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Not long ago, the Narendra Modi-government announced its ambitious Digital India programme, which aims to transform the country into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge-based economy.
The Digital India initiative envisions digitization of the country, to deliver citizen-centric services electronically and works in improving the way citizens and authorities interact with each other.
The programme is an exemplary initiative by the government to kick-start the new era of digital empowerment.
There is much to be done, from the creation of smart cities to bolstering internet connectivity, taking it to the remotest villages of the country.
Various sectors, including education, healthcare, agriculture, and manufacturing are also awaiting reforms.
India is besieged with low productivity of public services and is plagued with high leakages. While we arrived in the 21st century long time ago, severe maladies like corruption and poor accountability continue to haunt us.
The government is trying its bit to improve connectivity and provide internet services, it still leaves a lot of space for other agencies to come and provide a lending hand.
When things take a pilgrimage from tangibility to intangibility, there come different villainous forces, which need to be tackled with toughness. Developed nations are suffering from the might of incognito cyber threats and India will not be any exception as it slowly increases its headcount in the world of internet. Hence, the need for strong digital security solutions becomes paramount.
Enter ‘Tech Entrepreneurs’
To overcome these challenges as well as turning the concept of the Digital India into reality, the government is investing huge money, but it’s hard to implement such massive transformation projects without the participation of private companies, particularly tech entrepreneurs.
While the problems remain huge, they also bring with it a wonderful opportunity to completely disrupt the status quo and bump the productivity exponentially.
In this context, technology spans a range of areas — process digitization, e-governance, mobility-first focus, Internet of Things (IoT), analytics, robotics and alternative media channels — for improved two-way communication.
Governments alone do not have all the resources to provide the required infrastructure and facilities to their citizens.
Tech entrepreneurs’ participation brings efficiency and through their engagement, the government can bring in its resources and provide the much-needed sustainability and scalability.
Tech entrepreneurs must play an immense role in digitizing India. The major information and communications technology (ICT) initiatives of the government included some major projects such as railway computerization, land record computerization, etc. which focused mainly on the development of information systems.
E-governance and eKranti are two major areas where tech entrepreneurs can contribute their world-class skills. Their expertise in developing solutions can come handy in implementing various IT projects under the umbrella of Digital India program.
Smart technologies can add an edge to managing the modern cities, which are ridden by drainage, water, pollution and population issues. Sensor networks and analytics can combine to provide information about water usage, traffic patterns, accidents, fires, air quality, security & surveillance and so on.
This can be used even to improve education and healthcare or to prevent crime. Over the years, smart technologies can make one big difference to how a modern city operates and how basic infrastructure facilities are delivered to the citizens.
It will give us a data-centric view of the layout and working pattern of our cities which will be crucial to deal with most of the civic issues.
The state and national governments have realized the value tech entrepreneurs bring. Several states and cities have already begun collaborating with tech entrepreneurs to develop digital infrastructure and services.
For instance, the Bengaluru Police recently launched kiosk-based locations to enable citizens to file FIRs without visiting the police station.
Many ofthe states police developed ‘e-challan’ and automatic traffic monitoring systems jointly with the IT providers and telecom service providers.
Some of the other projects enabled by government-tech entrepreneur partnership in India, include the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) whereby the government hopes to extend affordable citizen services to all Indians, including those in distant villages.
Through the NeGP, the government is making significant investments for automation of land records, taxes, driving licenses, and passports. Tech entrepreneurs’ involvement in the NeGP includes creating infrastructure, delivering services in the form of mission mode projects and creating awareness.
Neither the government itself nor any IT company can bring in the much-needed transformation alone. There is a huge opportunity for the IT industry to partner with the government in the Digital India program, to help transform the life experiences of 1.3 billion Indians.Overall, the government should look at technology as a transformation enabler, not an incremental addition to the ecosystem.
This will improve not only the productivity of services but also the better use of scarce tax money and government resources.India is at the cusp of a range of changes, and tech entrepreneurs with their advanced technology solutions can propel the country in the right direction at a faster pace.