Education, health, jobs are the keys to new digital India

By Surabhi Agarwal & Mugdha Variyar

New Delhi : The Modi government’s Digital India project is set to be unveiled in a new avatar, with the ambitious programme set to become more targeted and focused on some key features, which may also see regulators being set up for some of the initiatives, according to three sources aware of ministerial discussions.

Aruna Sundararajan, secretary ministry of electronics and IT, also indicated that the project is being made more focused on a few stack of services to have better societal impact. According to one of the sources, the IT secretary had conducted an internal assessment of the Digital India programme in collaboration with one of the big four consultancy firms recently , and the assessment showed that many aspects of Digital India were not being implemented in full capacity and that more focus was needed on a few important features such as the Bharat Net.

Sundararajan said the programme will move to focus on better impact in areas such as job creation, health and education. “One thing that is clear is, a robust platform has been built under Digital India with the Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and mobile services (JAM) trinity . The idea now is that from there how do we move on the next stack of services and focus on one, job creation; two, on using emerging technologies and integrating it with key services such as health, education; and the third, to focus on creating large platform, which unlocks value for everyone,” she said.

An IT consultant who is aware of the proposal said the new version of the project will also look at ways to align it with the national fibre optic network (Bharat Net) and the digital payment infrastructure.

“For instance, at a fair-price shop, the authentication is digital but the payment transaction is not digital, so similarly there are many holes in the whole thing. The idea is to have a better synergy and also integration of services such as health and education, etc,” the consultant said.

According to one of the sources, another key focus will be to position the Digital Locker not just as a storage platform but as a document exchange network. Another one of the Digital India initiatives -the Integrated Health Information System (IHIP), which is meant to create electronic health records (EHRs) -is also likely to see a revamp, with a regulator likely to be set up for it.

The Digital India programme has won the Modi government plaudits for pushing India towards a more digital and formalised economy , while enabling e-governance and participatory policy-making through the `’, and also creating a mass-market payment platform through the unified payment interface. However, several concerns have been raised about the Aadhaar programme related to privacy issues and information security following its linkage to several key services.


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