Digital India Transcends NeGP : Dr Rajendra Kumar

Dr Rajendra Kumar

The aim of Digital India programme is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The scope and vision of Digital India is much higher than the NeGP, says Dr Rajendra Kumar in an exclusive tete-a-tete with eGov Editor-in-Chief Ravi Gupta and ENN’s Gautam Debroy

What are the key components of Digital India?

Digital India programme has been formulated to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The programme is to be implemented by the entire government with DeitY playing the coordinating role. The vision of Digital India is centred on three key areas, namely digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, Governance and Services on Demand and Digital Empowerment of Citizens. Each area has separate components to achieve the overall vision of the Digital India programme. The programme covers nine pillars of growth areas namely Broadband Highways, Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity, Electronics Manufacturing, e-Governance: Reforming Government through Technology, Public Internet Access Programme – National Rural Internet Mission, e-Kranti – Electronic Delivery of Services, IT for Jobs, Information for All and Early Harvest Projects.

How does the present National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is different from the earlier initiatives?

NeGP was focused on e-Governance and one of its main goals was to create and provide core ICT infrastructure to all government departments to enable them in the delivery of e-Governance services. Digital India goes much beyond that. It aims at transformation of the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy through application of ICTs. The three key vision areas include digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen, providing governance and services on demand and digital empowerment of citizens. The scope and vision of Digital India is much wider and higher than the NeGP.

How do you see the prospect of e-Governance in the last one decade and what could be its future ahead?

The overall framework in India for e-Governance has been the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) which was approved in 2006. For the last eight years of its implementation, 24 out of  the 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) are live and operational and are delivering services.

In terms of number of transactions being delivered through these projects, over 11.5 crore transactions are being delivered every month through these MMPs. Out of the 253 planned services, 222 are operational.

In terms of going forward, we intend to bring e-Kranti orNeGP 2.0, which is also a part of the Digital India programme. The vision under e-Kranti is to expand the portfolio of Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) by bringing more government departments under the e-Kranti programme, ensure comprehensive Government Process Reengineering (GPR), leverage latest technologies, such as the cloud and mobile platforms, and ensure integration of services and compliance with standards and interoperability. We also propose to provide core ICT infra such as network connectivity and cloud platform to the government departments on demand, so that they don’t have to create separate infrastructure of their own.

What is the significance of the new MMPs?

The new proposed Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) would cover more citizen-centric areas for service delivery. As mentioned before, eKranti proposes to leverage latest technologies such as the cloud and mobile platforms for all the MMPs. Some of the new domains proposed to be covered include financial services, social justice, women and child development among others. The MMPs are aimed at bringing the best citizen centric services.

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Did you make any assessment or study on the impact of NeGP projects?

Impact assessment module is a key component of the NeGP framework. We have done assessment of several e-governance projects. Most recently we assessed our CSC scheme through the Centre for Innovation in Public Systems in Hyderabad. The study has revealed that CSCs are functioning well on the whole though there is scope for improvement in making them financially sustainable. The study revealed that the CSCs which are run by the women are relatively more successful. Similarly, CSCs which have good connectivity and provide good educational courses perform better. We have proposed to increase the number of CSCs to 2.5 lakhs, i.e. one CSC per Panchayat in the country.

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Many of the MMPs are not doing well. Are you thinking to look into the functioning of those MMPs?

As I mentioned, most of the MMPs under the NeGP are live and delivering services. e-Kranti or NeGP 2.0 also aims at ensuring that current MMPs also undertake government process reengineering to take full advantage of e-governance and deliver citizen services more efficiently and effectively. It also aims at ensuring that they leverage the latest technologies such as the cloud and the mobile platforms.

Tell us about NII framework.

The National Information Infrastructure (NII) aims at providing the cloud and network infrastructure on demand to all government departments and agencies in the country. It will leverage the National Knowledge Network (NKN) and the National Optical Fibre Network (NOFN) to provide connectivity to government departments and agencies up to panchayat level. It will also leverage the Meghraj cloud platform to provide cloud based services.

“In the last eight years of its implementation, out of 31 projects, 24 are live and operational and are delivering services. The number of transactions being delivered through these projects stand at 11.5 crore per month. And, out of 253 planned services, 222 are being delivered”

How does the Digital India framework look into the G2G and other businesses? And what is the open data initiative?

Digital India programme aims to cover G2G, G2B and G2C services. In G2G domain, applications like e-Office can be effectively deployed to handle both intra-office and inter-office communications.

Open Data is a key element of the e-Governance framework. It aims at providing the relevant data sets from the government in public domain. The government has notified the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP) that guides the provisioning of data sets in public domain through the Open Data platform created by DeitY.

What is the role of Aadhaar in the entire framework?

Aadhaar is a key element in the entire service delivery framework for unique identification and authentication of beneficiaries or service seekers. When Aadhaar is integrated within the service delivery mechanism of any service, then the entire authentication process can be done completely online. It will greatly facilitate completely end-to-end online delivery of services through both web and mobile platforms.