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Digital revolution: India is alive and kicking

Ambikanand Sahay, Lucknow: Forget the naysayers, prophets of doom and preachers of pessimism who love to find fault, day in and day out, with everything which they see — even when most others notice a shining silverline in the sky. But they don’t matter. India is moving ahead. In spite of them.

How many of us know, for instance, that India happened to be the earliest issuers of coins in the world along with China and Lydia as far back as in circa 6th century BC? How many of us are aware of the fact that India holds the second largest market of smartphones in the world? And how many of us can feel it at this point in time that we might be one of the leaders on Earth’s Digital Economy in not too distant a future? Probably, sooner than later.

Indeed, we have made the move. And we are progressing at a rapid speed. Don’t be surprised if history repeats itself after a gap of 2600 years! And yes, in the backdrop of what all are happening in the digital sphere, we might lead the way even in money matters. Indications are very much there for all to see. Here is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi says in this context: “The entire Nation has joined hands to make the dream of a Digital India into a reality. Youngsters are enthusiastic, industry is supportive and the government is proactive. India is yearning for a digital revolution.”

Modi’s words aren’t mere rhetoric. Looking at what we have already achieved, India has gone digital to a great extent. Already. If you have time and patience to get yourself acquainted with facts and figures regarding the digital revolution, you would find that a lot many things are happening in this field:

The number of mobile phone users has shot up from 90 lakhs in 2014 to 1.08 crores in mid-2017. Likewise, the number smart phone users have gone up from 22 to 40 crores during the same period. This apart, there has been a rapid increase in the number of internet users – from 24.3 crores in June 2014 to 50 crores in May 2017. Do you know that 2.5 lakh kilometers of optical fibre cable lines have already been laid connecting villages and gram panchayats in the country? This figure stood at a mere 358 kilometres in 2014.

The e-commerce sector too has registered a rapid rise – from a business worth Rs. 1.26 lakh crores in 2015 to Rs. 2.11 lakh crores in 2016. And if you can go by KPMG estimates, this figure is expected to shoot up to Rs. 7.78 lakh crores by the end of 2020.

In the field of IT/Technology, about 4000 new start-ups are seen to be coming up every year. During the past three years, more than 2000 deals worth a sum of Rs. 1.14 lakh crores were clinched.

The show on e-Governance front looks equally bright with the per day transactions shooting up like never before. The daily transactions have now gone up substantially from Rs. 66.25 lakhs to several crores in 2016.

It’s interesting to note that more and more people are now doing their transactions through digital payments, particularly since demonetization on November 8, 2016. Per day transactions through BHIM has registered an 8803% rise in the past few months! Payments through other apps have also gone up – Mobile wallets (104%), RuPay (270%), Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (390%) and IMPS (52%). It’s equally interesting to note that the Government now makes payments through the direct benefit transfer mode in as many as 267 schemes.

Other schemes including e-NAM, Digital Tourism, Jeevan Pranam, Start UP India, Skill India, Swachh Bharat etc are gathering momentum.

What’s important in all these figures is that the Indians are beginning to accept the change. And remember what Harold Wilson, former British Prime Minister, used to say: “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.”

Rest assured, we are not going to the cemetery. The nation is alive and kicking. Union Minister Ravishankar Prasad says: “India is well set to become US$ 1 Trillion Digital Economy in next 7 years …… It rather looks an easy target ….. However, the challenge would be to reach this target in 3-4 years…… I appeal to the industry to join hands with the Government which firmly believes in openness, supportive and proactive approach……. India is committed to take the lead in the ongoing digital revolution in the world, and I would appreciate industry’s participation and support in this mission…… Through such discussion, we aim to seek contribution and participation of the private sector as we stride forward to make India a truly global Digital economy.”

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