NITI Aayog calls for fresh reforms to efficiently utilize India's digital potential
Unleashing the full force of India's digital potential would require overcoming constraints in broadband connectivity, digital access and literacy, while strengthening the cybersecurity framework that is currently "inadequate", according to NITI Aayog.
The 'Strategy for New India @ 75' document released by the government think-tank Wednesday underlines the relevance of digital infrastructure to economic growth, and need to eliminate the digital divide by 2022-23.
India should aim to achieve physical digital connectivity across all states, districts and gram panchayats, delivery of government services digitally by 2022-23, and hundred per cent basic digital literacy across the country in order to leverage benefits of digitisation, the report said.
Citing an estimate, the document said that about 27 per cent of India's population (355 million users) uses the internet, and while this is an exponential growth over the 2009-levels, "there is scope for improvement".
"With the increasing role of technology in our daily lives and the growing significance of Industry 4.0, India can only unlock its true potential once digital connectivity, the basic building block for most technological solutions, reaches the last mile," it said.
It further said that the Ministry of Electronics and IT would need to evolve a comprehensive cybersecurity framework for data security, safe digital transactions and complaint redressal. The national e-governance unit of the ministry should periodically audit compliance of e-services offered by state governments, and bring out a performance report with a view to improving service delivery, it added.
The "constraints" that need to be addressed to unleash the full benefits of digital infrastructure are in areas of broadband connectivity, digital access and literacy and lack of content in Indian languages, it said.
It also pointed to a large number of e-services not available on the digital platform and the wide variation across states in the availability of citizen e-services. "The regulatory framework for cybersecurity is inadequate...Hacking and denial-of-service attacks have led to the disruption of services, both in the government and the private sector - banks and governments increasingly face security breaches," said the NITI Aayog document.
The document notes that adequate spectrum availability is "critical" to ensuring service quality. Existing networks have been strained by limited spectrum availability and usage, affecting the provision of quality services, it observed.
"Efficient spectrum allocation in large contiguous blocks should be explored. We should also explore migration to new technologies which would resolve some of the bandwidth challenges," it said.
Internet access is "plagued" by issues related to quality and reliability, outages, call drops and weak signals and current definition of broadband of 512 kbps speed is inadequate and not in line with the expected rise in demand in the future, it noted.
Sector regulator TRAI should also consider putting in place a "credible system" to track call drops, weak signals and outages to ensure the quality and reliability of telecom services. "The results may be put in the public domain. The government should also put in place telecom ombudsman for complaint redressal," it said.
It called on various ministries and states to play a pivotal role in ensuring that all their services are available and easily accessible by citizens over digital platforms.
(With inputs from agencies.)