Efforts of Government and private firms towards digitalization

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It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that
survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.
-Charles Darwin
India has always been rich in resources and prosperous in traditional values. To
bring recognition globally India needs to adapt the changing trends of global
economy. A change is required to bridge the gap between traditional economy and
modern economy.

On July 01, 2015 Hon’ble shri Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
launched ‘Digital India’ program for transforming India into digitally empowered
society and knowledge economy. Digital India is a project for transforming citizen
service delivery mechanism from traditional paper-based brick and mortar to digital,
online and electronic form.

Efforts of Government and private firms towards digitalization:-
Indian Government has taken many initiatives on the way to achieve complete
Digitalization. Many applications have been developed so far to impart transparency,
avoid physical presence and save time and money.

The basic amenities of life have gone digital over time partially or completely

FOOD | PROPERTY | E-COMMERCE | EDUCATION | FINANCE | HEALTH

Traditionally man was required to go out to earn and buy these sources of
livelihood but now all of these are only at one click in front of us. ‘Work from
home’ concept has changed the life all around which simply means now we can
earn from home and get most of the necessary things at our doorsteps itself.

With the outbreak of the Pandemic (COVID-19) people have understood
the significance of digitalization as without it social distancing can’t be
followed. Industries/Business firms/local vendors who would adapt their
infrastructure according to the changing time will survive in such a critical
scenario and rest will face severe implications financially due to lockdown and
social distancing guidelines.

This is how Government’s Digital India Initiative is bringing change in basic
amenities

FOOD: From local sabjivalas to five star hotels, everyone is equipped
with technology in one way or the other. People today have second
thoughts on dining out when they can easily have anything from the
comfort of their home by using mobile applications like zomato, swiggy,
food panda and many more. These applications enable customer to order
their favorite food from multiple restaurants of their city. In metro cities
firms like big basket and many other provide vegetables and grocery
product at lesser price and deliver at home. Thanks to the Digital India,
such things have become possible & flourishing which once were
considered next to impossible.

PROPERTY: There are many websites where buyers, sellers and
broker/agents can exchange information about real estate properties
quickly, effectively and inexpensively. In addition to providing a digital
platform these websites also enable them to list their property for sale,
purchase or rent. Even the Government has taken a step ahead & eStamps
have been introduced by government to impart transparency and save
paper, thus making it a green initiative on one hand and enhancing
transparency & convenience on the other. Many government portals are
available to check the status of registration of land/housing property,
commercial property and other related details such as land
khasra/khatauni thereby saving a lot of time and money of the individual.
Applying for various government schemes remotely have become
possible too.

E-COMMERCE PORTALS: Online shopping has become an emerging
trend now a days. It is evident from the fact that world’s richest man is
the owner of one of the E-Commerce firms. The E-commerce companies
provide a vast collection of merchandise available on a single window at
attractive rates. These companies use 1-click technology, digital
marketing, secure payment system, 3D trial room and the most important
easy return and exchange which make this modern style of shopping
preferable to conventional shopping techniques. Had the Government not
introduced Digital India, these initiatives would not have gained that
popularity among masses as they have today. Now each & everything
which is available in market can easily be delivered to the last man
residing in sub-urban areas or even to the remotest of the villages.

EDUCATION : Digitalization has given completely new dimension to
the process of teaching and learning. The traditional black board and
chalk concept was replaced way back with the projector and screen, has
now been further replaced with eClasses. The concept of eClasses
enticing students and encouraging them to take more interest in studies
which makes study and syllabus easier for students, this way student
explores many different prospects and dimensions of one concept. This
process helps in broadening their mind. The concept of virtual classes
and e-conference/teaching at a distance has make it easily accessible to
all those who are interested in it. It provides high quality information to
all regardless of age, region or formal qualifications. Many applications
have been developed so far which allow students across country to enroll
themselves in various learning programs by sitting at home. Many
distance learning program are running now a days to provide education
and even degree without any need of physical presence. Government has
also come forward & introduced Ebasta portal where students will be
given information related to studies. Books will be made available,
important notes and other materials will be provided through this portal.
So now Students can have multiple learning programs run by their
favorite faculty by sitting at home. In the recent outbreak of Covid-19
pandemic, government has come forward to take care of the training
needs of the frontline workers & launched iGot platform using MoHRD
DIKSHA as a host. The platform will provide the training modules on
flexitime and onsite basis so that COVID response can be delivered at
scale for the workforce needed to tackle the pandemic. Courses on iGot
have been launched for Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, Hygiene workers,
Technicians, Auxiliary Nursing Midwives(ANMs), State Govt. Officers,
Civil Defence Officials, Various Police organizations etc.

FINANCE: From the salary credited in one’s account to the amount
debited from it, everything has gone digital. Online applications such as
BHIM, PhonePe, PayTM etc. provide various facilities like online
payments of electricity bills, gas bill, recharge of mobile/dish TVs/smart
cards, transferring money to any bank account, while shopping at market
and many more. These applications are directly linked to the bank
account of user and provide all the above facilities on one click. Many
finance management applications have been developed which tell us how
to invest our hard earned money to get maximum returns.

HEALTH: Many hospitals have developed a new online system to book
appointment with doctors to eradicate unnecessary crowd from hospitals
also saving time and money of needy. e-Hospital Portal is introduced by
government so that the public will be able to get both the appointment
and advice from the Doctors easily. At the time of any crisis, information
about any disease and its analysis can also be obtained under this
portal. Recently “Aarogya Setu App” has been introduced by the
government which can track through a Bluetooth and location generated
social graph and tell a person about his interaction with someone who
could have tested COVID-19 positive and even the areas more prone to it.

More than half of the Indian population is dependent upon Agriculture for
their livelihood and the entire population of the country is dependent upon the
farmers for their daily substances. Agriculture also amounts to one fifth of
India’s GDP. Ironically, the standard of living of farmers is quite a mess in the
country. To counter act the sorry state of our nourishment providers, the
government of India has launched some mobile applications (pusakrishi,
Mkisan,shekari masik, E-nam, Emandi) for the empowerment of rural and urban
farmers. Farmers can now get most of the things like advice on farming
techniques, anticipation of weather, rates of grains etc. on their fingertips,
thanks to the government’s Digital India initiative.

Changing trends and impact of Digitalization:-

India has 560 million active Internet users as of 2019. India is the secondlargest online market, after China. The majority of India’s internet users are
mobile phone internet users, which is convenient and easy to use as well as
inexpensive as compared to broadband connections that require PC, laptop and other such costly & bulky equipment. 4G constituted 96 % of the total data
traffic consumed across the country.
(Source: Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI))

Active Social Media users in India:-
With the ease of internet access, the number of active social media users
in India stood at 330 million in 2019 and it is expected to reach 448 million by
2023.
290 million active social media users in India access social networks
through their mobile devices. (Source: Statistic reports 2019 and Kantar IMRB
ICUBE Report)

Social media usage in India:-

Age distribution in Internet usage in percentage:-

Internet has become more accessible that leads to increase the number of
internet users in India with more than 1 in 3 individuals accessing the Internet in
India, penetration in urban is twice that in rural. The female population is half of
the male Internet population in India. The condition worsens when it comes to
rural context. Rural India has a sizeable portion that is devoid of internet access.
Thus, there is immense headroom for growth which will contribute to an
increase in the overall internet population over the next few years.
(Source: Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), Global Web Index)
Carving a new Path through Technological Excellence:-
The Indian economy has been growing rapidly and thus increasing the
thrust to various business sectors. It has been continuously enticing the investors
globally. It become possible through better infrastructure facilities and skilled
manpower with expansion of markets and with various government policies and
plans, which have eased up the process of doing business in India, further
boosting fresh business initiatives, making their way in the form of startups.
Due to Government’s promoting Digital India initiative, our country has
witnessed over 4,750 technology startups, India has proclaimed to be third
largest base worldwide.

It has successfully become one of the most lucrative markets for highly
advanced, innovative and technology-led businesses, where cities like
Gurugram , Bengaluru, Chennai and Pune have emerged as top favourite IT
hubs. And today, it has successfully reached tier-2 and tier-3 cities as well. The
availability of affordable smartphone/laptop devices and internet services, even
in rural India has ensured that technology and its services reach everywhere.
Starting from website development, mobile application development, digital
marketing, social media marketing to high-end business software development,
India has emerged as a key player in the IT Industry, which has further provided
the next level strength & support to the Indian economy.

Expansion of wings through IT:-
The Indian Information Technology (IT) Sector plays a vital role in the
expansion of almost every business sector. From manufacturing, trading,
marketing, sales to customer support, Information technology and its services
have an intense and influential presence far and wide. The continuous growth,
technological advancements and emerging innovations in the IT Sector have
enabled The Government of India to leverage the benefits at its best.
The Government has left no stone unturned to improve the IT
infrastructure by increasing internet connectivity and making India digitally
empowered in the field of technology. As a result, the government and its
services have become approachable even in rural areas. It works as a bridge
between the urban and rural divide. The wide presence and expansion of eGovernment have driven a strong force in developing India, with a prime focus
to enhance public service delivery to the citizens. Government and many private
companies are providing cash back, cash rewards, gift coupons to encourage
people to use digital platform for routine work. Even the government now a
days cashing upon ‘minimum government, maximum governance’ which is now
becoming a reality due to Digital India.

Criticism and drawbacks:
Despite a continuous digital growth in the country, there are still some
drawbacks and shortcomings on the part of government and individuals.
 Digital services such as ola, Amazon, facebook and whatsapp and 1000’s
other are mostly used for the convenience and for communication
purpose but it does not make a difference to the poor who are 21.9%
(according to 2011 census) of our population.
 Increase in dependency- Due to digitalization people are becoming
dependent on gadgets. For example- earlier people used to be remember
contact numbers and address of relatives but today people use electronic
devices for such purposes.
 Mode of entertainment has changed- 90’s kids used to play outdoor
games which would make them physically fit but today’s kids watch
cartoons & other such OTT content on smart phones and television.
Today’s children get continuous exposure to smart phones and other
electronic devices leading to un-healthy lifestyle causing various health
problems like eyesight problems, obesity, irregular BP etc. to name a few
owing to inactive schedule.
 Encouraging un-healthy food habits- As technology has made it easier to
order your favorite food from your favorite place any time anywhere, it
has increased un-healthy food habits as people are neglecting homemade
healthy food and eating junk from outside.
 Modernization leads to increased workload as with the help of computer
and other electronic devices it has become possible to work from home.
Thus sometimes people have to do extra work from home and even at
home they don’t feel homely.
 Job opportunities for those who are not digitally literate are decreasing.
To operate latest digital devices a skilled manpower is required .Where
earlier, it took four to five workers to complete the task, now it may
require only two workers due to the installation of the devices. Which is
directly eating up jobs of many poor people who can’t afford to get
digital literacy.
 Empowering 60000 villages with broadband doesn’t have any meaning if
farmers’ suicide continues.
 Still there is a lot of discrepancy and redundancy of data collection
because of unwanted paper work and inefficient planning.
 Many fake apps are being prepared, which looks like original payment
apps and most of the users get cheated easily.
 Digital platforms (like whatsapp, tiktok, facebook and many others) are
being misused to spread many fake News which many a times create
stressful situation in the country by feeding negativity among the masses.
 Digitalization without digital literacy is proving a curse to the society as
either people use traditional methods or they end up getting things
wrongly done.
 The pace at which we are going digital, with more than this pace cyber
crime is enveloping us.
 Sedentary life style as a byproduct of digitalization is inviting many
lifestyle diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity etc.

Convert the efforts into Potential outcomes:-
There are some suggestive measures to overcome the shortcoming of
digital India initiative-
 Digital literacy program must work at a wider and faster scale by
reaching to the remotest part of the country.
 Government should run many campaigns regarding digital
awareness and must provide proper training about digital devices
and equipment. Government has to reach out to each locality and
guide every citizen about the importance of digital literacy. Lack of
awareness is also a kind of disaster which has to be treated in the
same way. Survey of each locality must be done on regular basis
and training campaign need to be organized to train maximum
number of people.
 Government should create job opportunities for the unfortunate
class and should initially provide training of various devices and
equipments. This way it can encourage more people to get training.
 Government can organize short term scholarship programs which
may involve money rewards and certificates. It will entice more
people and easily spread awareness among poor people.
 To prevent frauds and hacking of accounts, structure of cyber
security must be strengthened first.
 Poverty is the biggest hurdle in the race of digitalization. So
concrete steps must be taken by government to eradicate this
menace.
 Annual Training programs are needed for employees of public as
well as private sectors to help them accommodate with latest
technologies.
We should not expect a big jump as the project just started in 2015.
What should be considered important is that we have made a step
towards digitalization. In next few years, we will achieve 100%
digitalization with complete digital literacy.

Cyber Security – a key ingredient:-

The pace at which the Digitalization is growing, so is the cyber
frauds and in the present scenario, it has become most important thing
to save ourselves from these. everything now a days is working
on/through computers , processors, memory, which can be hacked &
compromised, be it-computer, mobile/smart phone, smart TV, air
conditioner, vehicle…and many more, hence to prevent losses that
these attacks can cause & to fight against terrorism in its latest form,
knowledge/awareness of it is mandatory.

The potential threats being Ransomware, DoS & DDoS, The dark
web, Disinformation and interference campaigns. Criminals active in
the domain of cybercrime have been able to adapt quickly and
capitalize on the anxieties and fears of their victims. Distribution of
child sexual exploitation material online appears to be on the increase.
New research has found that it’s possible to use 3D printing
technology to create “fake fingerprints” that can bypass most
fingerprint scanners used by popular devices. As millions of people
now work from home, it is becoming more necessary for organizations
to protect their employees from a wide variety of threats that can
permanently damage enterprises. Over a quarter of the data breaches
that occur have malware involved in them and the average cost to a
company going out and dealing with an attack is about $2.6 million,
so it’s not a paltry sum of money.
(Source : https://www.techrepublic.com)

However, several cybersecurity firms are going the extra mile to
help customers set up a safe environment for their telecommuting
workforce. The new reality of having the majority of a businesses
workforce working from home has opened a Pandora’ Box or
cybersecurity issues for these organizations. Hence, as Digitalization
is important so is the Cybersecurity. Taking these into consideration
government recently started a twitter handle @cyberdost for tackling
and awareness on cybersecurity measures. Further, for reporting of
such crimes, government has opened a portal too on
www.cybercrime.gov.in. Moreover, government organizations like
CERT-In (Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) & CDACs
are also working in this direction to smoothen the Digitalization
process in the country.

Way Ahead:-
Although government is doing its bits for fighting cybercrimes, but
each & everything cannot be done by government without we citizens’
support. As such, it’s our duty too to safeguard ourselves from these
cybercrimes. By following below given precautions, we can overcome
cybercrimes in a great way, rest will be taken care by government &
big firms of the cyberspace domain.

What we can do?
o Awareness – is the only weapon
o Install and enable :-
o Personal firewall
o Anti-spyware
o Anti-phishing controls
o Keep up-to-date patches and fixes on the operating system and
application software.
o Enable/Install anti phishing toolbars such as “Phishing Filter”,
“Web Forgery” etc.
o Use latest Internet Browsers having capability to detect
phishing/malicious sites.
o Exercise caution while opening unsolicited emails and do not
click on a link embedded within.
o Report suspicious emails/system activities to appropriate
authorities
We don’t share toothbrush, then why share Password?
o Passwords must never be shared & changed at regular intervals.
o Passwords to be treated as sensitive and never be written or
stored.
o Do not reveal a password in email, chat, or other
communication.
o Do not reveal a password on questionnaires or security forms.
o Always decline using of “Remember Password” feature.
o Use strong passwords containing combination of lower case
characters, uppercase, characters, numbers and special
characters.
o Password history should never be saved.
o Maximum password time should be configured so that the
system forces the user to change it and don’t hint at format of
password.
o Keep your Anti-Virus, OS and Application updated.
o Access Internet from Low Privilege User account.
o Frequently check unusual folder locations for document (.doc,
docx .xls, .xlsx) file extensions (search with advanced option)
o Open attachments in non-native applications
o Regularly check last login of email to know location, date &
time.
o Don’t rely on Display Name, Check full email-ID of the sender.
o Always be cautious while opening attachments, even from the
known sources.
o Use virtual keyboard to type user name & passwords.
o Avoid swapping of USB devices among computers containing
sensitive information & computers connected to Internet.
o Scan all electronic media for viruses before use.
o Do not hand over Computer Storage Media for repairs to private
Maintenance vendors.
o All unserviceable, damaged, or unused media be destroyed by
physical crushing and hammering.
o Enable : ‘Show hidden file and folders’
o Disable : ‘Hide protected operating system files” & “Autorun/Auto-play feature’
o Use high security settings on social networking sites, and be
very limited in the personal information you share.
o Monitor what others are posting about you.
o Do not use the same password for more than one system or
service, if someone obtains the password for your email, they
can access your online banking information with the same
password.
o Beware of unsolicited contacts from individuals in person, on
phone & on the internet who seek corporate or personal data.
o Monitor your bank statements, balances, and credit reports.
o Don’t share usernames, passwords, credit cards, bank
information, salaries, computer network details, security
clearances, home and office physical security and logistics,
capabilities and limitations of work systems, or schedules and
travel itineraries.
o Be thoughtful and limit personal information you share such as
job titles, locations, hobbies, likes and dislikes, names & details
of family members, friends and co-workers.
o Verify those you correspond with. It is easy for people to fake
identities over the Internet.
o Do not click advertisements shown in the social web pages.
Keeping above things in mind will only help in countering
cybercrimes. So the need of the hour is ‘go Digital but take precautions’.

Author: S S Sikarwar, Dy. Comdt. , CISF