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From Grassroots to Global Impact – How Digital India Fared in Five Years

Digital India completed five years

has been five years, and there are many stories to be cherished that emerged during this journey. If you want to look at this journey from the grassroots’ perspective, the growth of Common Service Centres, and Bharat Net may offer you wonderful insights. The sheer growth of mobile phone and internet usage in the recent years, the growth of a start-up ecosystem, the increasing volume of software service exports all together will tell you how Digital India is lighting up the lives of the youth. While Aadhaar tells you how Digital India can transform the lives of all Indians, including the one who are at the bottom of pyramid, the story of UPI may tell you about the global reckoning of India.

Let’s relish some of the milestones that Digital India has achieved in the last five years.

Cell-phones and Internet Usage

Government may have any number of digital initiatives in governance, but if the internet usage itself is low, then all such programmes lack a reach. In the recent years, India has ensured that both the cell phone and internet penetration saw a remarkable growth. The numbers below tell you the story.

Aadhaar- Digital Identity to Every Indian

Post-2014, the Aadhaar framework has been revamped. Backed by the law made by the Parliament, it provides its citizen a biometric digital identity with secure data.

Aadhaar has greatly helped in plugging the leak of government resources, as it is used in Direct Benefit Transfer of subsidy to poor. More than 87 crore bank accounts are linked with Aadhaar, bringing transparency.

Digital Infrastructure for Finance -UPI

Unified Payment Interface (UPI) is a major success story in the campaign of Digital India. In October 2019, it crossed 1 billion successful transactions.

In August 2019, the U.S Federal Reserve proposed to develop a payment system that would work 24X7 and invited suggestions from relevant stakeholders on what the design and features of that payments service should look like.

In response, Google’s Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Policy Mark Isakowitz wrote to the Federal Reserve that they should follow the successful model of the UPI based digital system built in India. He added that UPI was thoughtfully planned, and critical aspects of its design led to its success.

Global Reckoning of The RuPay Card

It is the first of its kind global card payment network. Nearly 60 crore cards issued by some 1,100 banks make RuPay a card to reckon at the global level.

The glorious journey of RuPay card is well-documented in our earlier article India’s Own RuPay Card Disrupts the Global Payment Network – Breaking the Hegemony.

Easing Common People- Bharat Bill Payment System, DigiLocker, Jeevan Pramaan

BBPS gives significant ease for making all kind of recurring payments such as electricity, gas, post-paid telecom, loan repayment, FASTag recharge, metro recharge etc. digitally. It has also seen a growing number of transactions.

DigiLocker started in 2015 enables citizens to securely store and share their documents with service providers who can access them digitally. The register users have grown from 12 lakh in 2015-16 to 3.9 crore in May 2020.

Similarly, Jeevan Pramaan, the Aadhaar based biometric authentication system to pensioners which mitigates the need of pensioners to be present in person before the authority, has eased the life of elderly people. Since 2014, 3.55 crore digital certificates have been submitted.

Digital Way for Jobs & Entrepreneurship

The Digital India push has been helpful in giving an opportunity of job and entrepreneurship at different levels. If you want to see how it is working at the grassroots level, Common Service Centres provide you a good example. Ever since the Digital India drive has been initiated, CSCs which were 83,000 in 2014 have increased to 3.65 lakh in April 2020.

By offering service like voter ID card, online ticket booking, banking services etc, CSCs have created 12 lakh direct and indirect jobs at villages and small towns. 38,000 women Village Level Entrepreneurs are working in CSCs.

If you want to have a glance at how Digital India helped urban areas in this aspect, the growing number of digital start-ups may give you an insight. With 9,300 tech start-ups and 27 tech unicorns, India is the 3rd largest start-up eco-system.

The growth in e-commerce in recent years may provide you a perspective.

These are some highlights of the accomplishments of Digital India. But it has touched the lives of Indians in many more ways. For example, more than 8 crore farmers have received their instalment of PM Kisan for the period of April 1 to July 31, 2020 through a digital transaction. PM e-VIDYA is unifying all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education, which is crucial in the current times of social distancing. 10,331 facilitation centres across the nation are providing digital skills. My Gov with 1.19 crore registered users has become an example of digital democracy platform. The recent initiative like Arogya Setu app has proved an important instrument in fighting the pandemic.

Clearly, Digital India story is evolving with new sparks, holding new promises to the future.