Digital India project of Narendra Modi Government is yet to take off as right now it is just on books and is part of political rhetoric only. Actual Digital India implementation is still missing even in May 2019. However, the objectives and components of Digital India are very promising and can make India a Global Leader for Digital Economy. What is required is removal of bureaucratic hurdles and development of political will to actually implement various projects under Digital India.
One of such projects is Digital Village project. We are not talking about the political jargon that is often found in the media where a village is adopted and declared as a digital village. We all know the condition of such adopted digital villages in India. They are in ruin and they have nothing digital about them. This has happened as Indian Government was more interested in brownie points that actual growth and development of India. For the past 5 years, Modi Government has failed on all fronts of economic development.
Let ByGones BeGone and let us focus upon coming 5 years that can be used by Modi Government to transform India into a Digital Economy. We at AFPOH are very much interested in rural empowerment, farmers’ empowerment and empowerment of rural communities. Thus, when we read about Digital Village project of Modi Government, we were excited to hear about it.
We were excited because it is not just a political jargon but it has elements that if actually implemented can make Digital Village a wonderful project. For instance, Digital Village initiative would utilise broadband connectivity provided through BharatNet for providing health and financial services, skill development programmes and education to villagers across the country. BharatNet is an existing infrastructure and so is common service centres (CSCs) that would provide low-cost WiFi connectivity to all villagers to facilitate a service delivery ecosystem. To start with, the Government hopes to provide services in over 700 villages—one in each district of the country—within the first three years, before extending it across the country. So Government’s proposal makes some sense as it is not a political rhetoric.
Now the only concern pertains to actual implementation of Digital Village project. The first key offering under the project would be a platform for different educational courses through collaboration with the National Institute for Electronics and IT (NIELIT) and Tally Solutions, leading enterprise resource planning (ERP) software provider. In health services, the focus would be on providing primary care to citizens and cattle in the villages. In primary care services, patients can avail doctors’ advice on non-emergency medical problems that do not require doctor’s location visit through tele-consultation, where the consultation would take place through video conferencing. Government is also looking forward to arrange a system through which the villagers can avail the consultation of an expert veterinarian from the centralised location for their cattle. Under skill services to be imparted across the villages under Digital Village platform, common service centres would primarily focus on skills pertaining to automotive service technician, handset repair engineering, field technician for home appliances and electrical technician. As far as the financial services are concerned, the idea will be to provide access to useful and affordable financial products and services to each individual of the villages by creating awareness through the financial awareness inclusion programme. While Government would try and deliver these services, it would also look at more eco- friendly and sustainable energy resources such as powering streetlights through solar panels. So the implementation plan for Digital Village is good, at least on paper and till now.
This a a very ambitious and expertise oriented project and AFPOH is committed to extend its Techno Legal expertise for Digital Village project. We wish all the best to Modi Government in this regard and we are optimistic that Digital Village project would be a big hit.