The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to herald a broadband revolution through its ambitious Digital India initiative aimed at providing government services online to citizens nationwide by 2019. It may be setting its sights too high.
In addition to introducing e-governance and e-services on a massive scale, the program seeks to bring about broadband connectivity in 250,000 villages, universal phone connectivity, 400,000 public Internet access points, Wi-Fi in 250,000 schools and universities, and public Wi-Fi hot spots for citizens. The program is expected to directly create 17 million jobs and indirectly create 85 million jobs.
Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and group CEO of IT advisory Greyhound Research, said rural connectivity is central to the success of the Digital India program. With the absence of proper broadband and Internet connectivity, rural India falls behind when it comes to access to basic services such as mobile and net banking, which are imperative for financial inclusion, the analyst said.
“Indian towns and villages are at the helm of accepting digital transformation,” he told the Nikkei Asian Review. “However, only 15% of India has access to basic Internet. It is time-critical that rural India gets access to high-speed Internet facilities to enhance their state of living.”
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