cargo and Cruise vessels by enhancing operational efficiency, improving crew welfare and enabling customer services.
  • Maritime Connectivity will enable high-end support to those in sea by providing access to Voice, Data and Video services while traveling on sailing vessels, cruise liners, ships in India, using satellite technology.

Making it possible through IFMC license

  • In December 2018, the Govt. announced the licenses for In-flight and Maritime Communications (IFMC) that allows voice and internet services while flying over the Indian skies and sailing in Indian waters.
  • The IFMC licence has not only enabled connectivity for on-board users on ships but also brings operational efficiencies for shipping companies which were less evolved until now.
  • The IFMC license is a key initiative of the Telecom Ministry, a move to liberalise satellite communication services in India.
  • It permits both international and Indian aircrafts and vessels.

FMC Rules

  • In a major policy decision, Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications had notified the Flight and Maritime Connectivity (FMC) Rules, 2018 on 14th December, 2018.
  • It permits voice and data service provisioning in flights and ships.
  • The intent is to open the airspace and territorial waters for telecommunication services for general public which was not possible earlier due to lack of enabling rules.
  • Rules envisage creation of satellite gateway within India for providing telecom services in aircraft and ships through Indian licensed service providers.
  • Further, Indian satellite bandwidth has to be utilised. If a foreign satellite is used, it has to be approved by ISRO.
  • Only the authorized IFMC service provider, can provide wireless voice or data or both type of services on ships within Indian territorial waters and on aircraft within or above India or Indian territorial waters.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BSID

Mains level : Utility of BSID

  • India has become the first country in the world to issue Biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID), capturing the facial bio-metric data of seafarers.

About BSID

  • In India the BSID project has been taken up in collaboration with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Mumbai.
  • The Government notified the Merchant Shipping (Seafarers Bio-metric Identification Document) Rules in 2016.
  • Every Indian seafarer who possesses a valid Continuous Discharge Certificate issued by the Govt. of India will be eligible for issue of a BSID.
  • Nine data collection centers have been setup  at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Noida, Goa, New Mangalore, Kochi, Vizag & Kandla for issue of BSID.

Working of BSID

  • It introduces modern security features.  It will have a biometric chip embedded in it.
  • The security of the BSID card is ensured at various levels and through different methods.
  • At the time of data capturing the live face is cross matched through passport photo using a face matching software.
  • The card has two optical security features- Micro prints/micro texts and Unique Guilloche pattern.
  • A software has been developed for capturing the facial biometrics and its authentication through the public key infrastructure.
  • A record of each SID issued will be maintained in a national database and its related information will be internationally accessible.

Benefits

  • The BSID is a marked improvement over the two finger or iris based bio-metric data, with modern security features.
  • It will make the identification of the SID holder more reliable and efficient, while protecting their dignity and privacy.
  • It will give a foolproof identification to our seafarers which will facilitate their movement, provide ease of getting jobs and help in identifying them from any location in the world.
  • The new card is in confirmation of the Convention No. 185 of the International Labour Organisation on BSID. (India ratified the Convention in October 2015.)

Digital India Initiatives

Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas Campaign

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the campaign

Mains level : Read the attached story

About the Campaign

  • The Union government has decided to roll out its People’s Plan Campaign, also known as Sabki Yojana Sabka Vikas.
  • It aims to draw up a development plan for each Gram Panchayat (GP) in the country and place it on a website where anyone can see the status of the government’s flagship schemes such as SBM and PM Awas Yojana, etc.

Creating GP Development Plans

  • Gram Panchayats have been mandated for the preparation of GPDP for economic development and social justice utilizing the resources available to them.
  • The GPDP planning process will be comprehensive and participatory by involving full convergence with the schemes of all related Central Ministries / Line Departments.

How will GPDP work?

  • The process of creating Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs) requires each GP being scored on an array of 48 indicators.
  • It will cover various aspects such as health and sanitation, education, agriculture, housing, roads, drinking water, electrification, poverty alleviation programmes, social welfare etc.
  • After each GP is scored out of 100 — with 30 marks for infrastructure, 30 marks for human development, and 40 marks for economic activity — the GPs will be ranked.
  • The data on the 48 indicators would come from Census 2011 (for physical infrastructure), Socio-Economic Caste Census 2011 (for Household-level deprivation data), and fresh survey starting September that will be carried out by local facilitators.

Defining priorities

  • The score for each GP will reflect the local needs and priorities. For instance, for a drought-prone area, water conservation would be accorded the highest priority.
  • Within this ranking, households suffering the worst deprivations would be prioritised further.
  • This entire ranking exercise is meant to identify the gaps at the GP level, make an assessment of where it stands, and accordingly plan the interventions.

Digital India Initiatives

Biometric Token System

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BTS

Mains level : Reforms in railway sector


  • The Western and Central Railways have introduced a new Biometric Token System (BTS) that seeks to streamline the process of boarding unreserved coaches.

What is Biometric Token System (BTS)?

  • The Western and Central Railways have introduced a new system by which passengers travelling in the general coach, where seats are not reserved, are given a token roughly three hours before the train’s departure.
  • These tokens are given on a first-come, first-served basis, and carry a serial number on them, which governs the order in which passengers will board the train.
  • Passengers with valid tickets are required to place their fingers on a scanner, and are issued a token with a serial number against their biometric data.
  • Passengers must queue up and enter the compartment in the order of their serial numbers.
  • The tokens are issued three hours before a train’s departure. The use of biometrics cuts out the touts, and helps genuine passengers.

Why such move?

  • Boarding ‘general’ compartments — in which seating is not reserved — especially in long-distance trains leaving major cities, has always been an ordeal for passengers.
  • The massive mismatch between the numbers of travellers and the available seats drives people to queue up on platforms up to 10 hours in advance.
  • Chaos at the time of boarding has led to stampedes and even deaths in the past.
  • Gangs of touts ‘reserve’ seats for a price, and those who can’t pay suffer.

Why use BTS?

  • The use of biometrics (fingerprint) rules out touts and ensures only bonafide travellers receive a token.
  • The data (captured in the machines) will be used to analyse the pattern of crowds and the patronage of trains.
  • In case of a mishap, officials will have details of the passengers, and with the help of this (biometric information) they can prevent black marketing of unreserved tickets.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Broadband Readiness Index (BRI)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : BRI

Mains level : Utility of the BRI

Broadband Readiness Index (BRI)

  • The Department of Telecom and the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) signed a MoU to develop a Broadband Readiness Index (BRI) for Indian States and UTs.
  • The first estimate will be made in 2019 and subsequently every year until 2022.

Why such index?

  • The National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP) 2018 acknowledged the need for building a robust digital communications infrastructure leveraging existing assets of the broadcasting and power sectors.
  • Accordingly the policy recommended that a BRI for States and UTs be developed to attract investments and address Right of Way challenges across India.

Utility of the index

  • This index will appraise the condition of the underlying digital infrastructure and related factors at the State/UT level.
  • Such an exercise will provide useful insights into strategic choices made by States for investment allocations in ICT programmes.
  • In the spirit of competitive federalism, the index will encourage states to cross learn and jointly participate in achieving the overall objective of digital inclusion and development in India.
  • The framework will not only evaluate a state’s relative development but will also allow for better understanding of a state’s strengths and weaknesses that can feed into evidence-based policy making.

BRI of components

  • Part I will focus on infrastructure development based on the measurement of nine parameters.
  • Part II consists of demand side parameters which will be captured through primary surveys.
  • It will include indicators such as percentage of households using computers/ laptops with internet connection, percentage of households with fixed broadband connection, internet users as a percentage of the population, smart phones density, percentage of households with at least one digitally literate member, etc.
  • This will be a first of its kind exercise that will comprehensively measure the development of telecom infrastructure at the sub national level.

Digital India Initiatives

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NDHM

Mains level : Need for digital health record

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recommended the setting up of a National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) to manage “enormous amounts of health data” generated by Ayushman Bharat, the Centre’s flagship health programme.

National Digital Health Mission (NDHM)

  • The NDHM would provide technology to manage and analyse data, and create a system of personal health records and health applications. Central to the “ecosystem” would be a Personal Health Identifier (PHI) to maintain a Personal Health Record (PHR).
  • The PHI would contain the names of patients and those of their immediate family, date of birth, gender, mobile number, email address, location, family ID and photograph.
  • While Aadhaar assures uniqueness of identity and provides an online mechanism for authentication, it cannot be used in every health context as per the applicable regulations.
  • The design of PHI, therefore, must allow multiple identifiers (chosen from the specified types of identifiers) for designing the structure and processes relating to PHI.

Blueprint of the mission

  • The Health Ministry has decided to consult Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar, and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in the design of the PHI.
  • These recommendations come from a National Digital Health Blueprint (NDHB) created by a committee.
  • The 14-member committee included officials from the Health Ministry, state governments, NITI Aayog, MeitY, National eGovernance Division (NeGD), NIC, CDAC and AIIMS.
  • The panel envisions the new Mission to be autonomous like UIDAI and GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network).
  • It would be partly funded by the government but will also “raise a part of its funding through a transaction fee” with private players.
  • The committee has also suggested a Command, Control, and Communication Center (CCCC) as a single point of contact in public health emergencies.
  • It estimates that all the components of the Mission would take about 18 months to develop.

Digital India Initiatives

Gandhipedia ‘to sensitize society’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gandhipedia

Mains level : Importance of Gandhian thoughts

  • A “Gandhipedia” was being developed in order to sensitize society, particularly the youth, about Gandhian values, Finance Minister informed in her Budget 2019-2010 speech.

What is Gandhipedia?

  • With the government marking the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi with several programmes throughout the year, an encyclopedia-like “Gandhipedia” would be among the efforts to spread his values.
  • The National Council for Science Museums (NCSM), based in Kolkata, is developing a Gandhipedia “to sensitize” youth and society “at large” about positive Gandhian values.
  • This comes about 10 months after President launched a web portal http://gandhi.gov.in/ to provide people with free access to an online repository of Gandhian literature, philosophy, audios, videos and rare photographs of the Father of nation
  • The Minister, however, did not share more details on ‘Gandhipedia’ project of the NCSM, which functions under the Union Culture Ministry.

Digital India Initiatives

Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), IMEI

Mains level : Privacy concerns associated with mobile phones


  • In a bid to curtail the rampant cloning and theft of mobile phones across the country, the Telecom Ministry is ready to roll out a Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) — a database of IMEIs, the 15-digit numbers that uniquely identify each mobile device.

Central Equipment Identity Register

  • The concept of a central identity register is advocated by the GSM Association (GSMA), a body representing mobile operators, equipment manufacturers, and software and internet companies, among other stakeholders in the telecom ecosystem.
  • In India, the plan to prepare the registry of mobile identification numbers was first conceived in the National Telecom Policy-2012.
  • A pilot for the project was developed and conducted by state-owned BSNL’s IT Project Service unit in Pune.
  • In the interim budget for 2019-20, the government allocated Rs 15 crore to the DoT for the CEIR project.

How will database work?

  • In line with global practices, DoT’s identity register will be a database of IMEI numbers that will consist of three lists – white, grey and black.
  • Mobile phones with IMEI numbers in the white list will be permitted for use, while those in the blacklist will be the ones that are reported stolen or lost and will not be allowed to access the network.
  • Devices with IMEI numbers in the greylist will be the ones that do not conform to standards but will be permitted to connect under supervision.

Utility of CEIR

  • Once implemented in the coming weeks, consumers in India whose mobile phones are lost or stolen can inform the Department of Telecom (DoT) via a helpline number after filing a report with police.
  • The DoT can then blacklist the IMEI number, effectively blocking the mobile device from accessing any cellular network in the future.
  • The CEIR will have access to GSMA’s global IMEI database, allowing comparison of IMEI numbers to identify counterfeit devices.

Why it is important?

  • The theft and cloning of mobile phones have become a serious problem.
  • The theft of mobile phones is not just a financial loss but also a threat to personal life of the citizens as well as national security.

Back2Basics

What is IMEI?

  • The International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI is a number, usually unique to identify 3GPP and mobile phones, as well as some satellite phones.
  • GSM networks use the IMEI number to identify valid devices, and can stop a stolen phone from accessing the network.
  • For example, if a mobile phone is stolen, the owner can have their network provider use the IMEI number to blacklist the phone.
  • This renders the phone useless on that network and sometimes other networks, even if the thief changes the phone’s subscriber identity module (SIM).
  • The IMEI only identifies the device and has no particular relationship to the subscriber.
  • The phone identifies the subscriber by transmitting the International mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) number, which it stores on a SIM card that can, in theory, be transferred to any handset.
  • However, the network’s ability to know a subscriber’s current, individual device enables many network and security features.

Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed snap] Going digital

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Digital payment system

Mains level : Nilekani's commiittee's report on digital payment.

CONTEXT

The payments ecosystem in India has seen a flurry of activity in the recent past. Post demonetisation, the shift towards digital payments has been particularly striking.

Low digital acceptance

Yet, acceptance, from an infrastructure perspective, continues to be low.

For instance, while debit card issuance has touched a billion, there are only about 3.5 million POS devices and two lakh ATMs that accept cards.

Against this backdrop, a committee headed by Nandan Nilekani has recommended several suggestions to broaden the acceptance infrastructure and deepen digital financial inclusion.

Committee’s recommendations

  1. The high cost of structures –
  • On the issue of acceptance, the committee notes that “high cost structures, including merchant fees, as well as limited financial service offering impede merchants from accepting digital payments”.
  • To address this, it has recommended reducing the interchange on card payments by 15 basis points hoping this will “increase the incentive for acquirers to sign-up merchants”.

2. Setting up a committee

  • Then there’s also the suggestion of setting up of a committee to review merchant discount rate and interchange on a regular basis.
  • Now, merchant acquisition is central to expanding the payment ecosystem.
  • But, rather than focusing more on the card-based ecosystem, perhaps greater emphasis could have been placed on the Aadhaar-enabled payment systems, which is likely to have greater appeal, especially in the rural hinterland.

3.No user charges on digital payments

  • There are also suggestions which call for ensuring no user charges for digital payments, and providing businesses tax incentives “calibrated on the proportion of digital payments in their receipts”.
  • These are eminently sensible recommendations. But implementation is likely to prove challenging.

Example – Take, for instance, the government’s decision to waive of fees on transactions less than Rs 2,000. Theoretically, a sound proportion. But, the roll-out was not as smooth as was expected.

4. Participation of non-banks in the payment system – The committee has also suggested that non-banks be encouraged to participate in payment systems.

Challenges

  • But, this is where questions over the existing payments architecture crop up.
  • As the inter-ministerial committee had pointed out earlier, there is need to distinguish between the RBI’s role “as an infrastructure institution providing settlement function from its role as regulator of the payments system”.
  • As the panel has said, the role of the regulator needs to evolve from being “largely bank centric”.
  • Non-banks are at an inherent disadvantage in the current payment ecosystem.

Conclusion

Perhaps, as the Nilekani committee notes, bringing in “non-banks as associate members to build acceptance infrastructure”, and allowing them access to settlement systems, might help create a level-playing field.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] National Common Mobility Card

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NCMC

Mains level: Utility of the NCMC


News

  • In order to ensure a seamless travel across metros and other transport systems in addition to retail shopping and purchases, the MoHUA came out with the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) Program.

Background

  • Public Transport is extensively used across India as the economical and convenient mode of commuting for all classes of society.
  • Cash continues to be the most preferred mode of fare payments across the public transport.
  • However, there are multiple challenges associated with the cash payment e.g. cash handling, revenue leakages, cash reconciliation etc.
  • The introduction of closed loop cards issued by these operators helped to digitize the fare collection to a significant extent.

National Common Mobility Card

  1. Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs brought to the fore the NCMC to enable seamless travel by different metros and other transport systems across the country besides retail shopping and purchases.
  2. India’s First Indigenously Developed Payment Eco-system for transport consists of:
  • NCMC Card
  • SWEEKAR (Swachalit Kiraya: Automatic Fare Collection System)
  • SWAGAT (Swachalit Gate)
  1. These are bank issued cards on Debit/Credit/Prepaid card product platform.
  2. The customer may use this single card for payments across all segments including metro, bus, suburban railways, toll, parking, smart city and retail.
  3. The stored value on card supports offline transaction across all travel needs with minimal financial risk to involved stakeholders.
  4. The service area feature of this card supports operator specific applications e.g. monthly passes, season tickets etc.

Agencies Involved

  1. CDAC was entrusted the task of finalization of NCMC specification for AFC system including the interface with Bank server.
  2. CDAC worked in collaboration with NPCI to complete this activity. Thereafter, BEL was roped in for making Gates & Reader.
  3. NCMC Ecosystem offers the value proposition for customers as they need not to carry multiple cards for different usage.

About Automatic Fare Collection System

  • AFC System (gates, readers/validators, backend infrastructure etc.) is the core of any transit operator to automate the fare collection process.
  • The major challenge associated with AFC system implementation in India till now is the lack of indigenous solution provider.
  • Till now, AFC systems deployed at various Metros are from foreign players.
  • In order to avoid the vendor lock-in and create an interoperable system, there was a need to develop indigenous standards and AFC system under Make in India initiative.

Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed snap] Jobs growth: Digitally-enabled mass services to be game changer

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Internet of things, blockchain tech, big data, etc.

Mains level: Importance of digital technology in creating growth and jobs.


NEWS

CONTEXT

Digital technologies have the same potential to transform the paradigm of economic growth and jobs through mass services, and India is well positioned to lead this paradigm shift as England, the US and China had done earlier.

Nature of revolutions in past and present

  • In the last 150 years, the world has seen three industrial revolutions starting with the steam engine in the 19th century, mass manufacturing in the mid-20th one and the internet in late 20th century.
  • Now we are embarking on the fourth industrial revolution led by digital technologies which will once again reshape the paradigm for economic growth and job.

What is the mass production?

  • Mass production refers to the production of a large number of similar products efficiently and typically is characterized by some type of mechanization to achieve high volume, detailed organization of materials flow, careful control of quality standards and division of labor.

Potential of digital technologies as mass production

  • Digital technologies have the same potential to transform the paradigm of economic growth and jobs through mass services, and India is well positioned to lead this paradigm shift as England, the US and China had done earlier.
  • Like mass manufacturing technologies, digital technologies dramatically alter the cost-price equation of services which can lead to the creation of a virtuous cycle of growth, competition, investments and new jobs.

Ways to create growth

  • Digital technology does this in four different ways. First, it drives productivity. For example, large asset managers, by leveraging the digital technology stack, have reduced customer acquisition and operations costs by 10-100 times.
  • Secondly, it has the unique characteristic of allowing ‘fractionalisation’ or in consumer vocabulary, ‘sachetisation’, i.e, breaking down the service into small consumption offers.
  • The third is its unique characteristic to allow integration of physical and digital assets and processes to drive down price, induce consumption and grow the market, e.g, taxi aggregators or e-commerce.
  • Finally, the digital and digitally-enabled businesses also spur innovation by entrepreneurs to find new value creation opportunities through the exploitation of the power of data and analytics across the value chains.

Factors contributing to India being a leader in digital services growth

  • The first is the huge unmet demand for services and a decent starting position in service sectors.
  • India has both, with services being the largest part of its economy, unlike other developing countries, but still with huge unmet demand existing across sectors, especially health, education, financial services, logistics and transportation, government and municipal services, tourism, and agricultural services.
  • A world-class public digital infrastructure as the backbone of mass service sectors, as high quality public physical infrastructure like roads, ports, and airports was the backbone of the mass manufacturing industry.
  • India has a world-leading starting position on this front with its digital stack consisting of Jan Dhan (banking for all), Aadhaar (digital identifier for all), and mobile connectivity, and public applications like e-KYC (for e-authentication), digi-locker (for digital storage), e-signature (digital signature recognition), BHIM (a national payments gateway).
  • Together, they constitute a comprehensive digital architecture which offers open APIs as public infrastructure which private and public enterprises can integrate into their digital platforms to transform the cost-price equations of a wide range of services.

Interventions that are needed to be  taken

  • The first is setting standards for data flows which are the backbone of any service offering—in terms of both interoperability and privacy.
  • Secondly, a regulator is required which has the technical skills and understanding to develop and regulate the revenue sharing arrangements between partners in the digital ecosystem to create an efficient market.
  • Finally, a public policy case can be made for creating societal digital platforms for all public goods like education and health and which are offered for free for the development of business solutions by entrepreneurs.
  • GSTN can be one such powerful public digital platform which, of course with necessary privacy protections in place, can help entrepreneurs develop truly innovative financial products which can, for example, solve the huge challenge of funding faced by small enterprises.

 

Examples of mass service Success

  • We have experienced it in India to drive growth and create new jobs in the telecom sector after it was liberalised in the mid-1990s. At that time, the price of a phone call was over Rs 16 per minute and the total subscriber base was just above 1 million. As the cost per minute fell below Rs 1 (currently it is Rs 0.19), the number of subscribers expanded exponentially (today we have over 1.13 billion today) showing the scale of unmet need in the market.

Conclusion

The twenty-first century will see the emergence of mass services as the driver of economic and jobs growth, much as mass manufacturing did in the twentieth. India has a great starting point to be an early leader in this fourth industrial era. Whether we grasp this opportunity or lose the plot, as we did with the third industrial transformation (internet-driven low-cost manufacturing), only time will tell.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Operation Digital Board

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Op Digital Board

Mains level: Raising standard of teaching and learning in India


News

  • The Ministry of HRD launched Operation Digital Board to leverage technology in order to boost quality education in the country.

Operation Digital Board

  1. It is a revolutionary step which will make the learning as well as the teaching process interactive and popularize flipped learning as a pedagogical approach.
  2. The digital board will be introduced all over the country in government and government aided schools from class 9th onwards as well as in higher education institutions.
  3. The process will begin from the coming session of 2019 itself.

Implementation

I. In Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

  • UGC will be the implementing agency for ODB in HEIs.
  • UGC will put in place a Portal for all the public funded HEIs to log-in and opt for the scheme giving details of this facility.
  • This can be implemented as a Central scheme under a loan from HEFA.

II. In Schools

  • Digital / SMART board will be provided in all Government and Government – aided schools having Secondary and Sr. Secondary classes.
  • Nearly 1.5 lakh Secondary / Sr. Secondary schools will be covered under the scheme in collaboration with the State and UTs

Benefits

  1. ODB aims at converting a class room into a digital class room.
  2. It will make available e-resources at any time and at any place to students.
  3. It will also help in provisioning of personalized adaptive learning as well as Intelligent Tutoring by exploiting emerging technologies like Machine Learning, AI & Data Analytics.

Other technological initiatives

  1. The MHRD has launched of e-Pathshala, DIKSHA, NROER, NPTEL, E-PGpathshala SWAYAM and SWAYAM-Prabha DTH Channels etc.
  2. These have provided adequate content of high quality which can be taken to every classroom.
  3. These pedagogical interventions have raised the standards of teaching, irrespective of the location of the Schools and Colleges.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] GeM Start-up Runway and SWAYATT Initiative

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Ministries & Departments of the Government

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  GeM, SWAYATT, StartUp Runway

Mains level: Benefits of centralised procurement in online mode


News

GeM Start-up Runway

  1. Launched on 19th February 2019, “StartUp Runway” is a unique concept initiated by GeM to promote entrepreneurship through innovation.
  2. This program is an opportunity for Startups to reach out to the Government Buyers by offering products and services that are unique in concept, design, process and functionality.
  3. DPIIT (Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade) certified Startups are invited to offer their products/services for procurement on GeM.
  4. It seeks to support technology development, research and innovation by ensuring a conducive policy environment for industrial diversification and value addition to commodities.
  5. It aligns with Government’s philosophy to turn Job-seekers into job-creators.

SWAYATT Initiative

  1. It is an initiative to promote Start-ups, Women and Youth Advantage Through eTransactions on Government e Marketplace (GeM).
  2. This will bring together the key stakeholders within the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem to Government e-Marketplace the national procurement portal.

Back2Basics

Government e-Marketplace

  1. GeM is a one stop portal to facilitate online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Government Departments / Organizations / PSUs.
  2. GeM aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement.
  3. It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverse e-auction and demand aggregation to facilitate the government users achieve the best value for their money.
  4. The purchases through GeM by Government users have been authorized and made mandatory by Ministry of Finance by adding a new Rule No. 149 in the General Financial Rules, 2017.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] eCourts Services through Common Service Centres

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  E-Court Services

Mains level: Utility of the E-Court Services


News

  • In order to provide efficient and time-bound access to the Courts services to litigant public, who are on the other side of the digital divide and don’t have access to internet, the Department of Justice has decided to deliver eCourts services to them through around 2 lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs).

E-Court Services

  1. The eCourts database contains case information in respect of over 10 crore cases and more than 7 crore orders / judgments.
  2. To ensure affordability, Department of Justice has decided not to charge any fee from the customers for eCourts related services delivered through CSC’s.
  3. The project has made significant progress under the guidance of e-Committee of Supreme Court of India in computerizing district and subordinate courts of the country through installation of case information software, hardware and local area network in courts.
  4. ECourts services are also being connected on Wide Area Network through a dedicated network offering bandwidth upto 100 Mbps.
  5. They have now been successfully rolled out through SMS, email, web, mobile app etc. benefiting millions of litigants and advocates.
  6. Court case information such as judicial proceedings/decisions, case registration, cause list, case status, daily orders, and final judgments of all computerized district and subordinate courts of the country will now be available across all CSCs in the country.

Why CSCs?

  1. The rural reach of the CSC’s is extensive, envisaging a minimum of one CSC in each Gram Panchayat, thus enabling eCourts services to reach all corners of the country.
  2. Towards cost of service, CSC’s has been authorized to charge Rs.5/- for any of the 23 services available on Courts portal.

Digital India Initiatives

Womaniya on GeM initiative

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Ministries & Departments of the Government

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Government e Marketplace (GeM), Womaniya on GeM

Mains level: Benefits of centralised procurement in online mode


News

  • The commerce ministry has said Government eMarketplace (GeM) has launched an initiative to enable women entrepreneurs and self-help groups to sell different products on the platform.

Womaniya on GeM

  1. The initiative – Womaniya on GeM – seeks to develop women entrepreneurship on the margins of society to achieve gender-inclusive economic growth.
  2. The initiative would enable women entrepreneurs and women SHGs to sell handicrafts and handloom, jute and coir products, home décor and office furnishings, directly to various government ministries, departments and institutions.
  3. Womaniya homepage [https://gem.gov.in/womaniya] will inform procurement officers in various government ministries, departments and CPSEs about the drive to promote procurement of common use goods and services from women entrepreneurs.

Back2Basics

Government eMarketplace

  1. Nodal Ministry: Ministry of Commerce & Industry
  2. Government e-Marketplace (GeM) is a one stop portal to facilitate online procurement of common use Goods & Services required by various Government Departments / Organizations / PSUs.
  3. GeM aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement.
  4. It provides the tools of e-bidding, reverse e-auction and demand aggregation to facilitate the government users achieve the best value for their money.
  5. The purchases through GeM by Government users have been authorized and made mandatory by Ministry of Finance by adding a new Rule No. 149 in the General Financial Rules, 2017.

Digital India Initiatives

RBI issues guidelines for tokenization of card transactions

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Mobilization of resources, Banking

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Token mode of payment

Mains level: Promotion of Digital Payments


News

  • Reserve Bank of India has released guidelines on tokenization for various card transactions, including from debit and credit cards.

What is Tokenization?

  1. Tokenisation, which aims at improving safety and security of the payment system, refers to replacement of actual card details with an unique alternate code called the ‘token’.
  2. It shall be unique for a combination of card, token requestor and identified device.
  3. Instead of using actual card details, this token is used to perform card transactions in contactless mode at point of sale(POS) terminals, quick response(QR) code payments.

RBI permits its usage

  • RBI has given permission to offer tokenised card transactions services to all channels such as near field communication (NFC), magnetic secure transmission (MST) based contactless transactions, in-app payments, QR code-based payments or token storage mechanisms, including cloud, secure element and trusted execution environment.

How to avail them?

  1. Tokenization and de-tokenization shall be performed only by the authorised card network and recovery of original Primary Account Number (PAN) should be feasible for the authorised card network only, the release said.
  2. The request for tokenization and de-tokenization should be logged by the card network and available for retrieval.
  3. A customer would not have to pay any charges for availing this service.
  4. At present, tokenized card transaction facility would be offered through mobile phones or tablets only and will be extended to other devices later based on experience.

A note for Payment Networks

  1. Card networks shall get the card issuers/acquirers, their service providers and any other entity involved in payment transaction chain, certified in respect of changes done for processing tokenised card transactions by them.
  2. Providing card tokenization services, authorised card payment networks shall put in place a mechanism for periodic system audit, at least annually, of all entities involved in providing card tokenisation services to customers.
  3. The central bank also asked card issuers to ensure easy access to customers for reporting loss of ‘identified device’ or any other such event which may expose tokens to unauthorised usage.
  4. Registration of a card on token requestors app shall be done only with explicit customer consent through Additional Factor of Authentication (AFA), and not by way of a forced / default/automatic selection of check box, radio button.

Digital India Initiatives

States to rollout ‘PARIVESH’ by January 15

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of PARIVESH

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

  • An ambitious web-based single-window system ‘Parivesh’ will be rolled-out at state levels by January 15, bringing an end to the clearance nightmare for entrepreneurs.
  • This automated clearance has already been implemented at the Central level, while various States starting from Gujarat will begin to implement the scheme by January 15.

PARIVESH Portal

  1. It is a Single-Window Integrated Environmental Management System which stands for Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single-window H
  2. It is a workflow based application and portal, based on the concept of web architecture.
  3. The system has been designed, developed and hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, with technical support from National Informatics Centre, (NIC).
  4. It automates the entire process of submitting the application and tracking the status of such proposals at each stage of processing.

Utility of the portal

  1. It facilitates for online submission, monitoring and management of proposals submitted by Project Proponents to the MOEFCC, as well as to the State Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAA).
  2. It will also he;p seek various types of clearances (e.g. Environment, Forest, Wildlife and Coastal Regulation Zone Clearances) from Central, State and district-level authorities.
  3. The main highlights of PARIVESH include –
  • single registration and single sign-in for all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ),
  • unique-ID for all types of clearances required for a particular project and
  • single Window interface for the proponent to submit applications for getting all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forests, Wildlife and CRZ clearances)

More efficiency to be achieved

The facility of Geographic Information System (GIS) interface will help them in analyzing the proposal efficiently, automatic alerts (via SMS and emails) at important stages to the concerned officers, committee members and higher authorities to check the delays if any.

Digital India Initiatives

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NSM

Mains level: India’s technological advancement in recent years


News

  • French IT services firm Atos has won a three-year contract to build the first phase of supercomputers under India’s Rs 4,500-crore National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

National Supercomputing Mission (NSM)

  1. The Mission envisages empowering national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities.
  2. These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN).
  3. The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network.
  4. The Mission includes development of highly professional High Performance Computing (HPC) aware human resource for meeting challenges of development of these applications.
  5. India looks forward to create a cluster of machines for weather forecasting, drug discovery and data mining.

Agencies involved

  1. The Mission would be implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) over a period of seven years.
  2. The tender to build these high performance computers (HPC) had been floated by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).
  3. Atos would be deploying its energy efficient Direct Liquid Cooled Bull Sequana supercomputers in India.

Implementation Phases

  1. The NSM is divided into two key tracks, build and buy, which are being spearheaded by the C-DAC and Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science respectively.
  2. Atos has won the contract for the ‘build’ part of the NSM for which it will partner CDAC in all three phases of the project.
  3. While Phase I involves assembling of the supercomputers, in Phase II, certain components like the motherboards would be manufactured locally, and in the third phase, the supercomputer would be designed in India by C-DAC.
  4. In Phase II, it will be an aggregate of 10 petaflop, but the number of computers is yet to be decided.
  5. In the first phase, IIT-Kharagpur will have a 1.3 petaflop machine and IISER Pune and IIT-BHU will have a 650 teraflop computer each.

(One petaflop is a million billion floating point operations per second and is a reflection of the computing capacity of a system)

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] RTI Portal on Judgments/Orders of various courts

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  About the Portal

Mains level: Transparency of Judicial Processes


News

RTI Portal on Judgments/Orders of Supreme Court, High Courts and CIC

  1. The RTI Portal on Judgments/Orders of Supreme Court, High Courts and CIC has been developed by Institute of Secretariat Training and Management (ISTM), New Delhi.
  2. This Portal will provide a learning environment for all stakeholders under which a repository on the landmark cases on the RTI will be available at one place.
  3. The Portal also makes available the gist of the replies given by Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs), First Appellate Authorities as well as the Supreme Court.
  4. It will be helpful in learning the latest trends of implementation of RTI Act as the judgments/orders given by Central Information Commission, High Courts and Supreme Court are always a crucial source to track the developments on this subject.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] “ENSURE” Portal for Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Indian Economy| Economics Of Animal-Rearing

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ENSURE Portal

Mains level: ICT initiatives for DBT in livestocks sector


News

ENSURE Portal

  1. The portal “ENSURE”- National Livestock Mission-EDEG is developed by NABARD and is operated under the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries.
  2. Under the Mission’s component called Entrepreneurship Development and Employment Generation (EDEG), subsidy payment for activities related to poultry, small ruminants, pigs etc. through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) goes directly to the beneficiary’s account.
  3. In order to make it better, simpler and transparent, the NABARD has developed an online portal “ENSURE” (https://ensure.nabard.org) so that the information related to beneficiary and processing of application can be made readily available.

Utility of the Portal

  1. Under the new process, controlling officer/branch manager of the bank, after scrutinizing & sanctioning of proposal, uploads the subsidy claims in the portal.
  2. The subsidy will be approved within 30 days from the date of sanction of loan.
  3. Earlier, even after the loan approval, subsidy took a long time to reach the beneficiary’s account.
  4. Through this process, the flow of information/funds will also be quicker and more accountable.
  5. The burden of extra interest due to delay in the disbursal of the subsidy would now be reduced after the launch of the portal.
  6. Access from the portal will also be on real-time basis and list of beneficiaries can be easily prepared.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] AirSewa 2.0

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  AirSewa 2.0

Mains level:  Addressing passengers grievances in aviation sector


News

  • The Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched the upgraded version of AirSewa 2.0 web portal and mobile app.

AirSewa 2.0

  1. A need was felt for development of an upgraded version of AirSewa to provide a superior user experience with enhanced functionalities.
  2. Major improvements include features such as secure sign-up and log-in with social media, chatbot for travellers support, improved grievance management including social media grievances, real-time flight status and details flight schedule.
  3. The upgrade and improved version of AirSewa operates through an interactive web portal as well as through a mobile app for both android and iOS platforms.

Features of the Portal

  1. It will offer passengers a convenient and hassle-free air travel experience.
  2. The web portal and application will help to capture air travellers’ feedback for policy interventions.
  3. The focus is on improving the quality of services so that passengers who are travelling have a safe and comfortable experience.

Addressing Passenger’s Grievances

  1. Air passengers face issues like flight delays, problem in refunds, long queues, inadequate facilities at airports and complaints of lost baggage.
  2. The Ministry launched AirSewa web portal and mobile app in November 2016 to address this need.
  3. The AirSewa 1.0 was received well, with around 30,000 app downloads and around 75,000 web portal hits since its launch.
  4. It has helped significant number of air passengers to get their concerns resolved with 92 % closure rate for grievance solutions.
  5. In addition to grievance redressal, AirSewa also provides real-time flight status and flight schedules.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] CCTN System

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CCTN System

Mains level: ICT initiatives to contain the crime and track criminals through a nationwide system


News

Context

  • The Union Home Ministry has inaugurated the two-day conference on “CCTNS–Good practices and Success Stories” organised by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB).

Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS)

  1. The CCTNS is a project under Indian government for creating a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-Governance.
  2. The system includes nationwide online tracking system by integrating more than 15,000 police stations across the country.
  3. The project is implemented by National Crime Records Bureau.
  4. The concept of CCTNS was first conceived in the year 2008 by the then Home Minister, P. Chidambaram in the aftermath of 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Functioning of CCTNS

  1. CCTNS aims to integrate all the data and records of crime into a Core Application Software (CAS), which is presently spreading across 29 states and 7 union territories of India.
  2. CAS was developed by the Bangalore based IT firm, Wipro.
  3. It needs to integrate different software and platforms followed by different states and to digitise records of those states which have not digitized their police records.
  4. The project also involves training of police personnel and setting up of citizen portal to provide services to citizens.

Digital India Initiatives

North Central Railways launches apps for its employees, passengers

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways, etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NCR Rasta, Yatri Rasta

Mains level: ICT initiatives by Indian Railways


News

Context

  1. The North Central Railways (NCR) has launched two mobile apps, ‘NCR RASTA’ and ‘Yatri RASTA’, for its employees and passengers, respectively, for locating assets and stations.
  2. Both these apps are aimed at fulfilling the twin objectives of passenger service and asset maintenance.
  3. They were developed by the IT department of the NCR, headed by Chief Manager (IT).

NCR RASTA

  1. NCR Rasta stands for Railway assets Summarized Tracking Application.
  2. The app is for the use of railway officers and staff and has exact mapping of all railway assets.
  3. It will enable railway staff to reach desired asset using Google Navigation in case of any emergency.

Yatri RASTA

  1. Yatri Rasta stands for Railway Approach to Station Tracking Application
  2. The app will allow general public to locate the railway stations easily.
  3. It is already available for smartphones running on Android and can be downloaded free of cost from Google Play Store.

Digital India Initiatives

Govt. to launch app to rope in volunteers

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: #Self4Society app

Mains level: CSR activities in India.


News

Context

  1. Corporate professionals often wanted to do volunteer work but did not have any guidance.
  2. Professionals keen on doing volunteer work in their free time will be provided a platform by the government through the new app.

#Self4Society App

  1. #Self4Society app is developed by MyGov and will be inaugurated by PM Modi.
  2. This platform will help to create better synergies among so many CSR and other initiatives and lead to a much better outcome of the efforts of professionals.
  3. Companies have observed that a spirit of service and volunteering improves employee satisfaction and reduces employee attrition.
  4. This app comes after discussions with companies from the information technology sector on these lines.
  5. The app will have incentives, gamification and intra- and inter-company competitions, and social networking.
  6. The volunteer time for the government’s flagship programmes such as Swachh Bharat is expected to increase.

Digital India Initiatives

IRCTC launches ‘Ask Disha’ AI chat bot

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ask-Disha

Mains level: Use of AI in Governance activities


News

 ‘Ask Disha’ (Digital Interaction to Seek Help Anytime)

  1. IRCTC has launched the chat bot to answer various queries about ticket booking, cancellation and various value added services.
  2. It has been jointly developed by IRCTC and CoRover Private Limited, a Bangalore-based startup.
  3. It is a new artificial intelligence-enabled chat bot is a first of its kind initiative for any Indian government.
  4. It can be used by Indian Railways passengers to get their questions answered through the chat bot.

Features of Ask-Disha

  1. The new next-generation IRCTC e-ticketing website gets an average 4 million users per day.
  2. Hence the chat bot is included with 24*7 customer query support, quick response time to queries and multi-tasking.
  3. The chat bot is available on the right-hand side bottom corner of the IRCTC website.
  4. Once the user starts typing in a query, the chat bot auto suggests some options.
  5. According to IRCTC the chat bot will “improve its knowledge” over a period of time, expanding its ambit of questions to ensure greater efficiency in catering to queries of users.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Online Assurances Monitoring System

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: OAMS

Mains level: Ensuring better service delivery in Parliamentary Procedures.


News

Context

  • The union govt. has inaugurated the Online Assurances Monitoring System (OAMS), developed by the Union Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs (MPA).

Online Assurances Monitoring System (OAMS)

  1. Different Ministers, while giving replies to questions or making statements in Parliament, give assurances on the floor of the House.
  2. This system has made the information regarding assurances given on the floor of the Houses of Parliament paperless and available in digital format.
  3. The MPA takes such assurances from the proceedings of the House, based on the guidelines for this purpose, and sends the extract of those assurances to the concerned Ministries for their fulfillment.
  4. Information regarding OAMS, including data and figures, will available on the web portal oams.nic.in.

Imbibing Accountability

  1. With OAMS, all assurances being taken out by the Ministry through e-Office would be reflected on this system and various Ministries/Departments.
  2. This would encompass various actions related to Parliamentary Assurances including sending implementation reports, request for dropping, request for extension and decision thereon.
  3. Hereafter, physical communication would not be accepted.

Why need online monitoring of Assurances?

  1. A number of problems arise in the process of fulfillment of assurances due to human factors and non-compliance of guidelines, making the process less transparent.
  2. Hence, the need arose for an online assurances monitoring system to track the exact status of pending assurances and expedite their fulfillment.
  3. Since 2007, a total of 26,830 assurances given by the Ministers on the floor of the Houses were culled out by the MPA.
  4. Out of these 21,439 assurances have been fulfilled and 1,903 have been dropped, leaving a total of 3,488 assurances still pending for compliance.

Digital India Initiatives

India moves up 8 spots in e-payments adoption ranking

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Government E-Payments Adoption Ranking

Mains level: India’s progress in facilitating cashless transactions.


News

Government E-Payments Adoption Ranking

  1. Visa, a global leader in payments technology has announced that India ranked 28th among 73 countries in the 2018 Government E-Payments Adoption Ranking (GEAR) study.
  2. The 2018 GEAR, an Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) global Index and benchmarking study commissioned by Visa, ranks governments by quantifying their e-payment capabilities based on various indicators.
  3. This is up from 36th rank in 2011, reinforcing the country’s progress towards digital transformation.
  4. This is the third edition of the study after those in 2007 and 2011.

India’s Progress

  1. Insights from this study will help India to build infrastructure and deploy electronic payment products and services.
  2. India leads the Business to Government category, along with Australia, Singapore and South Korea.
  3. The category refers to the ease with which businesses can calculate and make their tax payments, register and renew their registrations online and digitally calculate their pension fund contributions, thereby making those payments on a periodic basis.
  4. At the same time, by simplifying refund and loan application processes, businesses can track status digitally.
  5. Again coupled with dedicated digital portals to submit proposals for government procurement services, India leads the Government to Business category as well.

Digital India Initiatives

Use your face to zip through airports

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DigiYatra initiative

Mains level: Government interventions in the civil aviation sector in recent years and its impact on overall transportation sector


News

Digi Yatra Facility

  1. A mere facial scan will soon enable air travellers to skip long queues and zip through various check points at airports in the country.
  2. The Centre is set to introduce the “Digi Yatra” facility to start with at the Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports in February 2019.
  3. The facility which is voluntary would require passengers to initially register themselves at a web portal by providing an identity proof.
  4. The travellers would then be required to undergo a one-time verification at an airport.
  5. Following which, the individual’s facial identity would be captured and mapped onto a newly created “Digi Yatra” profile and a distinct identification number would be generated.
  6. Passengers would then have to provide this identification number at the time of purchasing an air ticket, to avail the paperless access facility.
  7. The passenger’s travel history would be “purged” after the completion of a journey and that the “Digi Yatra” programme would comply with the European Union’s Data Protection Regulation.

Scan a QR code

  1. The facility would enable travellers to enter the airport building by scanning a QR code on their mobile phones, after undergoing facial recognition.
  2. Once inside the airport, a passenger would be able to self check-in, drop baggage, pass through e-gates to access security and embarkation areas with just a facial scan, thus obviating the need to produce a boarding pass at every step.
  3. However the travellers would still have to undergo mandatory security checks including frisking.
  4. The web portal is scheduled to be ready by February 2019 and Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports would be the first to implement the digital processing of passengers.
  5. The facility would thereafter be also made available at four other airports of Kolkata, Varanasi, Vijayawada and Pune.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Incorporation of Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) through a complete online system

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RUN-LLP

Mains level: E-governance initiatives to facilitate EODB.


News

Context

  1. With the initiatives launched by Ministry of Corporate Affairs, one can start business by incorporating a company through an on-line process without visiting any Government office.
  2. This was achieved in January, 2016 by establishing Central Registry Centre (CRC) for on-line incorporation of the company and reserving its unique name.
  3. Two on-line forms that were introduced for the purpose are Simplified Proforma for Incorporating Company Electronically (SPICe) and Reserve Unique Name (RUN).

What is a Limited Liability Company?

  1. A limited liability company is a corporate structure whereby the members of the company are not personally liable for the company’s debts or liabilities.
  2. They are hybrid entities that combine the characteristics of a corporation and a partnership or sole proprietorship.
  3. In these the liability of each partner is limited to his share as written in the agreement.

RUN-LLP (Reserve Unique Name – Limited Liability Partnership)

  1. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has contributed significantly towards ‘Ease of Doing Business’ in the country with a new initiative.
  2. A company can now be incorporated in less than two days along with allotment of PAN, TAN, DIN and Unique Name through the online process.
  3. It has launched process re-engineering by making incorporation of Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) through a complete online system.
  4. It is web service titled RUN-LLP (Reserve Unique Name – Limited Liability Partnership).
  5. Name can be allotted to LLP through an e-form titled “FiLiP (Form for incorporation of Limited Liability Partnership).

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Centre of Excellence for Data Analytics (CEDA)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CEDA

Mains level: Use of Machine Learning in Governance activities


News

Centre of Excellence for Data Analytics (CEDA)

  1. National Informatics Centre (NIC) and NIC Services Incorporated (NICSI) have jointly set up a Centre of Excellence for data analytics.
  2. This is aimed to support Government departments to unlock the hidden potential of the data that they are generating as part of the governance processes and use it to improve the overall governance.
  3. CEDA is envisaged to kick-start and fast track the adoption of advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities.
  4. It shall provide quality data analytic services to government departments at all levels by identifying appropriate tools and technologies and deploying people with right expertise.
  5. As part of its service offerings, it will help the departments
  • Understand their business requirements and define their analytic needs
  • Identify the data sets that are required to meet the analytic needs
  • Determine access to the relevant data sources (both within as well as outside the government)
  • Build the required data analytic solutions
  • In integrating departmental data silos and deliver an integrated whole-of government analytics for an integrated policy formulation.

About NIC

  1. NIC as a premier technology advisor and ICT solution provider to Government at all levels.
  2. It has always taken the first step to introduce the latest technologies and services in government like establishment of NICNET or National Knowledge Network (NKN), development of critical e-Governance solutions and a host of other services required by the Government.
  3. NICSI is a trusted partner of NIC and has been instrumental in supporting all NIC’s initiatives.
  4. NISCI provides resources and is responsible establishing & managing ICT infrastructure such as National Data Center, Development Center, Cloud infrastructure etc.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] National e-Vidhan Application (NeVA)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of NeVA

Mains level: Utility of the NeVA in Legislation Projects


News

Context

  1. Inaugural Session of the two-day National Orientation workshop on National e-Vidhan Application (NeVA) and new website and app of NeVA was organized by Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.
  2. The focus of the workshop would be to encourage all State Legislatures to move towards e-Vidhan platform.
  3. This will help bringing in transparency, accountability and responsiveness in their conduct of business, through the use of technology.

National e-Vidhan Application

  1. NeVA is a member-centric, decentralized digital application that makes information available on digital platform about day to day functioning of Legislative Houses covering various businesses of the Houses.
  2. The application would host a secure page for each Member of the House for submitting Questions & other Notices.
  3. The mNeVA (NeVA-mobile app) is a device neutral and user friendly app that has made information on conduct of business in Legislatures accessible anytime, anywhere to everyone.
  4. It is a work-flow based app deployed in Cloud (Meghraj) which helps the Chair of the House to conduct the proceedings of the House smoothly and the members to carry out their duties in the House efficiently.
  5. NeVA has made live for Rajya Sabha in respect of Monsoon Session 2018 and information in respect of Lok Sabha is being updated.

e-Vidhan Project

  1. e-Vidhan is a Mission Mode Project to digitize and make the functioning of State Legislatures paperless.
  2. This is part of Digital India programme and Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, being the Nodal Ministry for this project.
  3. It desires to roll out e-Vidhan as NeVA covering all 40 Houses including two Houses of Parliament and thereby putting all them on a single platform and proving the theory of ‘One Nation One Application’.
  4. It is to be used by the Legislatures as well as all the Government Departments.
  5. This journey began with a pilot project executed in Himachal Pradesh with the central assistance of Rs.8.12 crores which made the Shimla Legislative Assembly the first Assembly in India to go paperless in 2014.
  6. This project resulted into overall savings of about Rs.5.08 crores annually on account of expenditure on papers, printing, manpower costs and conservation of forests/ trees as ancillary benefits.

 

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] C-DAC Information Media Server (CIMS)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of CIMS

Mains level: Features of CIMS


News

Context

  • MEITY launches C-DAC Information Media Server (CIMS) for enhancing Good Governance.

C-DAC Information Media Server (CIMS)

  1. It is a dedicated computer appliance having specialized application software to provide audio and video on demand.
  2. This low-cost affordable system is built with single board computer having powerful and energy efficient multi-core processor.
  3. It does not require any special purpose internet service provider or data connectivity.
  4. The common feature includes displaying text, images for viewing, video streaming, e-brochure; for viewing or downloading for offline reference.

Utility of CIMS

  1. CIMS is very easy to setup and configure for deployments at locations such as-
  • Parliament (Today in Rajya Sabha, Members details),
  • Education Institutes (eBooks, Timetable, news of the day, notices),
  • Railways (Train running information, station layout maps),
  • Hospitals (Doctors on duty, patient records).
  1. A user can connect via any smart device with WiFi capability and freely access the available information.
  2. Web pages are retrieved and deliver it across the Internet.
  3. In the simplest case, the video file is embedded in a web page and stored on the same host as the other components of the page.

Back2Basics

Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC)

  1. The C-DAC is an Autonomous Scientific Society of Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India.
  2. It is headquartered in Pune.
  3. The setting up of C-DAC in 1988 was to built Supercomputers in context of denial of import of Supercomputers by USA.
  4. Since then C-DAC has been undertaking building of multiple generations of Supercomputer starting from PARAM with 1 GF in 1988.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] ‘e-Sahaj’ portal for grant of Security Clearance

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Ministries & Departments of the Government

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: e- Sahaj Portal, National Security Clearance

Mains level: Importance of Security Clearance


News

Context

  • The Union Home Secretary has launched an online ‘e-Sahaj’ portal here today for grant of Security Clearance.

National Security Clearance

  1. MHA is the nodal Ministry for security clearances in certain sensitive sectors before issue of licence/permit, permission, contract etc, to companies/ bidders/individuals by the administrative Ministry.
  2. The objective of national security clearance is to evaluate potential security threats, including economic threats, and provide risk assessment before clearing investment and project proposals in key sectors.
  3. The aim is to strike a healthy balance between meeting the imperatives of national security and facilitating ease of doing business and promoting investment in the country.

E-Sahaj Portal

  1. The portal will facilitate an applicant to submit application online and also to view the status of his application from time to time.
  2. The clearance has become standardized, resulting in a process which will be faster, transparent and easy to monitor.
  3. Various functionaries can access the application and documents online and take timely decisions.
  4. MHA has cleared about 1,100 cases of security clearance in the past one year.
  5. Although the given timeline is 90 days, MHA strives to decide Security Clearance cases in 60 days (average time per case in 2018 is 53 days), which is being reduced further.

Digital India Initiatives

Bengaluru airport set to use face recognition as ‘boarding pass’

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Voice Box System

Mains level: Uses of enhanced biometric identification


News

Context

Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in Bengaluru is set to become the first airport in Asia next year to use face recognition as the boarding procedure for passengers to board flights and move across different sections of the airport.

Implementation details

  1. Vision Box, a Portuguese software firm, signed an agreement to this effect to introduce face recognition technology at the airport from 2019.
  2. Voice Box, according to its website, showcased the face recognition-based passage system for the first time for Lufthansa which used a biometric boarding procedure instead of boarding passes.
  3. The first implementation will be completed in the first quarter of 2019, with Jet Airways, Air Asia and SpiceJet passengers as first users.

Importance of the Project

  1. The goal of the programme is to simplify the journey by making it paperless from registration to boarding.
  2. Biometric technology will identify passengers by their face as they move across the airport, avoiding stops and the repeated presentation of boarding passes, passports or other physical identity documents.
  3. This is the first end-to-end face recognition-based walk through experience in Asia and the largest in the world.
  4. It is also one of the most significant steps towards the Digital India campaign endorsed by the Government.

Digital India Initiatives

Census 2021 to collect OBC data, use maps

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Census of India

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

Census 2021 to count OBCs

  1. The decennial exercise will involve 25 lakh trained enumerators and the use of maps/geo-referencing at the time of house listing is also under consideration.
  2. The decision to count the OBCs in the next Census is to get a correct perspective on the social status in the country.
  3. The enumerators will start “house listing” in 2020 and the headcount will begin from February 2021.

Socio-economic Caste Census of 2011

  1. The 2011 caste data collected as part of the SECC is yet to be released by the Centre.
  2. The National Commission for Backward Classes says there are 2,479 entries on the Central list of the OBCs.
  3. The 2011 Census collected information in 29 categories that included a separate column for Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes.
  4. The OBCs would be an option in the column in 2021.

First Digital Census

  1. Presently, the “schedules” (a tabular form containing details of individuals), carried by enumerators to households was being stored in a physical form at government’s storehouse in Delhi.
  2. It is based on these schedules that the relevant statistical information on population, language, occupation, etc, are sorted from and published.
  3. The data collected during 2021 Census would be stored electronically, also a first.

Way Forward

  1. The Home Minister emphasized the need for improvement in the Civil Registration System.
  2. This was especially on registration of birth and death in remote areas, and strengthening sample registration system for estimating the data namely, infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio and fertility rates.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Launch of National Mission on GeM

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Ministries & Departments of the Government

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Government e Marketplace (GeM)

Mains level: Benefits of centralised procurement in online mode


Mission to promote GeM use

  1. National Mission on Government e Marketplace (GeM) will be launched on 5th September 2018 to accelerate the adoption and use of GeM by major central Ministries, State Governments and their agencies
  2. The aim of the National Mission is to promote inclusiveness, transparency and efficiency in public procurement and achieve cashless, contactless and paperless transaction
  3. This will increase overall efficiency and lead to cost saving on government expenditure in procurement

About GeM

  1. The Government e Marketplace (GeM) platform provides online, end to end solution for procurement of commonly used goods and services for all Central Government Departments and State Governments, Public Sector Units and affiliated bodies
  2. While all States and Union Territories are buying through GeM, 25 States and UTs have already signed a MoU to make procurement through GeM mandatory

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] “PARIVESH” – an environmental single window hub for Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ clearances launched

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of PARIVESH

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

Context

The PM has launched PARIVESH on the occasion of World Biofuel Day.

PARIVESH Portal

  1. It is a Single-Window Integrated Environmental Management System which stands for Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single-window H
  2. It is a workflow based application and portal, based on the concept of web architecture.
  3. The system has been designed, developed and hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, with technical support from National Informatics Centre, (NIC).
  4. It automates the entire process of submitting the application and tracking the status of such proposals at each stage of processing.

Utility of the portal

  1. It facilitates for online submission, monitoring and management of proposals submitted by Project Proponents to the MOEFCC, as well as to the State Level Environmental Impact Assessment Authorities (SEIAA).
  2. It will also he;p seek various types of clearances (e.g. Environment, Forest, Wildlife and Coastal Regulation Zone Clearances) from Central, State and district-level authorities.
  3. The main highlights of PARIVESH include –
  • single registration and single sign-in for all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ),
  • unique-ID for all types of clearances required for a particular project and
  • single Window interface for the proponent to submit applications for getting all types of clearances (i.e. Environment, Forests, Wildlife and CRZ clearances)

More efficiency to be achieved

The facility of Geographic Information System (GIS) interface will help them in analyzing the proposal efficiently, automatic alerts (via SMS and emails) at important stages to the concerned officers, committee members and higher authorities to check the delays if any.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Bidder Information Management System and Bhoomi Rashi – PFMS Linkage Portals

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the BIMS and Bhoomi Rashi Portals

Mains level:  Read the attached story


Context

1. The Minister for Road Transport & Highways has launched Bidder Information Management System (BIMS) and Bhoomi Rashi and PFMS linkage.
2. These are two IT initiatives of the Road Transport & Highways Ministry that are aimed at expediting pre-construction processes relating to bidding and land acquisition respectively.
3. The focus of these portals is to reduce construction costs while enhancing quality, transformation and optimization of pre-construction, construction and maintenance processes.

Bidder Information Management System (BIMS)

1. BIMS is aimed at streamlining the process of pre-qualification of bidders for EPC Mode of contracts for National Highway works with enhanced transparency and objectivity.
2. The portal will work as a data base of information about bidders, covering basic details, civil works experience, cash accruals and network, annual turnover etc.
3. The pre-qualification of bidders can be assessed from data already stored in the portal, so that technical evaluation can be carried out much faster.
4. BIMS will be used by all the project implementation agencies of the Ministry for maintenance of technical information of civil works of contractors/ concessionaires, and for online technical evaluation of civil works bids.
5. The bidders would be responsible for ensuring that their latest details are available on the BIMS portal.
6. These details will be used by bidders to apply for any RFP for civil works on EPC mode that has been floated by the Ministry and its implementation agencies on the Central Public Procurement Portal (CPPP).
7. It is estimated that BIMS portal will significantly reduce the procurement time for projects through an objective and transparent online evaluation system thereby leading to accelerated project implementation

Bhoomi Rashi

1. It is the portal developed by MoRTH and NIC, comprises the entire revenue data of the country, right down to 6.4 lakh villages.
2. The entire process flow, from submission of draft notification by the State Government to its approval by the Minister of State for RT and publication in e-Gazette, is online.
3. Bhoomi Rashi portal has been instrumental in reducing the time taken for approval and publication of notifications pertaining to land acquisition

Integration of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) with Bhoomi Rashi

1. It is one of the key functionalities to facilitate payment related to compensation for land acquisition to all the beneficiaries directly through the Bhoomi Rashi system.
2. PFMS is a web-based online software application developed and implemented by the Office of Controller General of Accounts (CGA) to facilitate sound public financial management system for Government of India (GoI).
3. It provides various stakeholders with a real-time, reliable and meaningful management information system and an effective decision support system, as part of the Digital India initiative of GoI.
4. With the integration of Bhoomi Rashi with PFMS, payment of Compensation by the Ministry to the beneficiaries will be just-in-time, and without any parking of funds.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] NITI Aayog launches Move Hack, a global mobility hackathon

 

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of Move Hack

Mains level: Not Much


News

Move Hack

  1. NITI Aayog has launched Move Hack, a global mobility hackathon to crowdsource solutions aimed at the future of mobility in India.
  2. The hackathon has a two-pronged campaign approach:
  • Just Code It”: aimed at solutions through innovations in technology/product/software and data analysis, and
  • Just Solve It”: innovative business ideas or sustainable solutions to transform mobility infrastructure through technology.
  1. Move Hack is open to individuals of all nationalities, making it a truly global hackathon.

Why such hackathon?

  1. Transportation and mobility are emerging as potential drivers of innovation and economic growth of the 21st
  2. Rapidly evolving technologies and business models for delivering mobility services have dramatic potential to transform the global transportation sector.
  3. Mobility that ranges from pedestrian and personal transport to public transit and freight movement is extremely critical and impacts rural and urban daily lives.

Digital India Initiatives

Common Service Centres to implement Ayushman Bharat

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SCSs, CSC 2.0

Mains level: Utilising Digital India infrastructure for AB-NHPM


News

Context

Common Service Center (CSC) and National Health Accounts (NHA) signed a MoU to implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme through three-lakh CSCs across the country.

Quick recap of AB-NHPM

Ayushman Bharat is the National Health Protection Scheme, which will cover over 10 crore poor vulnerable families (around 50 crore beneficiaries) providing coverage of up to ₹5 lakh (per family per year) for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation.

How would it facilitate?

  1. According to the MoU, a beneficiary can now visit the nearby CSC to get the benefit of this scheme and CSC will help the beneficiary to identify his name in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare database and his entitlement for the scheme.
  2. The CSCs will help the beneficiary to scan/ upload his KYC documents for verification of his/ her identity and claim his/ her entitlement.
  3. The beneficiary will also have facility to print his/ her Ayushman Scheme card through the centre which will be his/ her base source claim.
  4. CSCs will also provide requisite information about the scheme and promote the same.

Back2Basics

Common Service Center (CSC)

  1. Nodal Agency: Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY), Government of India.
  2. Aim: The CSCs would provide high quality and cost-effective video, voice and data content and services, in the areas of e-governance, education, health, telemedicine, entertainment as well as other private services.
  3. CSCs are the access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, thereby contributing to a digitally and financially inclusive society.
  4. CSC e-Governance Services India Limited is a SPV incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 by the MeitY to monitor the implementation of the CSCs.
  5. CSCs enable the three vision areas of the Digital India programme:
  • Digital infrastructure as Utility to Every Citizen
  • Governance and services on demand
  • Digital empowerment of citizens
  1. Components of CSCs
  • Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE) to provide service to the rural consumer in villages.
  • The agency designated by the State – State Designated Agency (SDA)—to facilitate implementation of the Scheme within the State.
  • Banking Correspondent Agents / Customer Service Points to deliver various banking and financial services.

CSC 2.0

  1. Under the Digital India programme, at least one CSC (preferably more than one) is envisaged in 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayats for delivery of various electronic services to citizens across rural India.
  2. CSC 2.0 is a service delivery oriented entrepreneurship model with a large bouquet of services made available for the citizens through optimum utilization of infrastructure already created in the form of SWAN, SSDG, e-District, SDC, and NOFN/BharatNet.

 

Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed snap] Government-mukt governance

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, & potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: United Nation’s E-Government Development Index, E-Participation Index, India Stack

Mains level: Implemenatation of e-governance in India & its role in public services delivery as well as poverty alleviation


Context

India’s low rank on e-governance index

  1. Despite the astonishing pace of digitisation in India, it continues to rank a relatively low 96 in the United Nation’s E-Government Development Index, whose 2018 rankings were released last week
  2. With an EGDI index score of 0.5669, India is just above the world average of 0.55
  3. India’s score is also shy of Iran (0.6083) and even in the SAARC region, Sri Lanka is ahead of India

About the index

  1. The UN E-Government Development Survey is the only global initiative to measure and track how governments are faring on the e-governance front
  2. The report looks at how e-government can facilitate integrated policies and services across the three dimensions of sustainable development

Reasons for low ranking

  1. In areas like public health and land records, the progress has stopped with putting up some downloadable forms online
  2. Many government departments still insist on physical forms and signatures, despite the near universalisation of an identity instrument like Aadhaar, which allows simple and foolproof authentication

High ranking in e-participation

  1. India does rank very high in one sub-index
  2. It moved up 12 places in the E-Participation Index, from 27 in 2016 to 15 in 2018
  3. The EPI looks at issues like e-information, e-consultation and e-decision making to arrive at a score

The significance of this ranking

  1. India’s high ranking does signify two things:
  • that the government is making more information available online and
  • that more people are in a position to access that information, and also electronically participate in policy formation and decision-making

Linkages between e-governance and poverty alleviation

  1. The reason the UN compiles this index and urges member countries to focus on e-government initiatives is that there is a clear link between greater e-governance and easier public access to government services and a reduction in poverty and inequality
  2. One of the biggest reasons our poverty alleviation measures have failed to achieve the desired impact (apart from corruption and leakage) is inefficient targeting, and lack of information with the intended beneficiaries about plans and schemes meant to assist them

Way Forward

  1. Knowledge is power, but access to knowledge is another kind of power and this is where digital can be a great disruptor
  2. With the India Stack (Aadhaar, UPI, etc. aimed at ensuring presence-less, cashless and paperless service delivery), and the ongoing mobile and broadband revolution, India can become a world leader in e-governance

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] National Resource Centres (NRCs) for preparing online training material

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NRC and its particulars

Mains level: Step towards Digitalizing Education


News

The Government has proposed to set up National Resource Centres (NRCs).

National Resource Centres

  1. Aim: to prepare online training material with a focus on the latest developments in the discipline, new & emerging trends, pedagogical improvements and methodologies for transacting revised curriculum.
  2. Under this initiative, all in-service teachers, irrespective of their subject and seniority have an enabling opportunity to keep updated on the latest developments in their disciplines through the technology-based online refresher course, through SWAYAM platform.
  3. In the first phase, 75 discipline-specific National Resource Centres have been identified, under the Ministry’s Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching (PMMMNMTT) located in *all premier central and state governments Institutes covering all the disciplines.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] Three lakh CSC VLEs to be engaged as Banking Correspondents

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Digital India, CSC VLEs, Digi Gaon Project, Stree Swabhiman

Mains level: The newscard highlights the multi-pronged strategy of development through promoting village level entrepreneurs under Digital India Initiative.


News

Common Service Center (CSC), a Special Purpose Vehicle under the Ministry of Electronics & IT, has entered into an agreement with HDFC Bank to enable its three lakh Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) managing the CSCs to operate as Banking Correspondents.

Making banking services more accessible in rural areas

  1. VLEs of CSC will work as Banking Correspondent of HDFC Bank and support the govt initiative to promote financial inclusion and make banking services more accessible in rural areas.
  2. This agreement is expected to be a game changer as it would significantly contribute to Government’s objectives of enabling Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of various schemes.
  3. Women, senior citizens and persons with disability will especially get benefitted through this initiative.
  4. This will facilitate withdrawal and deposit of government entitlements such as payments under MGNREGA as well as various social welfare schemes like widow pension, handicapped and old age pension, etc.

Providing easy Credit Facility

  1. The HDFC BC (CSC) under this arrangement will also function as Business Facilitator (BF).
  2. This will help and support the citizens, especially merchants, youth, entrepreneurs, farmers and women avail loan facility from the Bank to support in their economic uplift.

 Promoting Digi Gaon Project

  1. Apart from this, HDFC Bank will support CSC SPV in converting 1000 identified villages into Digi Gaon (Digital Villages) within this financial year.
  2. CSC SPV is implementing Digi Gaon initiative in rural and remote villages of the country where citizens can avail various online services of the central and State government.
  3. The Digi Gaons are positioned to promote rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods through community participation and collective action for engendering social change through a bottom-up approach with key focus on the rural citizen.

Promoting Stree Swabhiman

  1. Under its’ commitment to enhancing women’s health and hygiene, HDFC Bank will also support CSC SPV by funding Stree Swabhiman Sanitary Napkin Manufacturing Units.
  2. CSC SPV, through its initiative ‘Stree Swabhiman’ is striving to create a sustainable model for providing affordable and accessible sanitary products close to the homes of adolescent girls and women in rural areas

Digital India Initiatives

2021 census data to be stored electronically

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Census of India

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

Electronic format

  1. The data collected during the 2021 Census will be stored electronically, the first time since the decennial exercise was conducted in 1951 in Independent India.
  2. According to an amended rule notified by the Registrar General of India (RGI), “The schedules and other connected papers shall be disposed of totally or in part by the Director of Census Operations, after creating an electronic record of such documents.”

Any tampering will be a Punishable Offence

  1. Till now the “schedules” (a tabular form containing details of individuals), carried by enumerators to households, were being stored in a physical form at the government’s storehouse in Delhi.
  2. It is based on these schedules that the relevant statistical information on population, language, and occupation are sorted and published.
  3. The records running into crores of pages were occupying space in the government office and it has now been decided that they will be stored in an electronic format.
  4. Any tampering with the data will invite punishment under the Information Technology Act, 2000

Gearing Up for 2021 Census

  1. Enumerators will start “house listing” in 2020 and the headcount will begin from February 2021 onwards.
  2. An individual’s household data is not published by the RGI. They are published in the form of tables on the Census website. The data is preserved for 10 years and then it is destroyed.
  3. From 2021 Census it will be stored forever in electronic format.

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] National Generic Document Registration System adopted in Punjab and Andaman& Nicobar Islands

Note4students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NGDRS

Mains level: Not Much


News

  1. The Union Minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Mines has inaugurated NGDRS in all sub-registrar offices in Andaman & Nicobar Islands from New Delhi through a Video-Conferencing.
  2. To aptly address the diversity and variations prevailing across the States on account of languages, processes, formulae and formats the NGDRS has been formed.

National Generic Document Registration System

  1. State-wide inauguration of the NGDRS was done by the State Government on 27th June 2018 with the technical assistance and collaboration of NIC including its software development unit at NIC Pune.
  2. This generic customizable software, when universally adopted in the Country, will enable ‘anywhere access’ to data and information to both the common man and the enforcement and regulatory agencies.
  3. Transparency will be promoted due to registration through digital means and people will get the benefits in a hassle-free manner.
  4. The NGDRS system has been piloted in 3 States (Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra). 6 more states and UTs (Goa, A&N Islands, Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur, Mizoram) are moving towards this system.
  5. The Department is presently focussing on implementation of NGDRS in these 14 States, to optimally use the available funds in a cost-effective, productive and time-bound manner.

Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP)

  1. The DILRMP aims to digitize the maps, integrate the textual and spatial data, carry out the surveys to update the records by using latest available techniques including GIS mapping.
  2. More emphasis is being given to verification and establishing conclusive ownership including use of Biometric identification using Aadhaar and use of blockchain technology.
  3. With its priority to updated and error-free land records and easy access to information thereto, Government of India made the DILRMP into a cent per cent centrally-funded central sector scheme from 01st April 2016.

Digital India Initiatives

Why ‘Digital India’ remains a distant dream

 Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, & potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Despite ambitious targets for Digital India, only a privileged minority is able to access digital services in the country. This raises questions on the success of the mission as well as other reforms connected to it that are in pipeline


Internet coverage still inadequate

  1. India continues to lag behind peer countries when it comes to internet penetration
  2. Only one in four Indian adults either owns a smartphone or uses the internet occasionally
  3. India scrapes the bottom of a list of 39 large economies considered in the survey, which include both developed and emerging markets
  4. India also ranked among the very lowest, just above Tanzania, in terms of the percentage of adults owning a smartphone

Internet usage linkages

  1. India’s slow adoption of smartphones has impeded the spread of internet in the country since most Indians tend to access the internet on their mobiles
  2. Mobile phones can be extremely important tools—whether (in) helping people gain access to financial services or providing the much-needed assistance with health and agricultural needs
  3. The share of those using digital payments remains among the lowest in India, according to a World Bank survey published earlier this year

Digital India Initiatives

NITI Aayog proposes model to adopt AI for inclusive growth

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : AI, Big Data

Mains level : Utility of AI for Inclusive Growth

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: AI, Big Data

Mains level: Utility of AI for Inclusive Growth


News

NITI Aayog’s National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence

  1. India needs to create new jobs to absorb the large number of workers rendered redundant by automation and put in place a regulatory framework.
  2. This will help reap benefits of artificial intelligence use in areas such as health, farming, education, infrastructure and transportation.
  3. In a ‘national strategy for AI’, prepared to give the country an edge in this area, Niti Aayog suggested ways to promote adoption of machine learning in key areas of the economy guided by rules on ethics, privacy and intellectual property protection that are to be evolved by new institutions.

AI for Inclusive Growth

  1. The think tank said its blueprint was aimed at leveraging AI for economic growth, social development and inclusive growth and to make the country a model for emerging and developing economies.
  2. The blueprint suggested that a robust model to use this technology will increase access and affordability of quality healthcare, enhance farmers’ income and reduce wastage, improve access to quality education, provide efficient connectivity to the urban population and help create smarter transportation modes.
  3. Promotion of job creation in new areas like data annotation needs to be identified and promoted, as these would have the potential of absorbing a large portion of the workforce that may find itself redundant due to increasing automation.

Addressing Job Concerns

  1. The proposals come at a time when there is widespread concern about job losses on account of automation although it would result in new jobs, which require higher level of technical skills.
  2. As technology increasingly disrupts the nature of jobs and shifts the benchmarks of technological aptitude, skilling and reskilling of workforce forms an integral part of our approach to adopting artificial intelligence said the strategy paper.

The Way Forward

  1. While promoting use of AI, which is driven by big data, development of new technology and products has to be based on fairness, accountability and transparency
  2. Data is one of the primary drivers of artificial intelligence solutions, and thus appropriate handling of data, ensuring privacy and security is of prime importance.
  3. Challenges include data usage without consent, risk of identification of individuals through data and data selection bias

Digital India Initiatives

Niti Aayog partners with Google to grow India’s artificial intelligence ecosystem

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the programme, Machine Learning

Mains level: Harnessing AI for the overall economic productivity of the nation


News

Fostering AI Ecosystem in India

  1. The government think-tank Niti Aayog said that it will be working with tech giant Google to develop AI-based solutions aimed at improving the overall economic productivity of the nation
  2. The move is aimed at fostering growth for India’s nascent AI and machine learning (ML) ecosystem, said Niti Aayog
  3. India is embracing future technologies such as machine learning and AI to augment its capacity in health care, improve outcomes in education, develop innovative governance systems for our citizens and improve overall economic productivity of the nation.
  4. While announcing the budget, finance minister had said that Niti Aayog will setup a national programme to conduct research and development in frontier technologies such as AI

Committees on AI

  1. In February, the IT ministry formed four AI committees on –
  • citizen-centric services
  • data platforms, skilling, reskilling and R&D
  • legal regulatory
  • cybersecurity

2. These committees would be headed by IIT director and industry experts from bodies such as Nasscom

3. The ministry will “coordinate” with Niti Aayog on this

Particulars of the programme

  1. Niti’s partnership with Google will unlock massive training initiatives, support start-ups and encourage AI research through PhD scholarships, all of which contributes to the larger idea of a technologically-empowered New India
  2. Under the aegis of this program, Google will train and incubate Indian AI start-ups in an accelerator program
  3. These start-ups will be mentored and coached by Google and its affiliates to enable them to better leverage AI in their respective business models

Back2Basics

Machine Learning

  1. Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.
  2. It is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed.
  3. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can access data and use it learn for themselves.
  4. The process of learning begins with observations or data, such as examples, direct experience, or instruction, in order to look for patterns in data and make better decisions in the future based on the examples that we provide.
  5. In the past decade, machine learning has given us self-driving cars, practical speech recognition, effective web search, etc.
  6. Examples: Google Assistant, Google Allo etc.

Digital India Initiatives

EPFO Introduces ‘View Pension Passbook’ Service for the pensioners through Umang App

Note4Students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UMANG app, e-services offered by EPFO

Mains level: Govt initiative to go paperless


News

New initiative: Pension Passbook Service

  1. Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), which is providing a host of e-services for its stakeholders, has now introduced a new service through ‘UMANG app
  2. On clicking ‘View Passbook’ option, it requires PPO Number and Date of Birth information to be entered by the pensioner
  3. After successful validation of the information fed, an OTP will be sent to the registered mobile number of the pensioner
  4. On entering OTP, ‘Pensioner Passbook’ will display the details of the pensioner like Name, DOB along with last pension credited information
  5. The facility to download the financial year wise complete passbook details is also available

Back2Basics

Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG) app

  1. UMANG is a Government of India all-in-one single unified secure multi-channel multi-platform multi-lingual multi-service freeware mobile app for accessing over 1,200 central and state government services.
  2. This is a key component of Digital India government initiative to make all traditional offline government services available 24/7 online through a single unified app.
  3. This e-governance app was developed by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and National e-Governance Division (NeGD) in 2016 and launched in November 2017.
  4. The services include as AADHAR, DigiLocker, Bharat Bill Payment System, PAN, EPFO services, PMKVY services, AICTE, CBSE, tax and fee or utility bills payments, education, job search, tax, business, health, agriculture, travel, birth certificates, e-District, passport and much more
  5. Sample usage of the app includes locating CBSE exam centers, viewing school results, calculating crop insurance premium, accessing soil health cards, booking OPD appointments at government hospitals and viewing lab reports from there, registering and applying for the various schemes, raising EPFO claims and etc.

Digital India Initiatives

e-Vidhan mission mode project to make functioning of State Legislatures in India paperless

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the e-vidhan project

Mains level: Expected benefits of the e-vidhan project.


Inauguration of the project and new office of the Central Project Monitoring Unit for e-Vidhan project 

  1. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has inaugurated new office of Central Project Monitoring Unit for e-Vidhan project of Government at Parliament House Annexe
  2. This was done as a part of Swachhata Pakhwada being observed by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs from 16th to 30th April, 2018
  3. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs is the nodal ministry for the project
  4. It is taking all necessary steps for rolling out project in all states
  5. One of the key component of the strategy devised for implementation of the project is to create Project Monitoring Units both at Central as well as State levels.

e-Vidhan project

  1. It is a project to digitize and make functioning of State Legislatures in India paperless
  2. It is a part of broader Digital India initiative of the Central Government
  3. It is likely to contribute to cleanliness and environment by reducing the use of papers to a great extent

Digital India Initiatives

‘Digital transformation to add $154 billion to India’s GDP’

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial intelligence (AI)

Mains level: Digital transformation and its possible impacts on economy


Impact of digital transformation

  1. Within the next four years, it is estimated that nearly 60% of India’s GDP will have a strong connection to the digital transformation trends
  2. Digital transformation will add an estimated $154 billion to India’s GDP by 2021
  3. It would also increase the growth rate by 1% every year

Current scenario

  1. In 2017, about 4% of India’s GDP was derived from digital products and services created through digital technologies
  2. This was from digital products and services created directly through the use of digital technologies, such as mobility, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI)

Back2Basics

Internet of Things (IoT)

  1. IoT is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data
  2. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to inter-operate within the existing Internet infrastructure
  3. The IoT allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure
  4. When IoT is augmented with sensors and actuators, the technology becomes an instance of the more general class of cyber-physical systems, which also encompasses technologies such as smart grids, virtual power plants, smart homes, intelligent transportation and smart cities

Digital India Initiatives

[pib] BharatNet Phase 1: Target Achieved Through Meticulous Planning and Focused Implementation at Ground Level

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: BharatNet

Mains level: Digital India program and its successes


News

  • Government has achieved a significant milestone under the BharatNet by completing Phase-1 of the project by connecting over one lakh Gram Panchayats (GP) across the country with high-speed optical fibre network
  • BharatNet network built under Phase 1 envisages delivery of high-speed broadband services in over 2.5 lakh villages benefitting more than 200 million rural Indians.

Vision & Mission

  • The project will generate massive employment opportunities both direct and indirect in the country in days to come
  • To provide affordable broadband services to citizens and institutions in rural and remote areas, in partnership with States and the private sector
  •  BharatNet infrastructure is expected to catalyse digital delivery of services for the rural poor – viz. health, education, livelihood, skills, e-agriculture and e-commerce
  • The tariff for BharatNet was also revised to attract more Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to use the infrastructure to provide high-speed broadband services in the rural areas through Wi-Fi, FTTH, and for developing utilisation models by TSPs and Common Service Centres (CSC)

Digital India Initiatives

Online platform for employees to access all service details

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency & accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, & potential

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: e-HRMS

Mains level: Measures being taken to enhance public delivery


Online platform for central government employees

  1. An online platform has been launched for central government employees to apply for leave and access their service-related information
  2. The platform is called electronic-Human Resource Management System (e-HRMS) 

About the platform

  1. Employees will be able to see all their details with respect to service book, leave, GPF, salary, etc.
  2. They will also be able to apply for different kind of claims/reimbursements, loan/advances, leave, leave encashment, LTC advances, tour etc. on a single platform
  3. Employees shall not be dependent on the administration for updating data

Benefits

  1. It will instil more responsibility and accountability among all government servants
  2. The availability of online data of employees will help the organisation to take many administrative decisions easily like planning of recruitments, posting of officials to a task as per their experience and qualification
  3. It will also help employees to concentrate more on public service once free from personal anxiety of getting their work done
  4. This will, in turn, enhance public delivery and more employees will be available for the core work of the government
  5. The availability of centralized data will enable government for policy research and planning as such educational qualifications and other competencies and deficiencies may be easily obtained

Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed snap] Reaching the bottom of India’s digital pyramid

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Issues which are halting the targets of Digital India, requirements of people for adopting digital services


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the issues related to Digitization
  2. And what the requirements of people are(of using digital services)

How Digitization has received a significant policy push in India?

  1. There has been an emphasis on
    (1) linking bank accounts and mobile number with Aadhaar
    (2) maintaining digital records,
    (3) enforcing digital payments through demonetization or Aadhaar-enabled payments systems
    (4) and making digitization as one of the core requirements in GST (goods and services tax) filings

Is this policy push enough for becoming a digital economy?

  1. The policy push towards digitization is one leg of the story
  2. Its success crucially depends also on its adoption by the majority of the population living in far-flung rural areas
  3. Without that, it can’t be achieved

Digitization through Smartphones

  1. Smartphones are expected to share the bulk of the workload in digital India
  2. However, their share currently is around 33% of the mobile users (expected to reach around 40% by 2019)
  3. The mobile phone internet user penetration among Indian population is still about 24% and even by 2020 is expected to reach just 35%
  4. These figures point to an opportunity for digital inclusion for sure, but there are many issues

Issues which are halting the targets of Digital India
(1) Financial exclusion of a significant part of the population

  1. There are still snags in the outreach of Indian financial system where digitization is expected to play an enabling role
  2. A recent study by Assocham and EY reports that 19% of the Indian population remains unbanked or financially excluded
  3. Without addressing issues like this will only magnify the digital inequality in the country

(2) Uninterrupted access to power

  1. Uninterrupted access to power is an essential ingredient to fuel a digital economy. However, existing statistics look somewhat disappointing
  2. Around 22% of rural households (roughly 40 million) across the country still do not have access to electricity

What should be done?
Absorption
capacity of Digitization tools

  1. Users with prior working knowledge of internet and smartphone applications are more likely to accept digitization tools
  2. It emphasizes the need for internet and mobile application training aimed at less educated and the low-income groups

Need based technological tools

  1. People has opined that digitization tools and technology should meet their needs
  2. t emphasizes the need to identify the requirements of people at the bottom of the digital pyramid which could get served by digitization, take it to them and incorporate their views to enhance its acceptance (co-creation to be precise)

Service charges on digitization services

  1. The service charges should be commensurate with the benefits of digitization
  2. It will continue to remain a challenge for people at the bottom of the digital pyramid who stay stretched to make both ends meet on a daily basis

Ensuring security would increase adaptability

  1. Existence of technological and legal institutions to ensure security would increase adaptability
  2. The right to privacy is possibly the first step in that direction
  3. A beginning no doubt, but it will take time before India’s data protection regime comes on a par with standards set in jurisdictions like the European Union or the US

Education standards

  1. Last but not the least, the aptitude to read, write, comprehend and communicate is a must to participate in the digitization movement
  2. India’s current literacy rate is at 80%, and there are expectations of achieving 100% over the next five years
  3. However, literacy would lead to participation and empowerment in a digital India only when it can ensure lifelong reading ability

Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed snap] The long road to cashless India

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UPI, IMPS etc.

Mains level: Complement this article with other newcards curated by us on the same issue of cashless economy


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the PPIs and the UPI-based apps usefulness in making India a cashless economy
  2. It also talks about some challenges

Future of online payments

  1. According to some experts, debit cards, credit cards and ATMs becoming redundant in the next three to four years
  2. Since demonetisation, the government has been working to make India a cashless economy
  3. With the ubiquity of Aadhaar, smartphones and the new unified payments interface (UPI)-based apps, it wants to move on from cash to a digital payments economy—where everything from payment to receipt is done online

Data on different payment systems

  1. While debit and credit cards continue to dominate retail digital payments, the UPI and prepaid payment instruments (PPIs) are catching up
  2. Between 2014-15 and 2016-17, the share of PPIs in total volume of card transactions increased from 18% to 36%
  3. Then, in August 2016 came UPI, based on banks’ immediate payment service (IMPS)
  4. It linked the user’s various bank accounts to a single mobile application, doing away with the need to recharge a wallet
  5. UPI transaction volumes have increased from 4.2 million in January to 30 million in September 2017 (growing 85% between August and September itself)

Competition between PPIs and UPI

  1. While PPIs still have much higher volumes (87 million) right now, UPI is eating into their share as well as that of cards
  2. This is expected to continue with the launch of UPI 2.0, which will bring the ease of pre-authorized deductions for recurring payments, like cab rides, to UPI, along with a possible increase in the transaction limit from the present Rs1 lakh
  3. Major PPIs have already integrated UPI into their service so as to not lose customers to competing UPI-only apps

A prerequisite to a less-cash economy is financial inclusion
Challenges:

  1. The Jan Dhan Yojana (JDY) had laudably managed to open 294 million bank accounts as of August 2017
  2. But a quarter of them remain zero-balance inoperative accounts
  3. If people received income in their bank accounts and could spend digitally, they could go cashless. But most people work in the informal economy and get paid in cash
  4. Then there is the scarce use of mobile payment platforms
  5. Most product vendors still don’t use a mobile platform to receive payments because there are limited use-cases for digital money
  6. Finally, mobile wallets are largely designed for use on smartphones, and 56% of Indians still use feature phones
  7. Given the frequent power outages, poor connectivity and low income, smartphones have limited utility for most people

Contribution of the Payment Banks

  1. India has been unable to increase accessibility to banks within the formal banking system; only 27% villages have a bank branch within 5km
  2. But the increase in the number of payment banks can bring the basic banking functions of securing deposits, providing an ATM-debit card and allowing access to online payment gateways

The way forward

  1. Interoperability across PPIs may increase adoption by vendors and, therefore, increase the use-cases for people
  2. But the largely informal nature of the economy, the preponderance of feature phones and the old habit of using cash are enduring problems that will keep the cashless economy from spreading outside urban centres for many years

Digital India Initiatives

One year of demonetisation: Digital transactions fail to gather steam after initial surge

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Growth

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Unified Payment Interface (UPI), NPCI, BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money), electronic personal consumption expenditure (ePCE), Bharat QR Scan, GST

Mains level: Digitization initiatives by government and their results


Digital transactions see a dip

  1. After an initial surge in digital payments, largely attributed to a shortage of cash in the banking system, digital transactions have seen a dip
  2. This indicates a slow reversal in the usage of digital platforms
  3. This is despite doubling of point of sale (PoS) machines in merchant establishments across the country
  4. Mobile wallets have also seen a dip in volumes and value of transactions after the initial surge

UPI platform also not gaining pace

  1. Unified Payment Interface (UPI), the payment platform of NPCIpromoted by RBI — had a slow takeoff even after the launch of BHIM (Bharat Interface for Money), which uses the UPI platform
  2. The value of transactions through UPI are much below one percent of the total electronic payments in the country

Not a complete switch back 

  1. Bankers and analysts said a complete switch back to pre-November 8 trends has not happened
  2. It shows the possibility that there has been some behavioral change in transactions patterns
  3. At a modest 11 percent, the country’s electronic personal consumption expenditure (ePCE) rate is a far cry from some leading economies with ePCE rates upwards of 60 percent

All household having credit/debit cards still less digital transactions

  1. With over 800 million debit cards and over 30 million credit cards in the market, almost every household in India now has access to a digital payment
  2. This has not yet translated into digital transactions
  3. At 3 times growth in payment volumes and over 3.5 times growth in transactions, consumers are beginning to enjoy the benefits of the debit card beyond its use as an ATM withdrawal instrument
  4. The year after demonetisation was driven by innovation, mainly new mobile applications allowing merchants to receive digital payments via UPI, Link Based, Bharat QR Scan & Pay to mPOS

GST helpful for digitization

  1. GST has given the much-needed boost to the digitization initiative
  2. It will now be difficult to make cash deals anymore with digital trails of every transaction

Way forward

  1. Both the government and the regulators need to continue the initiatives taken by them
  2. Principle-based policies, regulation versus current approach of product or entity based regulations, seamless access to payments network and other critical payments infrastructures like UPI and RTGS will make sure that incentives continue to grow for digital transactions

Digital India Initiatives

Phase 1 of Bharat Net project to be completed by December

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bharat Net, NOFN, i-Bharat 2017

Mains level: Digital India initiative and its various support pillars


Bharat Net has now reached 83,000 gram panchayats

  1. The first phase of the national optic fiber network will be completed by December this year
  2. Named as Bharat Net project — it aims to deploy high-speed optical fiber cables across rural areas
  3. It will be providing internet access to 100,000 gram panchayats

‘i-Bharat 2017’

  1. It was a conference based on the theme of ‘ICT Elucidations for Unserved and Unsolved’
  2. It was organized by industry body FICCI in association with the ministry of electronics and information technology

Two important areas in the interplay of technology and policy

  1. There are two areas in the interplay of technology and policy where the world is closely looking at India
  2. One is how India will leverage its Aadhaar and Election Commission data base
  3. Second, how will the country tackle the privacy debate after the Supreme Court ruling on privacy being a fundamental right

The challenge

  1. With a large scale of people (about 250 million) expected to migrate from rural areas to urban cities by 2020, the challenge resides in readying urban cities to meet the rise in demand of various services
  2. The industry therefore needs to work towards creating affordable solutions in the space of health, education, etc, using the power of digital

Back2Basics

National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN)- Bharat Net

  1. National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) is an ambitious initiative to trigger a broadband revolution in rural areas
  2. The National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) aims to connect all the 2,50,000 Gram panchayats in the country and provide 100 Mbps connectivity to all gram panchayats (GPs)
  3. To achieve this, the existing fibres of PSUs (BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid) were utilised and incremental fibre was laid to connect to Gram Panchayats wherever necessary
  4. Non-discriminatory access to the NOFN was provided to all the service providers like Telecom Service Providers (TSPs), ISPs, Cable TV operators and Content providers to launch various services in rural areas
  5. The NOFN project was funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)
  6. BharatNet shall be a project of national importance to establish, by 2017, a highly scalable network infrastructure accessible on a non-discriminatory basis, to provide on-demand, affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps for all households and on-demand capacity to all institutions, to realise the vision of Digital India, in partnership with States and the private sector

Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed snap] The need for doing digital

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Internet of things, blockchain tech, big data, etc.

Mains level: Importance of digital technology is well known. UPSC is known to ask questions on such kind of topics.


News

Context

  1. The article effectively explains how digital leadership and digital transformation can be beneficial for companies and also in other fields like agriculture.

Why is Digital Technologies important for India?

  1. India is particularly poised to take advantage of digital technologies
  2. Because they have the potential to add economic value of $550 billion to $1 trillion per year by 2025, and create millions of well-paying, productive jobs

When is digital leadership important for companies?

  1. Digital leadership is effective for companies only when it creates value—for their customers, partners and employees

What was the issues in deploying digital technologies in companies?

  1. The business process improvement strategy was often overlooked as the technology teams typically jumped into operations deploying a set of digital tools
  2. This mindset is precisely what led to failed implementation and reduced business value in the past
  3. What is going wrong in solving this issue: Organisations, in their attempt to solve their problems, have rushed to adopt various isolated technology components before defining the problem they were trying to solve

How is today’s situation is different from the above issues?

  1. Today, the entire thought process has been changed
  2. Addressing design is now the first port of call in the new-age digital businesses that intelligently connect people, things and business, to create a good experience for their customers
  3. The result is simultaneous growth in revenue and reduction in costs
  4. Retail chains are experiencing the impact when they turned its online sales platform into a unique mobile experience
  5. And moved its infrastructure to the cloud, leveraging a digital platform that combined several digital tools, including the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, blockchain and big data analytics to create a better experience for its users

Benefits of digital technologies in other areas

  1. Production at an agriculture farm can be monitored digitally, thereby allowing informed, intelligent decisions that can prevent crop spoilage, increase efficiency with sustainability
  2. For large manufacturing companies, digital technology can empower the workforce to fix critical problems in real time

How digital leadership can accomplish above mentioned targets?

  1. By using IoT, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and big data analytics
  2. All these technologies provide tremendous value

The way forward

  1. Technology is core to digital transformation
  2. Digital leaders realise that digital transformation needs to be viewed in a holistic manner
  3. In a manner that impacts end-to-end business processes, creating delight at every user interface, and delivering real business value

Back2basics

To know more about the IoT tech, Click here

Digital India Initiatives

Worried SC calls for robust data protection regime

Image Source


Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Data protection has more important after the recent judgement of the SC on the Right to Privacy


What did the SC say?

  1. The SC has urged the government to put in place a robust mechanism for data protection
  2. According to the SC, dangers to personal data originate not only from the government but also from private players

Panel report and Government’s stand on the issue

  1. The Centre has undertaken in the court that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology would work with the panel(constituted by Government)
  2. Government will hand over all necessary information to it within the next eight weeks, after which the latter will start its deliberations
  3. The government has already indicated in the court that the panel is framing a data protection Bill similar to the “technology-neutral” draft Privacy Bill
  4. This bill was  submitted by an earlier expert committee  to the Planning Commission of India in 2012

Digital India Initiatives

Centre mulls changes to BPO scheme on tepid response

  1. The Centre is mulling changing some of the clauses in its scheme to promote BPOs in smaller towns across the country
  2. Reason: Following tepid interest received from companies until now
  3. The India BPO Promotion Scheme (IBPS), under Digital India Programme, was introduced to incentivise BPO firms to extend operations beyond the metros
  4. With an outlay of about Rs.500 crore, it aims to incentivise establishment of 48,300 seats, providing about 1,45,000 jobs considering 3-shift BPO operations
  5. Against this, the government has so far been able to allocate about 13,000 seats
  6. Reasons: Both companies and employees are reluctant to move to smaller towns

Digital India Initiatives

In Raichur, an employment exchange for the digital age- II

  1. C-EOL enrols educated youth from the district at a fee of Rs. 100
  2. It keeps watch on vacancies and job-openings in public, quasi-government and private sectors
  3. It closely coordinates with the HR wing of employers & recruitment camps are arranged at its office
  4. The Centre updates candidates on job opportunities, based specifically on their profiles
  5. C-EOL also has a training and skill-development mechanism to make candidates more job ready

Discuss: Where all, do you think, you can use this case study? Digital India, employment initiatives… anything else?

Digital India Initiatives

In Raichur, an employment exchange for the digital age- I

  1. In Karnataka’s dry and impoverished Raichur district, an administration-led initiative is linking youth with private sector jobs, throwing in skill development also into the mix
  2. The Centre for Employment, Opportunities and Learning (C-EOL) has been launched by Raichur Deputy Commissioner
  3. It is registered under The Societies Registration Act
  4. It has placed 153 youth in private companies over the last two months

Digital India Initiatives

Govt to spend $7.2 bn on IT in 2016

  1. Source: A report by Gartner Inc
  2. Driven by the Digital India initiative, Govt’s spending on information technology (IT) products and services might reach $7.2 billion in 2016, up 2.4% against last year
  3. This is $200 million more than what was projected in June
  4. The e-governance initiatives to simplify digital channels and data-driven initiatives are driving investments in the government and are anticipated to grow through 2020
  5. Background: Govt’s IT spending has gradually increased from $6.4 billion in 2014, when the Narendra Modi-led government rolled out Digital India, to $6.8 billion to 2015, to reach $7.2 billion by 2016

Digital India Initiatives

Local language internet users to jump to 400 million by 2020: Google

  1. The number of internet users in India will jump 85 per cent from 350 million in 2016 to 650 million by 2020
  2. As the same time, people accessing the Internet in local language will more than double from 150 million at present to about 400 million (61% of Indian users) by 2020
  3. It pointed out that it has seen 10x growth in local language queried over the past one-and-a-half-year
  4. Hindi content consumption on the internet is growing 5 times the rate at which English content is consumed

Discuss: India’s internet use growth rate is almost 5 times that of global average. How can India capitalise on this digital advantage and what are the challenges it faces?

Digital India Initiatives

[op-ed snap] Why India must leverage digital finance tech

  1. Theme: Digital finance could provide a boost of up to USD 3.7 trillion to emerging economies by 2025
  2. Recently, a McKinsey Global Institute report, Digital Finance For All: Powering Inclusive Growth In Emerging Economies was released
  3. It is about the convergence of the two trends – financial inclusion and growing internet penetration
  4. These trends would result in improving private sector and govt. efficiency through ways such as decreasing leakages (as in direct benefit transfer), or decreasing cost of service for financial institutions
  5. Increasing financial inclusion would also result in increased funds for investment.
  6. Knock-on effects: First, digital payments leave a data trail and better tax administration.
  7. Second, crunching data will yield useful insights for policy making, e.g. spending patterns for poor etc.
  8. Third, new business models are enabled, e.g. e-commerce and peer-to-peer lending.
  9. India has a good infrastructure in place, e.g. the Jan Dhan Yojana and Unified Payments Interface
  10. But many challenges remain, particularly changing the behavioural patterns and preferences.

Digital India Initiatives

Undersea cable to link Andaman, mainland

  1. What? Union Cabinet approved a proposal for improving telecom connectivity in Andaman & Nicobar Islands
  2. How? By connecting the union territory with Chennai via an undersea optical fibre cable at a cost of Rs.1,102.38 crore
  3. Advantages: The connectivity would allow the implementation of e-governance initiatives, establishment of enterprises and e-commerce facilities in the islands
  4. It would also allow for support to educational institutes for knowledge-sharing and availability of job opportunities
  5. The project is likely to be completed by December 2018

Digital India Initiatives

Indian smartphone sales to double by 2020: Report

  1. Source: Euromonitor International
  2. However, the sale will be less than half the number sold in China
  3. The US smartphone market will shrink in the coming years, letting India overtake it in 2018
  4. India will become the world’s second largest smartphone market by value in 2019
  5. Most handsets sold in China and the US now are repeat purchases, unlike in India where sales are driven by buyers switching from feature phones to smartphones
  6. Most handset makers, including market leader Samsung, have launched cheap smartphones in India to tap this segment

Digital India Initiatives

CSCs may assemble LED lamps to boost rural economy

  1. Aim: Tapping the 2.29 lakh Common Service Centers (CSCs) in the country to boost rural economy
  2. CSCs can be a great system for generating revenues and employment in rural India
  3. Through these centers, Govt will also provide tele-consultation services for animal healthcare as well as legal issues in rural areas
  4. Kits for testing of dieseses such as malaria and dengue will also be made available at these centers

Digital India Initiatives

Mobile access scheme for remote areas soon

  1. News: Govt will soon unveil a new scheme to provide mobile phone access to over 55,000 villages, particularly those in border states and in the Himalayan region
  2. Aim: To push forward the flagship Digital India programme
  3. Funding: The scheme will be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)
  4. Grouping: Villages have been divided into Himalayan regions such as Jammu and Kashmir, Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh
  5. The second set will be those states which share borders with other nations

Digital India Initiatives

Digital Locker Authority soon to push paperless governance

  1. News: Govt will appoint a Digital Locker Authority to establish, administer, and manage Digital Locker system
  2. Aim: To preserve and retain information for efficient delivery of services to the users
  3. Functions: Granting licenses and to authorise a private entity to offer these services
  4. Prepare standards and guidelines, while also ensuring compliance by service providers
  5. Guidelines include those for data retention and migration, audit and security and privacy
  6. Notify the fee or service charges a subscriber will have to pay for availing Digital Locker services from authorized service providers
  7. Currently, the services are offered for free

Digital India Initiatives

Electronics manufacturing policy may soon get nod

  1. News: NITI Aayog has finalised ‘Make in India- Strategy for Electronic Products’- a long-term policy to boost manufacturing of electronic products by providing a host of incentives to attract investment
  2. 10-year tax holiday: For companies investing over $1 billion that can also create 20,000 jobs
  3. This would help bring some large foreign firms to India
  4. Duty-free market: We need to forge free trade agreements (FTAs) to create duty-free market for electronic goods
  5. Set up coastal economic zones (CEZ) which may be up to 200-250 kilometres wide from the coastline
  6. Globalise: Big success requires operating in a large world market- therefore India must reorient its policy to ensure the industry becomes competitive in export markets
  7. Stats: India’s domestic consumption of electronics hardware in 2014-15 was $63.6 billion while imports accounted for 58% of this figure

Digital India Initiatives

India ranks 39th in Asia Pacific on fixed broadband

  1. News: India ranks a low 39th in terms of fixed broadband adoption among Asia Pacific countries, with just 1.3% of its citizens subscribing to such a service in 2015
  2. Report: ‘State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific 2016: Uncovering the Widening Broadband Divide’ by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
  3. India ranks lower than countries such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in ESCAP countries in 2015

Digital India Initiatives

Indians online to hit 730 mn by 2020

  1. Context: The Future of Internet in India report compiled by Nasscom and Akamai Technologies
  2. Findings: The number of Internet users in India is likely to more than double to 730 million by 2020
  3. There were about 330 million Internet users in the country as of December 2015
  4. India, which has an Internet user base next only to China, will remain the fastest growing market
  5. Rural: 75% of the new users would come from rural areas
  6. Vernacs: Interestingly, a majority (75 per cent) of new users are expected to consume data in local languages
  7. E-commerce market: Valued at $17 billion in 2015-16, is expected to double to $34 billion by 2020

Digital India Initiatives

Forecast of growth in different IT services

  1. IT service: Including consulting, software support, business process outsourcing, IT outsourcing, implementation, and hardware support is expected to grow 8.8% in 2016 to reach $1.6 billion
  2. BPO: Business process outsourcing sub-segment will grow by 22%
  3. Software: Govt spending will total $938 million in 2016, a 9.9% increase from 2015
  4. Telecom services will be at $1.5 billion, with the mobile network services sub-segment recording the fastest growth of 3.5 percent in 2016 to reach $793 million
  5. Driver: The ‘Digital India’ initiative is driving the investments in the government sector
  1. IT service: Including consulting, software support, business process outsourcing, IT outsourcing, implementation, and hardware support is expected to grow 8.8% in 2016 to reach $1.6 billion
  2. BPO: Business process outsourcing sub-segment will grow by 22%
  3. Software: Govt spending will total $938 million in 2016, a 9.9% increase from 2015
  4. Telecom services will be at $1.5 billion, with the mobile network services sub-segment recording the fastest growth of 3.5 percent in 2016 to reach $793 million
  5. Driver: The ‘Digital India’ initiative is driving the investments in the government sector

Digital India Initiatives

Govt. IT spending in India to reach $7 billion in 2016: report

  1. Context: A report by information technology research and advisory company Gartner
  2. Govt will spend $7 billion on IT products and services in 2016, an increase of 3.1% over 2015
  3. Included: Expected spending to be made by various state, local governments and the Centre
  4. Services: Internal services, software, IT services, data center, devices and telecom services
  5. Also, the software market will be led by growth in infrastructure
  1. Context: A report by information technology research and advisory company Gartner
  2. Govt will spend $7 billion on IT products and services in 2016, an increase of 3.1% over 2015
  3. Included: Expected spending to be made by various state, local governments and the Centre
  4. Services: Internal services, software, IT services, data center, devices and telecom services
  5. Also, the software market will be led by growth in infrastructure

Digital India Initiatives

PMO website launched in six regional languages

  1. Context: The official website of Prime Minister’s Office in six major regional languages
  2. Languages: Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali
  3. Aim: To reach out the people and communicate with them
  4. Also to enhance the interaction between people from all parts of the country and the Prime Minister on various issues concerning their welfare and development
  1. Context: The official website of Prime Minister’s Office in six major regional languages
  2. Languages: Gujarati, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali
  3. Aim: To reach out the people and communicate with them
  4. Also to enhance the interaction between people from all parts of the country and the Prime Minister on various issues concerning their welfare and development

Digital India Initiatives

Digital vans all set to take-governance to rural areas

  1. Context: A new campaign by Govt to increase the awareness about various e-governance services in rural and semi-urban areas
  2. Campaign under Telecom Ministry
  3. Period: It will run from May 30, 2016 to March 31 2017
  4. 66 vans equipped with Internet and audio-visual facilities will go to 657 districts and cover 13 lakh km by March 2017
  5. Aim: To reach out to more than 10 lakh citizens and register over 1.5 lakh rural citizens for MyGov, digital locker, Aadhaar and other digital services
  6. Also to educate rural people, especially the youth, about the various Digital India Initiatives
  7. Facility: Rural citizens will be informed about the services offered at CSC centres in 14 languages
  1. Context: A new campaign by Govt to increase the awareness about various e-governance services in rural and semi-urban areas
  2. Campaign under Telecom Ministry
  3. Period: It will run from May 30, 2016 to March 31 2017
  4. 66 vans equipped with Internet and audio-visual facilities will go to 657 districts and cover 13 lakh km by March 2017
  5. Aim: To reach out to more than 10 lakh citizens and register over 1.5 lakh rural citizens for MyGov, digital locker, Aadhaar and other digital services
  6. Also to educate rural people, especially the youth, about the various Digital India Initiatives
  7. Facility: Rural citizens will be informed about the services offered at CSC centres in 14 languages

Digital India Initiatives

A digital wallet for all your e-spends

  1. News: National Payments Corporation of India has developed Unified Payments Interface, which makes the existing mobile based money transfer simpler
  2. Features: Money transfer is possible in both send mode and collect mode, as compared to present system of mobile payments which offers only send mode
  3. Impact: It would end the need to have different wallets for different e-commerce sites
  4. Statistics: There are about 35-36 wallets in the payments system, which the banking regulator has approved
  5. Future: These wallets will have to recreate themselves with some novel feature
  1. News: National Payments Corporation of India has developed Unified Payments Interface, which makes the existing mobile based money transfer simpler
  2. Features: Money transfer is possible in both send mode and collect mode, as compared to present system of mobile payments which offers only send mode
  3. Impact: It would end the need to have different wallets for different e-commerce sites
  4. Statistics: There are about 35-36 wallets in the payments system, which the banking regulator has approved
  5. Future: These wallets will have to recreate themselves with some novel feature

Digital India Initiatives

Cisco to lay 22,500-km long Internet fiber network in Andhra Pradesh

  1. Context: Digital India initiative aims to connect 250,000 gram panchayats with high speed Internet by 2017
  2. News: Cisco will design and implement a broadband project in Andhra Pradesh
  3. The project includes laying 22,500-km-long broadband network which will cover 2 million households
  4. Achievement: With the fiber optic rollout, AP becomes the first Indian state to bring all its households online
  5. Positive: The project cost came significantly down as govt. opted for aerial fiber network
  1. Context: Digital India initiative aims to connect 250,000 gram panchayats with high speed Internet by 2017
  2. News: Cisco will design and implement a broadband project in Andhra Pradesh
  3. The project includes laying 22,500-km-long broadband network which will cover 2 million households
  4. Achievement: With the fiber optic rollout, AP becomes the first Indian state to bring all its households online
  5. Positive: The project cost came significantly down as govt. opted for aerial fiber network

Digital India Initiatives

Optical fibre cable push misses target

  1. Target: connecting 150,000 village councils by the end of 2015
  2. Achievement: OFCs have been laid in about 32,000 gram panchayats across the country till November 2015
  3. Good progress: As compared to last year, the progress is quite good
  4. Momentum: While the project is still 80% behind schedule, there seems to be momentum building
  1. Target: connecting 150,000 village councils by the end of 2015
  2. Achievement: OFCs have been laid in about 32,000 gram panchayats across the country till November 2015
  3. Good progress: As compared to last year, the progress is quite good
  4. Momentum: While the project is still 80% behind schedule, there seems to be momentum building

Digital India Initiatives

Students to take digital literacy to the masses

  1. News: Statewide Digital Empowerment Campaign is all set to be rolled out
  2. Context: Seeks to bridge the digital divide and maximise the potential of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in day-to-day life
  3. Aim : Making people capable of using e-mail, accessing online government services, online utility payments and bank transfers
  4. Student police cadets: Students from 280 schools in 14 districts of Kerala enlisted for campaign, expected to help 3 million people in State
  5. Equipments: Tablets preloaded with special software to train, monitoring will be done by training process on real time basis using the software
  6. Nodal agency: Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM)
  7. Way ahead: President is expected to declare Kerala a ‘Digital State’ on the strength of its digital infrastructure and e-governance initiatives
  1. News: Statewide Digital Empowerment Campaign is all set to be rolled out
  2. Context: Seeks to bridge the digital divide and maximise the potential of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in day-to-day life
  3. Aim : Making people capable of using e-mail, accessing online government services, online utility payments and bank transfers
  4. Student police cadets: Students from 280 schools in 14 districts of Kerala enlisted for campaign, expected to help 3 million people in State
  5. Equipments: Tablets preloaded with special software to train, monitoring will be done by training process on real time basis using the software
  6. Nodal agency: Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM)
  7. Way ahead: President is expected to declare Kerala a ‘Digital State’ on the strength of its digital infrastructure and e-governance initiatives

Digital India Initiatives

Fibre grid: Centre to replicate AP model

  1. Context: Improving Internet connectivity in the country as part of the Digital India programme
  2. Background: In order to develop fibre grid, the Andhra Pradesh govt connected cables to electric poles to reduce the project cost from Rs.5,000 crore to Rs. 320 crore
  3. News: Centre will replicate this model in other parts of country to improve internet connectivity
  4. Future: The govt had set a target to increase the number of internet users from 40 crore to 50 crore by 2017
  1. Context: Improving Internet connectivity in the country as part of the Digital India program