Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided that black money circulation should stop. However it can be controlled if we use digital methods of transaction. ‘Digital India’ is a large scale and ambitious project right now. But to make Digital India a reality, every nook and corner of the country including the villages need to have proper internet connectivity.
Already there are 400 million active internet users in the country. This means that only a little above 1 billion users are yet to get connectivity. The figures are still large, and for a developing economy like India, this could cost a lot. However, the country, under Modi’s guidance, is moving forward. According to Mashable India, Arun Jaitley is targeting the internet in over 150,000 villages in this fiscal year.
Google and Facebook Tried to forge their way
Facebook and Google were having issues with this for long. India is an open economy with over billions of users. However, for the most of the population to remain in villages where internet connectivity is not available, it is a problem. The Indian government is now stepping up to take the responsibility. It is setting up internet connection in 1050 villages for the first phase of implementation.
More than 900 million people are unconnected in villages till now. To capture this market, Google has already installed Wi-Fi in over 100 railway stations across the nation. Even Facebook wished for Digital India to become a reality.
Earlier Facebook had attempted to come forward with a plan with Airtel to make limited internet usage so more people could use it. However, they ran into trouble after protests from media personnel and people in general.
How Reliance Jio is Affecting Digital India
Reliance Jio had started installing Fiber-optic internet cables across the country a long time ago. They are now all set to provide internet facilities to even the remote villages.
The Jio offer is gaining momentum across the country. They have already provided Jio-Fi, which is free Wi-Fi for a year in the country. Couple that with their cheap 4G smartphone launch and free internet and data usage for over nine months (extended up to 30th June), Reliance Jio is doing its part in providing cheap access to the internet to the remote regions of the country.
It has already started establishing over 45,000 towers across the country so that its cell reception reaches even the farthest more parts of the country. This move has instilled tension among the Telecom industries. Many of them are at a price war with each other.
Government Foresight For Digital India
The government has started the program with an initial fund of about $62 million. It will extend to the furthest corners of the country but will start with a few major villages at first. Initially, the services will be just to educate the masses on the usage and benefits of the internet.
The program aims to “provide essential development services to rural areas using digital technology,” says Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology official Aruna Sundararajan.
The program is entirely relying on the government’s initiative to make fiber optics active across the country. If all goes as planned, then interactive education, access to medical services and digital payment systems will be accessible to the poorer sections of the society too.
The government is really relying on access to the internet to make things transparent. After banning 86% of the currency notes in circulation in November 2016, the country is approving digital payment methods far and wide. If all goes well, it will enhance transparency in transactions, and it would also help identify the individuals who do not pay taxes on time.
There are larger national and international implications of providing free internet services. Whether they are implemented right way or not is to be seen.