Modi praises digitalisation programme

2 Jul 19

A flagship policy to create a digital society in India has been praised by the country’s leader for significantly reducing corruption.

Prime minister Narendra Modi called the ambitious Digital India initiative on the fourth anniversary of its launch a “people’s movement” that has empowered the poor.

The latest initiative under the programme will see the government investing heavily in modernising classrooms by putting digital white boards in 150,000 schools and colleges.

“On this day four years ago Digital India was launched to leverage the power of technology and make technology more accessible,” Modi said in a series of tweets.

“Digital India has empowered people, significantly reduced corruption and improved public service delivery to benefit the poor.” 

The initiative was a “people’s movement”, he added, powered by citizens willing to learn as well as innovate.

Digitalisation has been a key aspect of Modi’s modernising vision and is reflected in the campaign launched in 2015 to make government services available online.

At the heart of digitalisation has been has been the creation of a digital identity for every citizen based on their 12-digit ‘Aadhaar’ social security number and authenticated by biometric data and fingerprints. 

The Aadhaar ID is required to open bank accounts and file tax returns, and now underpins an extensive payment system – a key reason why its champions believe it has helped reduce corruption and extend financial inclusion.

A principal motive of digitalisation was to enable the government to target subsidy payments while reducing fraudulent claims and corruption in how they are administered by public officials.

Digitalisation in India has built on the rapid uptake of mobile phones and has attracted global technology and social media firms into the online payments market

It has also been at the heart of wider efforts to modernise public finances by formalising an economy still heavily dependent on cash

In April India’s government was reported to be considering plans to ban the use of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, in a bid to tackle fraud and money laundering.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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