India’s Information IWay : The Future Could Be Here Soon [GovTech]

The New Govt announced a scheme which will enable financial inclusion. The basic summary of the scheme was that pretty much every family in the country will get a nank account (source). Good behaviour provides an overdraft of Rs. 5000 after 6 months. And a free accident insurance will be provided upto 100,000 INR.

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Then yesterday, mentioned that the Govt is planning to ensure that all Medical,Birth and Educational records can be kept online (source). The obvious flaw in this one is will it reach the people who desperately need it.

Then today, we had the bigbang announcement, that India will be fiber optic connected upto 2.50 lakh panchayats by 2017 March (source). Now, wikipedia mentions that in 2002 India has 2.65 lakh panchayats. So, 95% of Indian rural areas will be fibre connected by 2017.

The obvious clincher is implementation. Govt’s make announcements. But, Can they implement well enough? So, we come back to the 1st announcement of financial inclusion for everyone.  According the reports, 1.5 crore accounts were opened in 1 single day. The target is to reach 7.5 crore accounts by January. By any standards this looks pretty good.

The Caveats are many.

a) Will the momentum be retained?

b) Opening Bank accounts is less difficult than laying fibre optic cables.

c) Privacy advocates will raise security concerns.

But, if things go through, we could have a great setup. All your information at the fingertips or more precisely a smartphone.

The corollary is -:

a) Greater Internet Connectivity, which can boom our fledgling IT Industry.

b) Improved fact checking of educational records.

c) Medical Industry standardization which can change the face of this sector completely. A common code could provide access to all previous Medical history. Many possibilities.

d) Greater accountability with subsidy distribution.  Someone told me, that in erstwhile AP the BPL coverage was greater than 100%

Hopefully the prime minister could get the IT minister to talk to startups. They can give innovative suggestions in terms of laws, implementation and many such criteria.

There is talk that planning is in progress for the smart cities concept announced in the budget. It will be a good idea to test a pilot project and see if 24/7 cities are a good idea.

The positive is higher economic activity. For a country with 40+ temperatures across Summer, nightime is good for great business. The key question would be security with the underlying advantage of removing the black market economy of paying haftas to keep establishments open after 11 pm at night.

What are your thoughts?

[Guest article by Umashankar Das.]

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