Digital India Gets $70 Billion Push, But Infrastructure Challenges Remain

Thursday, July 02, 2015
PM Narendra Modi at the launch function with Information & Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (right) (photo: PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India Digital Week on Wednesday, to boost e-governance, strengthen the country’s digital infrastructure and reduce electronics imports by 2020.

"I dream of a digital India where high-speed digital highways unite the nation; 1.2 billion connected Indians drive innovation; technology ensures the citizen-government interface is incorruptible," Modi said.

The government initiative is aimed at bridging India's digital divide, bringing in large investments in technology manufacturing.

Indian companies have already pledged Rs. 4.5 trillion ($70 billion). Key investors include the Ambani brothers, Tata group chief Cyrus Mistry and Wipro head Azim Premji.

India's richest man Mukesh Ambani pledged the biggest investment, saying he planned to invest Rs. 2.5 trillion ($39 billion) through his Reliance Industries.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, announced $7 billion to fund network rollouts and other projects, the AFP news agency reported.

Companies also pledged to manufacture in India, estimated to add 1.8 million jobs to the economy.

According to Hindustan Times, Modi also announced a range of digital programmes – digital lockers to store documents, e-Sign using Aadhaar, e-Hospital systems, National Scholarship Portal, Centre of Excellence on Internet on Things (IoT) and a high-speed digital highway – that aims to make government services more efficient, easily accessible and hassle-free.

However, the country will have to overcome a number of challenges before it can achieve its ambitions, including the lack of spectrum for commercial use, duty anomalies, and electricity shortages.

- Karan Singh

To Learn More:

Industry throws its weight, money behind push for Digital India (Hindustan Times)

Digital India: Business leaders pledge $70bn (BBC News)

Industry hails 'Digital India' move, top CEOs commit to invest Rs 4.5 trillion (Economic Times)

Digital India: Government, India Inc log in for ‘digital push’ to governance, new jobs (Indian Express)

Digital India is grand, ambitious and aspirational but doesn't come without challenges (by Rajesh Pandathil, Firstpost)


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