digital india

KOLKATA: Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that Digital India will be a $1 trillion business opportunity, combining the requirements of the telecoms, IT/ITeS and electronics manufacturing sectors. India’s demographic dividend, he said, is accelerating the ‘Digital India’ drive since a whopping 65% of the country’s 1.25 billion-strong population is in the age group of 35 years and below. Prasad was speaking at the annual India 2016 conference organised by┬áHarvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School in the city recently.

The Modi government, he said, is building a robust broadband infrastructure for digital delivery of services, including e-education and ehealth, with the rapid rollout of a countrywide optical fibre cable network that will “connect all gram panchayats” or village blocks.

According to him, the recent finalisation of long pending telecom policy issues such as spectrum trading/sharing, harmonisation coupled with the preference to open source IT applications would also work towards the creation of such digital services delivery infrastructure. The ambitious ‘Digital India’ initiative, he said, “is designed to bridge the digital divide and empower citizens, more particularly the poor and deprived, to seek new opportunities in their life”.

Prasad said the ecommerce space is also growing at 67% in India and its biggest catchment area is rural and semi-urban. “The vast network of our postal services are being used for delivery of ecommerce goods, which has led to an enormous increase in our parcel revenue,” said Prasad.

The telecom minister said the ongoing digitisation of the postal department, the increasing role of common service centres and the upcoming scheme of stepping up BPO or ‘business process outsourcing’ activity in the rural areas are “all designed to create the digital platform, which will propel Digital India”. According to Prasad, since “subsidies are being directly delivered into the bank accounts of the poor using their digital identity, the number of spurious claimants had sharply come down”.