By Jaswant Kaur
25th June 2014
Around a decade ago, no one would have imagined the extent to which the Internet would change our lives. Be it payment of utility bills, filing income tax returns, buying a dress or contacting a childhood friend, everything is possible with a few clicks on the mobile or the laptop and that, too, without sacrificing the comfort of one’s home or office.
Ever since Narendra Modi was sworn in as prime minister, one item that has been engaging his attention is e-governance through broadband connectivity in rural areas and use of regional languages for the purpose. The task is easier said than done, as is evident from a report on global information technology released in April.
The World Economic Forum and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University had conducted a detailed study on the growth of information and communication technology (ICT) in 148 nations. The report mentions an index—Networked Readiness Index (NRI)—measured on a scale of 1 to 7 to calculate the extent of preparedness of a country to adopt and harness the benefits of ICT.
India ranked 37 among 82 countries in 2003. Though the number of countries increased, there has been a consistent decline in India’s ranking over the last decade. It slipped to the 83rd position in 2014 from the 68th position in 2013. The fall signalled India’s dismal performance in comparison to other countries. It is one of the least performing BRICS nations.
India’s vast size, huge population, lack of infrastructure and awareness regarding new technology pose a problem. If one goes by the information provided by the department of electronics and IT on its website, one is shocked to know the total number of e-transactions for standard services like utility service bills payments, transport facilities, education, etc. were only 121.63 crore during the last six months.
The number of e-transactions per 1000 people comes to 910 on an average. However, there are states like Assam, Bihar and Sikkim where this number falls to a paltry 27, 28 and 16 e-transactions respectively. On an average, only 0.75 per cent of transactions are done online for an average of 77 e-services provided throughout India. The Union Territory of Lakshadweep has the highest percentage (4.54 per cent) of online transactions with the lowest number (22) of e-services being provided since January, Andhra Pradesh offers the highest number (359) of e-services though the usage is only 0.27 per cent.