Digital India – Futuristic vision for an effective backward integration

There’s a new ‘start-up’ in town. And it’s the “big-brother” of all start-ups. Its scale is so vast and its vision so broad that the digital world big daddy, themselves a start-up at one time, are giving it a standing ovation. Modi Government’s ‘Digital India Initiative’ has the world IT czars up and applauding this futuristic vision.

With ‘Digital India,’ the government is envisioning multi-pronged benefits. Much has been written about them in detail. How it will contribute to education, health, information and communication. How it will generate more employment too. But as an ordinary Indian citizen who struggles to get the tiniest bit of movement from the gazetted officers and babus, there is one aspect of Digital India that excites me.

One of the main thrusts of the Digital India initiative is to provide and strengthen e-governance across sectors and services. E-governance will ensure easy access to and smooth delivery of government services to the citizens. Touts and middlemen plague too many of our government offices which in turn make them hubs of corruption and collusion. E-services will simply be the death knell for such middlemen. Case in the point is the success of e-application for passports, e-filing of taxes and automatic subsidy transfer. These e-services have made interaction with the respective departments much easier and systematic.

With wider e-services, the government is also looking to streamline its own and its officers’ working and modus operandi. Here is a government that is devising new and perhaps more efficient ways of being accountable to whom they serve. E-services would immediately bring all service providers under a relentless scanner that can provide useful and implementable directives for performance evaluation and reward. Could this then be the beginning of the end of rampant corruption in government ranks?

Many might argue that a country that is still struggling to provide basic amenities to all its citizens should focus on just that. But haven’t we been doing just that since independence. Perhaps this kind of futuristic vision, planning and backward integration will help us achieve what grassroots level focus has not!