The Digital India Mission, launched in 2015 by the central government, has become India’s global centrepiece.
CNBC-TV18 and Google joined hands to celebrate the last five years of this Mission, with top government and corporate leaders laying down the roadmap for next five years.
Policymakers who graced the celebration were Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister of Communications, Electronics and IT and Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog.
Joining them were Google stalwarts, Caesar Sengupta, Vice President-Payments & Next Billion Users, Google and Sanjay Gupta, Country Head and Vice President, Google India, both of whom said that India had become the nucleus of Google’s programme worldwide, thanks to government’s digital governance.
Hailing the digital transformation and empowerment, Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that in the last five years, India’s digital profile has expanded significantly with close to 1.20 billion mobile phones, nearly 7 billion smart phones, 640 million internet users and 1.2 billion Aadhar digital I-Cards.
400 million bank accounts of the poor, linked with Aadhar, have helped to confirm their digital identity, reinforced by the mobile. "We started sending welfare measures directly to the bank account of the poor, direct benefit transfer or DBT, and we send close to Rs 100 lakh crore, more than $123 billion to the bank accounts of the poor, saving Rs 1.70,000 crore approximately, which used to be pocketed by middlemen and suspicious claimants", he said.
INDIA WORLD’S FASTEST DIGITALISER
Niti Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant, said that India is digitalising faster than any country in the world. “With over 600 million connections, India has become the largest consumer of broadband in the world. 500 million Indians are now using smartphones, which means over 77% of Indians are now accessing wireless broadband through smartphones. India is the world’s highest user of smartphone data with an average of 9.8 GB data per month,” he pointed out.
NEXT BILLION USERS
Caesar Sengupta, Vice President - Payments & Next Billion Users, Google, said that the future of the internet is in the hands of the next billion users and India, thanks to government empowerment, is at the centre of that change.
The efforts to make Android available for so many more people at a lower cost and of high quality, was an effort in that direction.
Highlighting the significance, Sanjay Gupta, Country Head and Vice President, Google India, said that people in India come from different strata and there is need to get internet connectivity at a much lower cost. “The one big idea would be to provide access at affordable rates. They look for information, which would be unique and different because the kind of thing they are engaged in. People in urban areas need different information, but in a rural set up, people are more interested about agricultural information,” he explained.
Sanjay said that thanks to Digital India, India was at the forefront of the tech innovation. “The one big learning we have is this: you solve for India and you solve for the world. The users are demanding. Look at Google Pay. We had designed and developed the app for India, now we have rolled it out globally. Or take the example of Google Bolo, which we introduced to teach a language to the kids. Fundamentally, we launched it in India in many languages. Today, more than 3 million kids are using it over 28,000 villages downloading more than 28 million stories. As it developed, we realised this could be taken out globally. India is giving us the chance to innovate globally,” he said.
EDUCATION BIG INTEREST AREA
Education remains a big interest area for Google, who are in partnership with CBSE, where the company is enabling around a million teachers to go digital to teach from home.
With Digital India initiatives panning out exponentially, Google has announced a big initiative with the Maharashtra government where 2.4 crore children in the state will imbibe hybrid learning by using the power of apps like Google Classroom and Google Bolo.
According to Caesar Sengupta, one of the big segments that is coming up in India is vernacular usage and the fact is that the next billion users prefer video voice as a format with which to engage.
With rapid digitalisation in the last five years, Google’s big focus is trying to figure out the right information to give to users, enabling them to use voice and video and put into motion plans about how best it could be translated to education and other services.
This fits in with Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s statement that Digital India is promoting good governance and its programmes are very transformative in nature.
To watch the entire discussion visit https://www.moneycontrol.com/msite/google-digital-india-vision/This is a partnered post.