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Digital Problems in upcoming Digital India

 

DIGITAL CHALLENGES OF UPCOMING DIGITAL INDIA.

 

Author: Satyam Kr. Mishra, Final Year Law Student.

 

ABSTRACT

This article is dealing with relatively one of the most burning legal and social issue which the whole country is facing today. In today’s time, the term “Digital India” has been known by almost every citizen of this country. Either it’s a small tea stall situated in one of the most undeveloped villages of our country or its the temple of democracy, the Parliament of India, each and everywhere this topic is being discussed every second day. Not only the people of India, but almost every such country who has known this country is well aware that now India is entering into the era of digitalization. But, mostly the impact will be on the citizens of this country so the researcher has focused more on this revolutionising impact on the people of this country. What are the problems that the government is going to face while implementing one of the most innovative and challenging programs of the country post independence? The researcher has tried and focused on the problems which are faced and which could again be faced in the coming days by the citizens of this country. The paper shows that how much the government, the people and the whole system is prepared to adopt this tremendous change in the country and its impact on the life of its citizens. What, we the people of India are losing while passing through this change which is taking place around us and for our benefit as per the government.

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The date was 1st of July, 2015 and the day was Wednesday, when the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi, Launched one of the most innovative schemes of all time which took place in India.  It was the day of launching of the Digital India campaign. This campaign is one of the most innovative as well as challenging for this country, which took place after the independence of India.

What does the prefix ‘Digital’ meant used before India, which is still a developing country. If we closely analyse the term Digital, then it meant really a lot for India. This seven letter word has the power to change the future of India. The Digital India Campaign is an attempt by the current Government to add the name of India in the list of countries that are entering into the new digitalized era, which is the upcoming future of this world.

The purpose and vision of this campaign is to bring more and more transparency in the country, to make the busy life of the people easier, to reduce the level of corruption in the country and to open new doors of development for the people of this country. The motto of Digital India programme is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.[1]

Now a question arises that how this revolutionised vision of digitalisation shall expand in our country. “Internet” is the foremost medium through which this dream of digitalisation can be put into floors. Today the term Internet doesn’t needs any introduction. Internet has become an integral part of the life of a very large population of this world. It has completely changed almost everything after its birth. Internet has also made a very strong impact of its presence in India. Going to the flashback we can see that before 25-30 years back, there were hardly any Television in everyone’s house, people had to communicate through letters and post cards, only few selected land line phones were available in the society. But what internet has changed now is that, now people can easily watch everything even in their mobile phones which they are intended to watch in Television. Now the people can send or receive messages, can talk in phones or even can make video chats with anyone across the whole world. But as we know that every coin has two sides. If Internet and technology has made our life easier than it has also generated some very grave threats to each and everyone’s life that are either associated with cyberspace or not a member of this cyber community. There are many challenges which the people of India especially the Government, have to tackle to implement and retain this Digital India campaign and to make it part of everyone’s life. The most important challenges include literacy, poverty, cyber security, economic stabilisation, cyber awareness among the people of this country and many more.

In this paper, the researcher has tried to throw some light on certain challenges which India has to face to make this dream of digitalisation come true. The researcher has also tried to focus on the lack of cyber awareness in the society especially rural society as well as weak cyber law and education in our country. In some parts of this paper, the researcher has given some of his personal opinions which according to him could help as a small contribution towards the revolutionized journey of digitalisation of my country.

 

Digital Bharat: Meaning of Digital India

  • Digital India campaign is a broader, long time standing and transformed version of e-governance project of the government which was initiated or began in the mid 1990’s. Its main purpose from beginning to till date is the development of the people and the society with the help of modern technologies. The main objectives under this vision are as follows; High-speed internet connectivity for fast delivery of public services, creation of unique digital identity for every citizen, making cyber-space safe and secure, to make government services available in real time through online medium, universalization of digital literacy and Financial transactions are to be made cashless and electronic.[2] For the proper fulfilment and working of all these objectives the immense contribution of cyber space is required. Without the proper availability of computers, laptops, smart phones and internet, the practicality of all these objectives are useless. There is no doubt that government of India is putting their best efforts to leave no stone unturned, for the success and proper implementation of the objectives of Digital India. The Government has launched many new apps, schemes, opened new departments as well as improvised the earlier portals and e-departments like AADHAAR which is the identity platform of the citizens of this country and which is also considered as one of the key pillars of Digital India Initiative, IRCTC, launch of Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) app, Centre for excellence for Internet of things (COE-IT), Common service centres (CSC), DigiDhan Yojna to create awareness among the people for the various economic uses of internet and many more like this.[3] But the foremost question which arise, that only launching this initiatives are sufficient for the success of digital India? No, there are various factors which play a very crucial role for the proper implementation of any initiative. These factors are responsible for the success and failure of any initiative.

 

Factors to be responsible for Success of Digital India

There are various factors which shall play a pivotal role for the proper completion of Digital India program. These factors mainly are proper internet facilities in Urban as well as in Rural India, Availability of Smart phones to the poor people, Cyber awareness among the people of this country, Cyber literacy, Stringent Cyber Laws in the country and the most important proper Cyber security system to tackle the whopping number of cyber threats and problems which will occur in the future.

According to an article published on February 03, 2016, in one of the leading daily newspaper of India, India has become the second-biggest Smartphone market in terms of active unique Smartphone users, crossing 220 million users, surpassing the US market, but still the Smartphone penetration of the total potential population is below 30 per cent.[4] In India till the last year, only a share of 34.8% of total Indian population is active users of Internet. While India’s neighbouring country and its strong diplomatic partners are quite ahead from India in terms of internet penetration. In Japan the total internet penetration in its share of population is 91.01%, In USA its 88.5% and in Republic of China its 52.2%.[5]

In a country like India, literacy plays a very pivotal role for economic and social growth of the country. Literacy of any country is sufficient to determine its present and future development or failure. Cyber literacy is a concept which is not new for the rest of the world who are connected with internet and cyberspace at a very large level but somehow it’s a very new concept for a very large number of people of this country. In general, Cyber Literacy or Digital Literacy means proper knowledge of internet and digital technologies as well as digital gadgets. It means to judge the right and wrong use of cyberspace. Attainment of Cyber literacy enables a person to live a digital life. According to a statement of Government representatives, India had a digital literacy rate of 15% as on February 04, 2015.[6] The Indian Government has planned to drag this rate to 50% in the next three years, i.e., by 2018. There is no doubt that the Government is spending thousands of crores for the empowerment of digital literacy. Many Programmes have been introduced by the government for this purpose like “Digital India Week’s Online Quiz Competition on Cyber Safety and Cyber Awareness”, National Digital literacy Mission (NDLM) Programme etc. But in a country like India is it enough, where the literacy rate among age group of seven years and above was 75%. In rural areas, it was 71% compared to 86% in urban areas. Adult literacy (age 15 years and above) rate in India was around 71%. For adults also, literacy rate in rural areas was lower than that in urban areas. In rural areas, adult literacy rate was 64% compared to 84% in urban areas.[7] In a country where the general literacy rate is not up to the level in such a country how can we expect such a rapid growth of digital literacy in such a short span of time? According to an article published on March 08, 2016 in Washington Post a worldwide known newspaper, In terms of ranking United States Stood at 7th position in literacy rate, United Kingdom occupied the 17th position, Japan ranks at 32nd and China at 39th position. India is not even among the 61 most literate countries of the world.[8]

Now, moving towards the level of cyber awareness in the country. How many people are really aware about their cyber rights? Cyber awareness not only meant the use of internet. It does not mean that whether a person knows or not the use of mobile phones or laptops or internet. But it means proper use of internet, the most effective use of internet. According to a report conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India [IAMAI], named “Mobile Internet in India 2015”, as per the report, Mobile Internet is still in the dominating position in India. In rural India, 52 per cent users accessed the Internet for entertainment purpose, 39 per cent for social networking, 37 per cent for communication and only 1 per cent for online shopping.[9] The condition of urban internet usage is much more impressive than the rural one. The people have to understand, that internet is not only for entertainment purpose, the people can use internet to connect with their representatives (e-governance), for online shopping, to express their views on different social issues happening in the country, to share their ideas with the government and many more.

So, it becomes the primary responsibility of the government as well as to the educated section of the society to encourage the people for the proper and effective use of internet. The government won’t be able to change the system alone and bring the digital revolution in the country. The immense contribution and support of the general people are must to bring a digitalized change in the society.

 

Role of Cyber Security in Digital India Programme

“The modern thief can steal more with a computer than with a gun. Tomorrow’s terrorist may be able to do more damage with a keyboard than with a bomb.”[10]

Security of its citizens is the biggest concern for any country and its government. All the countries frame their policies and implement them for their people. Most of the countries spend and allocate billions of dollars on their security and defence departments. But now the scenario has been completely changed. Now, the threats have increased and along with that its expansion has also reached new heights. Earlier there was threat of bullets, bombs, missiles, nuclear and chemical weapons, but now since from last few years a new threat have joined them which is not less menace than them, and its Cyber Threat.

In today’s time computers, laptops, smart phones etc. have become an integral part of almost every human beings life. We can’t deny this fact that we are very much dependant on these gadgets. If we consider these gadgets as a body, then internet could be considered as its heart. Internet is the medium which has revolutionised the whole system without any doubt. For almost every work we need computer and internet. From saving data’s to launching of satellites in space, the roles of computers are indefinable.

Now a very interesting as well as important question arises that why India needs a strong cyber security program?

The question itself gives its answer. In today’s scenario India is one of the biggest countries having a very huge population of technology friendly people as well as in India techno-savvy environment is expanding its roots in expeditious manner. Today, whether we want or not we are part of this cyber world as it is the need of time. Today our life is completely related with computers and internet. May be its television, banks, e-commerce, transportation and communication etc. everything which is related with our day to day life is connected with technology. So, to protect our identity as well as to ensure our security we need a tough cyber security program for us.

In India, with the rapid increase in terms of use of technology among the people, the threat of cyber security is also increasing. According to reports of National Crime Report Bureau (NCRB), the number of cyber crimes in India is adding in an expeditious manner. According to its Report, total number of cyber crimes registered under IT Act only in the year 2013 was 4,356. The digits increased in a whopping manner i.e. 7,201 in 2014 and 8,045 in 2015. The story doesn’t halts here. The total number of cyber crimes during the year 2013-2014, registered under IPC was 1,337-3,422.[11]

 

Cyber Attacks in Recent Times

In today’s time cyber attack has become a very common threat for all the countries across the globe. The numbers of hacking groups are also increasing in a very wide manner. With the number of crimes the ambit of these attacks are also expanding in a very high manner. And the most important as well as interesting thing to note here is that the whole global community either it’s the super powers like USA, Russia and China or smaller countries like Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, all are the victims of cyber attacks.

Either it’s Cyber Attack on the Sony Pictures in the year 2014 or in the year of 2016 major attack on the Central Bank of Bangladesh, where the hacking group managed to transfer $81 Millions on their respective accounts[12] or coming to one of the most recent one, the global ransomware attack in China on 15th May, 2017 where about 30,000 different organisations were affected. Each and every one more or less are affected by these threats.[13]

In India, from hacking of the twitter handle of major Indian political identity Mr. Rahul Gandhi, to attacks on major government websites, cyber attacks are spreading its roots expeditiously in India now a days. According to a report published by one of the highly esteemed daily print media agency, the official website of the elite National Security Guard (NSG) was hacked in the month of January, 2017.[14] The website of ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation Limited was also reportedly to be hacked in the year 2015.[15]According to the reports of Ministry of Home Affairs presented in the Lok Sabha in the month of February, 2017 by one of the senior central minister of current central government, more than 700 websites of central and state government departments were reported to be hacked in last four years.[16]

It is not like that cyber attacks are new in India, even 5-10 years ago, technology was misused for wrongful purposes but at that time India was not changing with such velocity of digitalisation which India is going at this time. Today the whole world is seeing India as an upcoming super power.

 From hacking any social networking account to cyber espionage, the cyber attackers are revealing their new ambitions, marked by their extraordinary attacks. Attackers ranging from cyber criminals to state-sponsored groups have begun to change their tactics, making more use of operating system features, off-the-shelf tools, and cloud services to compromise their victims. According to Symantec, one of the largest software giant providing security products and solutions, in its latest Internet Security Threat Report, revealed that, only in last 8 years, more than 7.1 billion identities have been exposed of in data breaches. In the year 2015, the average number of web attacks blocked per day was around 340K, which reduced to 229K in the year 2016.[17]

 

Laws that Matters for Success of Digital India

The spectrum of digital India is not finite to some specific groups or subjects or territories, but includes the whole of India. It needs the support of each and every section of Society for its success. It is related with the 1.21billion family members of this country. So, when its extent is that much bigger, so the problems to this shall also appear in a large numbers. And to tackle such problems we also need laws which must be that much competent enough that it could carry this big responsibility in its shoulders. Many laws are there in India which more or less deals with digital laws or its better to say that they are protecting the electronic or digital rights of the people of this country. But, here when we are dealing specifically with the topic relating to Digitalisation and Cyber Laws, so it’s better that I should discuss more about such laws which broadly deals with cyber and electronics laws.

In India, IT Act, 2000 is the mother legislation that deals with data and information in the electronic form. It is a comprehensive piece of law that broadly deals with the usage of computers, internet and software in the country. It also facilitates and provides legal frameworks regarding e-commerce and e-governance in the country which are the earnest need to survive in this era of digitalization. This Act passed through major amendment in the year 2008, named as The Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008. Chapter XI of this Act deals with cyber crimes. Various important provisions were substituted under this Act through the said amendment. The major amendments include substitution of section 43A, the damage of one crore prescribed under section 43 has also been deleted,  insertion of sections 66A-66F to section 66 which prescribes punishment for offences such as identity theft, violation of privacy, cyber terrorism etc., the term of imprisonment under section 67 has also been reduced to three years from five years.[18]

The law still provides an enabling legal framework that, should anybody commits any of the cyber crimes specified under the IT Act,2000, a case can be registered and if appropriate relevant incriminating evidence is brought, appropriate convictions can also be done. But, the cyber crime continues to be a prominent area and the government of India needs to be work much further so as to make this legislation far more in sync with the requirements of the changing time.

The Digital India Programme is one of the biggest initiatives taken by any government, since the independence of this country. There may have been various attempts made by the previous governments in terms of digitally revolutionizing the country, but none of the governments had done and brought it into this much bigger platform. It is a specific initiative which covers whole of the nation into once. This is an attempt to connect the country and its people directly with the world at large. It is an attempt by the Indian Government to include the name of India in the digitalised market, where India shall produce its own digitalised and electronics products which will be spread across the whole world. It is trying to produce jobs for the people of India. It is an attempt by the government to make these words of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi into reality, the words are,

 “When the people of India can go US to work in Google and Microsoft, then why can’t Google and Microsoft come to India to expand its roots and provide employment here”.[19]

But what the researcher personally feel after reading number of Articles and journals, watching various debates and interviews, that this law is still completely inadequate to fulfil the requirements of digital India dream. The law needs a complete overhaul because the Digital India vision has to be supported by enabling legal frameworks if we really want concrete results.

 

Aadhaar and Digital India: Beginning of new India.

Aadhaar, this seven letter word today doesn’t needs any introduction in India. From birth to death, from getting admission in play school to receiving the highly prestigious educational degrees, today one needs an Aadhaar with him/her to avail all these facilities. In India, Aadhaar stands for Identity. Identity to live, work, study, avail facilities and many more.

Aadhaar has resulted as the largest service delivery re-engineering programme in the world. It contains the identity of billions of people of this country into a single Aadhaar box. Aadhaar is the first initiative worldwide of its own kind that provides identity through effective use of biometric technology, which is at the heart of Aadhaar. Key features of Aadhaar that make it so transformational in nature are online authenticable digital cradle-to-grave portable identity.[20]

The Central Government has chosen Aadhaar as one of the most important medium which could play a pivotal role in fulfilling the dream of Digital India. The government has made it mandatory for all its citizens to link and register their bank accounts, mobile numbers with their Aadhaar number. Today if any citizen needs to avail any governmental facility then he must have to link his/her Aadhaar number with that scheme under which he/she seeks such facility. And according to the government the sole object behind all this hefty process is to bring all the citizens under a single roof, which would be free from any type of corruption, where single identity shall be used for everything, where every people shall be competent enough to do most of his such works for which he have to run again and again to Banks and government offices and most important it would help the people to directly connect with the government and its policies.

But, is this step of the government is totally correct and justified? I don’t feel so. What government is doing is seriously remarkable and significant step towards the development of the country. But the process is not totally correct and justified. Government has ordered mandatory registration of Aadhaar even with mobile numbers and bank accounts, for all its citizens. But this step of government is somehow infringing the right to privacy of the citizens. Now, the government would have full control and information about the personal and important data and accounts of every person. The allegations here is not that the government would misuse it but when the government is collecting all the identities and important personal information of all its citizens under one roof of Aadhaar, than the government must be that much competent that it could provide absolute protection from misuse or leakage of these information. But, after perusal of the current scenario I don’t feel that government is ready to bear such a big responsibility right now. If Identity theft happens than who would be responsible for this? Whether it is the responsibility of the person who registered his information or the government is responsible who made it mandatory to register. Let this question be decided by the government and the judiciary, who are responsible for the protection of rights of the citizens of this country.

Conclusion

       This paper gives a brief overview of cyber problems that may occur during the implementation of the Digital India initiative. This programme is considered as one of the biggest program of its own kind in the Indian history, which is competent enough to change the full scenario of this country. The researcher has tried to throw some light on various aspects of this programme, which may be responsible for its success or its breakdown. Cyber Crimes, which are considered as the biggest threat to this whole global community, are also expanding its roots in an expeditious manner in India now, and therefore, the Government should take appropriate measures and means to tackle this issue effectively. Only legal provisions are not adequate enough to deal with this issue effectively. Alternatively, the Government must evolve some mechanisms to motivate general public at large to join hand with the Government to make this dream called “Digital India” to come into reality.

[1] http://www.digitalindia.gov.in/content/vision-and-vision-areas last visited (09/03/2017)

[2] http://www.indiacelebrating.com/government/digital-india/ last visited (09/03/2017)

[3] http://www.digitalindia.gov.in/di-initiatives last visited (09/03/2017)

[4] http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/business/with-220mn-users-india-is-now-worlds-secondbiggest-smartphone-market/article8186543.ece Last visited (09/03/2017)

[5] http://www.internetlivestats.com/internet-users-by-country/ Last visited (09/03/2017)

[6] http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=136094 Last visited (10/03/2017)

[7] National Sample Survey (NSS) 71st Round, January to June 2014, conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2016/03/08/most-literate-nation-in-the-world-not-the-u-s-new-ranking-says/?utm_term=.1aed18dab47a Last visited (10/03/2017)

[9] http://www.iamai.in/media/details/4620 Last visited (10/03/2017)

[10] National Research Council, USA, “Computers at Risk”. 1991

[11] http://ncrb.nic.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2015/chapters/Chapter%2018-15.11.16.pdf Last visited (2.11.2017)

[12] https://www.wired.com/2016/05/insane-81m-bangladesh-bank-heist-heres-know/ Last visited (2.11.2017)

[13] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cyber-attack-china/cyber-attack-hits-china-government-schools-but-spread-slows-idUSKCN18B10H Last visited (2.11.2017)

[14] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/national-security-guard-website-hacked-defaced-with-abusive-message-against-pm-modi/articleshow/56280790.cms Last visited (2.11.2017)

[15] http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/isros-commercial-arm-antrix-website-hacked/article7413823.ece Last visited (2.11.2017)

[16] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/trend-tracking/over-700-govt-websites-hacked-in-4-yrs-mha/articleshow/57034891.cms Last visited (2.11.2017)

[17] https://www.symantec.com/content/dam/symantec/docs/reports/istr-22-2017-en.pdf Last visited (2.11.2017)

[18] http://www.eprocurement.gov.in/news/Act2008.pdf Last visited (3.11.2017)

[19] National Launch of Digital India Initiative, 1st of july, 2015, Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, New Delhi.

[20] http://inclusion.skoch.in/story/834/aadhaar-at-the-core-of-digital-india-1134.html Last visited (3.11.2017)

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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