India has grown by 8.57 million mobile network subscribers in the last one year, which clearly shows that the country is going digital. This increase has also been because of a huge increase in the number of mobile phone users in the rural areas of India. It has seen an increase of 5.5 million users in just one year. This has accounted to more than 943 million subscriptions across the country.
In spite of such a huge growth there is a major concern that was talked about in this year’s Digital India Summit 2015, held in Delhi. According to this, though there are 255 million internet users only a very small percentage belongs to 3G user group. This also points out the meagre number of internet users’ penetration in the country, which is almost 27% of the total mobile subscribers. This has raised eyebrows over the country’s infrastructure, as far as providing internet or other value added services are concerned.
Let us take a look at few of the initiatives which were part of the discussion at the Digital India Summit 2015:
- Public Internet Access Program: Government has planned to expand the coverage of the Common Services Centres (CSC) to enable seamless internet usage in the rural areas which, has been accepted as an important aspect to encourage education, entrepreneurship and to improve communication.
- Establish internet as an enabler of services: Government now aims to provide essential services to the last mile locations of the country through internet enabled services which may include important services such as teaching, skill development and elevating the overall living conditions of the bottom of the pyramid.
- Innovation in providing connectivity: It is being looked into deeply to use innovative technology which can provide a mix of accessibility through different devices.
But, expanding the internet accessibility in the country would also require a huge investment in the security of all these services providing hardware establishments. This expansion can open numerous loopholes in the network which can become a cancer to the already ailing condition to fight cyber- crime and terrorism in the country.
Security concerns become more evident as social media and the entire e-commerce space move towards the digital wallet space. India being home to few of the most successful e-commerce start-ups in the world such as Flipkart, Myntra, Paytm, Ola and others, it is expected that by the end of 2015, total number of users making online transactions in India will cross 40 million. Yet, there are people who do not have complete faith on the online transaction space. The concept of digital wallet, because of the intensity of fraud it is attached to, the government will also have to ensure better fraud management and needs to carve out better laws to curb the drawbacks of going digital in monetary transactions.
The greater picture that awaits and can become the future of Indian government is e-governance, which aims to launch many services such as court trials and visa processes on internet making it more accessible, cost effective and transparent. This would only be possible with greater participation and cooperation by the citizens because the above mentioned facilities require huge investments, implementing new laws, amending the old ones and changes in the digital network structure in different parts of the country.