India’s ‘Digital India’ initiative triggers several transformative programmes and forced more Indians go online and the internet supports citizens to avail result of good governance system in minutes. As the government wants to ‘transform the entire ecosystem of public services through the use of information technology, the Government of India has launched the Digital India programme with the vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy’. It means the holistic approach of the Digital India Programme is to bring all Indian citizens in the digital domain. However, the larger question is what about more than 72% Indian population who are still excluded from the larger information society. Most importantly, those who are left behind .. they are poor, marginalized; they live in remote parts of India; they are Dalits, they are tribals and indigenous population; they are minorities; they are physically challenged or they are women.
As the Indian government is moving different services and welfare schemes rapidly to self-serve channels, most of the population who are already ‘developmentally’ excluded, who are economically poor, who do not have Internet access, who are unable to move online, or who are not computer-literate, will definitely miss out on government welfare initiatives and other services online.
In this present Indian socio-economic, political and cultural scenario it is needless to say, ‘these people who are left behind, they are now further marginalized as the ‘Digital India’ initiative progresses. Interestingly, these digitally marginalized citizens are likely to be disproportionately significant users of government services and welfare schemes. Thus, the implications of digital marginalization need to be identified properly, analysed critically and addressed effectively.
So, let me expect– in near future the government would understand the ground reality and would potentially take steps to pave the way for taking initiatives to enable all citizens remaining in the loop of inclusive digital growth.