Ahead of the 2014 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party has released its manifesto which promises to use technology to bring change and growth in many different areas. Overall, the party shows a great understanding of how much technology can impact the country’s growth it can use technology for governance.
Here are some of the ways in which the BJP is thinking of using technology & what we make of it.
- To control food inflation, the party has proposed to leverage technology and disseminate real time data, especially to farmers- on production prices, imports, stocks and overall availability.
The open data program taken up by the central government is doing this already. However, as we’d written before, only real time data will be of any practical use.
- The BJP wants to focus on increasing the penetration of broadband, leverage technology for e-Governmance, generate IT based jobs in rural and semi-urban areas, make technology enabled products affordable for students and pursue a mission mode project under the ‘National Rural Internet and Technology Mission.”
The UPA government has already been pushing the broadband agenda. However, India hasn’t done so great with respect to broadband penetration. The National Optical Fiber Network project is trying to connect gram panchayats and create a backbone of optic fiber network. We would love to see some action on the mobile Internet front. Prices of 3G and 4G technologies need to come down (it also has a direct positive impact on GDP growth.)
- The party also wants to roll out Gujarat’s ‘E-Gram, Vishwa Gram’ scheme nationwide and promote e-Bhasha, the national mission for promotion of IT in Indian languages.
Indian languages are tough to crack. The lack of input methods, ineffective search, interoperability and standards are a major barrier. We are seeing some great developments on the mobile.
Some of the other plans: Our take
- Deploy IT to protect India’s priceless cultural and artistic heritage, which includes digitization of all archives and museology: More partnership opportunities for Google?
- Promote ‘open source’ and ‘open standard’ software: This will have implications on companies like Microsoft.
- Mandate digitization of all government work to reduce corruption and delays: The concept of paperless office has been remained on paper for over a decade now.
- Set up High-speed digital highways to unite the nation.
- Use technology to reduce Transmission and distribution losses: The RAPDRP scheme has been doing this. Are smart grids the answer? If yes, where will the massive investments come from?
- Use mobile and e-Banking to ensure financial inclusion.
- BJP aims to make every household digitally literate with a goal to make India the Global Knowledge hub.
- Use technology for scientific, strategic and long term town planning – including GIS based mapping: Very sensible approach.
- Wi-Fi zones in public areas: Yay!
100 New Cities
- The BJP will initiate building 100 new cities; enabled with the latest in technology and infrastructure -adhering to concepts like sustainability, walk to work etc, and focused on specialized domains Wi-Fi facilities will be made available in public places and commercial centres.
- Use technology to deliver low cost quality education to specially-abled students ‘in-home’ – through E-learning.
- Identify each and every special needs person across the country – establishing a web based disability registration system to issue universal ID for all applicable government benefits (healthcare,transportation, jobs, education etc).
Will the government issue another ID card or make use of the Aadhaar platform?
Utilize the ubiquitous platform of mobile phones for healthcare delivery and set up the ‘National eHealth Authority’ to leverage telemedicine and mobile healthcare for expanding reach and coverage and to define the standards and legal framework for technology driven care.
Using information technology for women’s safety.
Set up an All Women Mobile Bank to cater to women.
BJP will explore ways to reduce the daily burden of carrying books to school for children, which would also entail use of technology for education as a mission mode project.
Establish a national E-Library to empower school teachers and students
- Provide a non adversarial and conducive tax environment.
- Rationalize and simplify the tax regime
- Overhaul the dispute resolution mechanisms
- Bring on board all State governments in adopting GST, addressing all their concerns
- Provide tax incentives for investments in research and development, geared towards indigenization of technology and innovation
Foreign Direct Investment
- Barring the multi-brand retail sector, FDI will be allowed in sectors wherever needed for job and asset creation, infrastructure and acquisition of niche technology and specialized expertise. BJP is committed to protecting the interest of small and medium retailers, SMEs and those employed by them.
If BJP comes to power, there will be little hope for multi brand retailers to setup shop in India. The ban on FDI in online retail is will also stay.
Science and Technology
- Build world class, regional centres of excellence of scientific research in the field of nanotechnology, material sciences, thorium technology and brain research.
- Create an ecosystem for multi-country and inter-disciplinary collaborative research, and establish an Intellectual Property Rights Regime which maximizes the incentive for generation and protection of intellectual property for all type of inventors.
- Achieving synergy between industry and scientific research. Autonomous technology transfer organizations will be created as associate organizations of universities and national laboratories to transfer the know-how generated by them to industry.
This is key to solving India’s innovation problem.
- Set an institute of Big data and Analytics for studying the impact of big data across sectors for predictive science.
We hope the government doesn’t take up analytics on citizen data that is collected through projects like the Aadhaar and National Population Register.