Government aims to create digitally-empowered India

RS Prasad

With the focus on Digital India, the Indian government seeks to not only create a digital enabled society, but also a digitally- empowered and enlightened India.  Emphasising on increasing digital outreach in India, Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad  said that the government values internet as an innovative medium and the focus is on making the internet as an inclusive platform and it must not be allowed to ​be ​abuse​d​ by ​a ​few.

Highlighting the government’s accomplishment, Mr Prasad said that the NDA government has connected 20494 post offices under core banking solution compared to 16333 enabled core banking branches of State Bank of India (SBI). “I pushed my postal service to go digital, because postal service digitisation is integral to digital India. The first thing we pushed was core banking solution, which means banking from anywhere. We have 25,000 district and sub-post offices that needed to be digitised. When I had become Minister only 230 post offices had core banking. Today, 20494 post offices have come under core banking solution and we will complete the remaining by April this year,” Mr Prasad said at the Digital India Summit on March 22.

Speaking about financial inclusion and empowerment, Mr Prasad said that the number of ATMs in post offices has increased from 4 when the NDA government took over in 2014 to 850 at present and by April the number is expected to rise to 1000. He also said that the government will bring the payment bank of the postal department by March 2017. Mr Prasad said India is fast adopting technology and the country is likely to have half a billion Internet users by the end of this year. Appreciating India’s adaptability to changing technologies, Mr Prasad added that it is fast adopting technology and the country is likely to have half a billion Internet users by the end of this year.

“It took 2.5-3 years for Internet users to go from 200 to 300 million. It has taken a year to reach 400 million and when Internet service providers said we have reached 400 million, I was really surprised. I think the target of 500 million by 2017… maybe this will come by this year-end,” Mr Prasad said.

Emphasising on creating job opportunities through digital empowerment, Mr Prasad said that the government is taking BPOs to small towns and rural areas to create job opportunities. “We have come out with a BPO scheme for India’s small towns as the digital profile of the country is limited to urban cities like Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad among others,” he said.

Focusing on the progress made by the government, Mr Prasad said that only 398 km of optical fiber cables were laid in Indian villages before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government came into power. “Now more than 1 lakh km of OFC is laid, touching more than 50,000 village panchayats,” Mr Prasad said.

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