Skip to main content

'Digital India' - A Good Scheme or a Scam?

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched a popular scheme known as Digital India on 1st July, 2015, a year into his term. It was started with the intention to improve digital infrastructure, deliver government services and universal digital literacy. Mr. Modi envisioned that in the near future almost everybody in India would possess a smart phone and could use it to seek redress. His thoughts were not wrong. Almost everyone possesses a minimum of one smart phone with an Internet Connection (thank you Jio!).
As usual, when the scheme was launched, everyone praised it. BJP Bhakts believed that Modi was transforming India and bringing it at par with technologically and administratively advanced countries like Singapore. However, almost three years later how is this program faring?
Image result for narendra modi digital india
Source

While on the face of it, a common man may think that Digital India is a success, and they are not wrong. However, as most Government projects are, this one too is only superficially successful. For any grievance that we face, a simple download of an app is said to help us. I recently downloaded the BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) Sahaaya ("Help" in Kannada) app to raise a complaint against the garbage collectors. The app has a very basic and archaic interface. However, unlike most other Government services, it functions and at least allows you to lodge a complaint without crashing or asking for a bribe. My complaint was duly noted. Using Google Maps, I was able to submit my exact location as well as type in my address. The app asked for a few more details and allowed me to submit my complaint. Within seconds, I received a message on my phone saying that my complaint has been noted. The system then allotted it to a specific person whose job is to follow up and solve my issue. Within a few hours, I was intimated that my complaint had been allotted and was given the name and phone number of a person. Being a frequent user of popular ride sharing companies, I expected the person to solve my issue without them needing me to call them and cross verify. Well, I was wrong.
Orange Mantra Shows Its Supports To Digital India Programme
Source
Just like the formerly stubborn Ola Auto Drivers who demanded that you call them before they moved (thankfully this has changed and they do not expect a call anymore), I learnt online that the BBMP officials did not get of their seat unless you called them. I called them and a gentleman speaking in relatively good English answered. When I asked about when my issue would be solved as it had been over 24 hours since I had lodged the complaint and over 3 days since garbage had been picked up, he promised me in a very convincing tone that he would look into it and solve it. Five weeks hence, garbage collectors still come irregularly and not very often and the problem still persists.

My main issue with the entire Digital India program is that tons of money is budgeted for app creation. BBMP has created many apps such as Sahaaya, Green App (for buying saplings), a Toilet Finder app and others. There is no doubt that a lot of money would have been used to create these apps and a lot of it might have been 'used up due to other expenses'. The apps hope to solve many different problems. Pollution is a problem in Bengaluru and there is a Government app that sells saplings that will help us to do our bit to increase oxygen supply. Open defecation is an issue that is yet to be solved and so is garbage collection, roads cleaning and likewise. For all these civic issues that we face on a day-to-day basis, there is an app that can help us. However, the app only exists to say that we as a country are modern and digital. No work is even processed unless we pick up the phone and hold a conversation like we used to do even before the Digital Era. People complain on apps to fix road conditions and no one replies even after weeks. What is the point of calling ourselves a Digital Nation when all we can do is create apps that in no way benefits citizens? It reminds me of a famous saying-"All talk and no play". This is exactly what the Government is doing.

While you may argue that I am criticising the entire nation when a majority of my article deals with Bengaluru, let me substantiate my argument with two other points that is applicable to the whole of India.

All Government companies float tenders. These tenders can now be filled online. Filling these tenders is a cumbersome process.  They work only on specific browsers, require a specific version of Javascript that no one has used since the seventeen hundreds (a later and modern version cannot be used) and various other peculiarities. Even after conforming to all these annoying requirements, only luck will allow you to submit/upload whatever you want to. There is no guarantee that anything that you wish to do can be done in the first few tries. Taking all this into consideration, it is easier to just fill out paperwork and mail the tender application rather than submitting it online and "being a part of Digital India".

There is also a website that allows us to do all our RTO work such as applying for a license, renewals, car registrations and such. The website functions decently, but does not allow you to get your job done without visiting the RTO and standing in queue at least once. This is due to a bug. Payments (application fees) can either be paid online or at the RTO according to website. However, each time your try to pay online, the website crashes. It is easier to just go to RTO and pay in person after standing in a long queue rather than trying to pay online countless number of times. The Government, while advertising about Digital India says 'No More Queues'. Well, they are far from that.

In my opinion, Digital India is a brilliant scheme that has been badly implemented. Like most Government policies, there is no follow up after a service has been launched. The systems are outdated and apps are dreary to look at and use. Digital India is a scheme on which a lot of money has been spent, with no benefits for the common man. Fie Fie!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Visiting the Kasturinagar (KA-03) RTO - a tumultuous but manageable experience to get a Learner's/ Driver's License without an agent/ driving school

Ask anyone, and I can guarantee that they will have a story (and in most cases, many stories) about their trip, or rather, numerous trips to the RTO for something as simple as getting a Learner's License (LL) or a Driver's License (DL). In this blog, I hope to make your life a tad bit easier by guiding you through the entire process, which may seem easy at first but is full of (overcome able) challenges if you know what you are doing. I turned 18 in January this year, and besides cutting a cake, I worked on my LL application online. I challenged myself to complete the entire LL to DL process by myself and without the help of an agent or a driving school, unlike what the majority do. The lengthy application process and multiple visits to the RTO, impressed upon me why most people decided to pay a little extra to get an agent to do it for them. Still, I was determined not to pay a single rupee more than the official cost. I succeeded.  Do note that this answer is concerning the K

The Young Adults Series at the Bangalore International Centre

 November 2020 With France reimposing lockdown restrictions, closing universities, and restricting people's movement to just 1 hour per day, I decided to fly back to India. My rationale was simple; rather than attending online classes in a foreign city, with no roommates, no extra-curricular activities during which I would have usually interacted with people, and it being illegal to meet anyone you are not living with, it made more sense to return to a safer environment in which I could enjoy more freedom, as Bangalore was in a pretty good state, at least compared to France.  While waiting to board my flight at Charles de Gaulle Airport, I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and came across a post published by the Bangalore International Centre . Clickbait-ly titled  'MUN Ki Baat'  (for those who don't get the reference: PM Modi has a monthly radio show called 'Man Ki Baat'), it piqued my curiosity, and I found myself watching a recording of it. When I in

How the Indira Canteen is a Failure and a Success

Source Indira Canteen is a fast food joint that has been touted as CM Siddaramaiah 's pet project in the city of Bengaluru, Karnataka. The canteen aims to serve 500 people per meal per day. Rahul Gandhi inaugurated this populist scheme of the Congress led Karnataka Government on Independence Day 2017. This was done in run up to the Karnataka Assembly Elections that is taking place five days from today. All 197 wards have their own Indira Canteen, built at a cost of approximately INR 30 lakhs each {1} . The setting up of this canteen is obviously to reduce hunger among the poor. Indira Canteen serves food at heavily subsidized rates by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike. Breakfast can be availed at Rs. 5 and lunch at Rs. 10. The entire scheme has been well thought of and according to reports has been running smoothly {2} . The canteens are still operational (this is itself a major win for the Government), food is being cooked at remote locations by companies to whom thi

Opinion on the Tax Rebate - Budget 2019

Source The Union Budget of India that was presented on Feb 1, 2019 was a populist-vote bank driven one filled with proposals to woo all possible stakeholders who are eligible to vote. Be it farmers, the middle class or the economically stronger ones, all sections of society after a brief glance at the highlights of the budget will be content with what Piyush Goyal has to offer in the sixth and final Budget of this term of the NDA. Although I found many parts of the budget a questionable waste of money to fuel populist schemes, I did enjoy certain parts of it, especially the newly introduced tax rebate. The proposed tax rebate  in which income upto INR 5 lakhs is essentially tax-free is one that I wholly welcome for many reasons. The tax-rebate proposal and terms is something that I welcome unconditionally but the way how the Finance Minister has portrayed income up to INR 6.5 lakhs tax free (with the disclaimer that this is only possible if all the 'right' investments ar

A Visit To Chitradurga

Chitradurga Fort is located in the city of Chitradurga in Karnataka .  It is about 200 km from Bangalore and 200 km from Hubli too. It is accessible from most cities and small towns by buses and trains. You can also come here by car. Its website is  http://www.chitradurga.nic.in/ At Chitradurga Fort Entrance Clouds Kissing The Hill In Chitradurga there are many points of interest. Its main point of interest is called the Chitradurga Fort. The  fort was built in the 17 th century by the chieftain of the area which was under the Vijaynagar Empire . Further into the fort the sights are breathtaking. I could see clouds kissing the hillocks. The fort was a city in the olden day. It’s surrounded by a 32 km moat which cannot be seen everywhere today. An interesting fact about this fort is that a lot of importance is given to it, though it was just built by a local chieftain. The fort is mostly made of stone so it is advisable to go early in the morning before the scor

FUD! - RBI's Decision Sends Worldwide Crypto Markets into a Tizzy - What is the actual scenario like?

India's central bank, the Reserve Bank of India on 5th April, 2018 announced that all regulated entities such as banks will not be allowed to deal with cryptocurrencies (Virtual Currencies as they call them). Banks have been told to wind up all transactions with cryptocurrency exchanges within three months. Within minutes of this announcement, Bitcoin slumped 27%. Global markets attributed the fall in price to RBI's decision as India has a pretty large cryptocurrency investor market. However, RBI's decision is outdated and virtually has no effect on investors and exchanges. Source A few months ago, couple of banks like HDFC bank had voluntarily  withdrawn from dealing with cryptocurrency exchanges. I know this as a fact as when I started investing, I initially tried to deposit money on a cryptocurrency exchange using HDFC bank as I generally used their services, but due to them pulling out, I was forced to look at other options. This was around September, 2017. Duri

Android Lollipop (5.0.2) Update

Android Lollipop After a gruelling 2 hours, my OS was updated. I had updated my Moto G 2nd Generation's OS from Android KitKat (Android 4.4.4) to the latest Android Lollipop (Android 5.0.2). After downloading the 350+ MB OS, I couldn't wait to see the new user interface and OS. I had read excellent reviews online since the OS had been released to other parts of the world before it was released in India on 23rd January, 2015. Lock Screen: The minute my phone had switched off and switched on I could clearly see the differences. Since I had left my phone for over 2 hours I had many notifications.The notifications appeared on the lock screen, just like in an iPhone. On the bottom left corner of the screen you can directly go to the dialer by dragging the phone icon and then keying in the password. On the bottom right corner, you can drag the camera icon and directly open your camera. Just like previous versions, photos clicked by the owner of the phone cannot be seen