Building a World–Class Digital Infrastructure

The Digital System that serves as the backbone for research and supports online access to normal Citizens, Connect and collaborates among in India is not widely accessible. The Digital Infrastructure Building Mission— further distributed by provincial research and networks such as Individuals, Organizations and Institutions. The scope of the system is comprehensive in some respects, connect to most Metro, Urban, Rural areas, universities, Hospitals, Schools and colleges. Beyond this point, however, the system becomes less comprehensive in its reach.

Digital Access System is connected to only a few school divisions. The system is not connected to public libraries nor is it connected to the desks of policy makers or private social workers engaged in public service — or private sector firms. The fact that the Digital Infrastructure is not accessible to the vast majority of Indians constitutes a major challenge to mobilizing content with the goal of developing India as a knowledge society with a well–informed and flexible workforce.

Connecting Digital India and its services to every public institution and every public library in the nation would provide a national backbone for business, innovation, creativity and citizenship in the digital environment.

How best can we ensure that rural and remote communities are not left behind in terms of access to advance Digital Systems, and what are the priority areas for attention in these regions?

Given the high costs of Building Digital Infrastructure and maintenance, private sector firms only invest in development where a reasonable rate of return in the short– to medium–term is foreseeable. They do not invest in rural and remote markets where return on investment is unlikely or impossible over the longer term. As a result, the market–driven approach has led to a duopoly situation in which the roll–out of next–generation infrastructure is being neglected. This may not serve India's broader interests in terms of choice among innovation and access.

Muditva’s programs aimed at supporting infrastructure development have been directed at rural and remote communities. Programs such as Digital Infrastructure Development have been designed to provide some basic measure of connectivity for those communities where service is not available. They also require their respective communities to secure matching resources.

A national digital economy strategy should build on these models to help ensure that Indians in every region have access to the infrastructure and services needed to fully participate in the digital economy and become engaged digital citizens. Furthermore, a comprehensive plan for Digital infrastructure development in rural and remote communities would be an essential complement to a national digital economy strategy. Ideally developed by the government in partnership with its provincial, territorial and municipal counterparts, this plan should take into account such issues as demand for digital content and services, appropriate cost structures, protection of privacy and quality of service.