Digital India

MeitY

Introduction

The Digital India (DI) mission was launched in July, 2015 by our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with an aim to transform India. DI’s goal is to digitally empower society by infusing digital technologies into the public service ecosystem with the use of Information Technology and to make India adept at emerging technologies to transform the country into a leading knowledge economy. 

Since DI focuses on a tech-enabled societal transformation, the overarching mission works in-tandem with multiple departments under several ministries; each individual program stands on its own, but also is part of the larger vision. DI efforts are laid down to achieve results in two key focus areas:


  • Governance and services on demand – DI aims to integrate processes and information across departments and jurisdictions seamlessly so to help provide real-time services to citizens both – on online and mobile platforms, digitally enable processes for businesses, creating a digitally enabled cashless economy and creating cloud-based repository for easy access for the citizens as well as better planning and decision-making with the help of GIS.
  • Digital empowerment of citizens – Provide digital literacy and digital services to all citizens through universally accessible digital resources and services in several Indian languages and introduction of collaborative digital platforms, availability of all documents and certificates online and availability of all entitlements through cloud. 


Funding: Rs 3, 958 crore for 2020-21

  • Rs 6,000 crores allocated in 2020-21 budget for BharatNet, Dept of Telecommunication (DoT);
  • Rs 3000 crore allocated in 2020-21 budget for development of Skill India programme, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MoSDE);
  • INR 8000 crore allocated in 2020-21 budget for the National Mission on Quantum Computing and Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology (MoST);

Key Initiatives

Aadhaar Enabled Payment System

Developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NCPI), AEPS is a payment service based on an individual’s Aadhaar card (one can use Aadhar card instead of debit or credit cards) which enables the owner of the card to make financial transactions such as transfer funds, make payments, deposit cash, make withdrawals, etc. The AEPS is bank agnostic and enables a customer to make transactions from any point of Sale or micro ATMs via using Aadhaar-based and biometric authentication. According to NPCI, the platform saw 208 million transactions up until October 2019. The project was started by the GoI in 2016. 


The NITI Aayog has discussed the use of AI as an important part to play in the scheme as there is scope for creation of multilingual chatbot to aid customers, ensuring safe and secure payments, elimination of false declines, etc. 

Learn more about the Initiative

MyGov

MyGov platform was launched in 2014. It promotes participatory governance by providing citizens an opportunity to voice their opinions in policy making and recommendations. The platform provides a thriving space for discussions, tasks, talks, interactive polls and blogs on diverse issues related to governance and public policy. It currently has more than 9.5 million users engaged in various activities, with more than 10,000 posts every week, which are collected, analysed and shared with the concerned ministries and departments.


Since the platform is undergoing continuous upgrades, AI has a special part to play in the initiative. It has scope to create interactive chatbots, real-time data analysis, filtering malicious content and generating automated comprehensive reports for ministries and departments. 

Learn more about the Initiative

National Mission in Education through ICT (NMEICT)

The NMEICT is a centrally-sponsored scheme which aims to leverage the potential of ICT in education through teaching and learning processes which shall reap benefits across India who are engaged in institutions for higher education. Under this mission, the government aims to use ICT interventions to bolster enrolment rates in higher education by creating a proper balance between the right content, undertaking research in imparting education and other critical areas and increasing connectivity among other nations to share our progress and exchanging ideas. The aim of the mission is to accomplish these goals by:


  • creating and delivering valuable content through the content delivery portal Sakshat
  • avoid recreating content that is already available online freely. The content is also aimed to be dispersed through EduSAT and Direct to home platforms.

NMEICT has a vision to service more than 50 crore working population with the opportunity for continuing education through interactive, personalised knowledge modules that suit the users’ needs and aspirations. The initiatives under NMEICT which have a major AI component are listed below:


  • Sakshat Portal- This is a multilingual, one-stop education portal to facilitate lifelong learning through creating and curating relevant interactive educational content to be made available online, through EduSAT and broadcast satellite television. Sakshat’s main aim is to aid digital literacy of both – the urban and rural learners and the teachers so that both are empowered with current knowledge. Under NMEICT, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has envisioned creation of digital libraries for learners with relevant reference books, papers, journals and other learning material to aid better education. The portal also aims to create a transparent database that profiles students, institutions, teachers, courses, to help facilitate matching talent with the requirement to enhance opportunities.
  • Digital Literacy for Teachers Empowerment to Help Bridge the Digital Divide- Undertake teacher-training program to equip them with know-how of working computer systems and other electronic devices to connect to the knowledge network. The training will be interactive and personalised through use of multimedia content. The dissemination of content will be through partners in government, NGOs, change agents and institutions that work with teachers.
  • Provide e-books and e-journals to learners- To promote education, access to different learning material is necessary. However, with the slow demise of the library culture and thereby facilities, students are being deprived of this access. To bridge this gap, NMEICT plans to create digital libraries.
  • Video Indexing and Chunking- At least 60,000 hours of video content is available between various government educational entities that haven’t been indexed nor chunked. The content needs to be digitized; while the work is manpower intensive, the mission is focusing on developing indexing tools to save time, avoid mistakes.
  • Evaluation of Content - In order to curate, create and streamline effective educational content, the mission aims to evaluate available digital content so that they can categorise and grade content for learners’ benefit along with comprehensive search facilities.
  • Support Research Projects with Financial Assistance- Financially support research projects that focus on development of low-cost access devices, enhance use of ICT in education, an ERP system for institutions of higher learning, edu-entertainment and gaming for knowledge enhancement, on-demand examination system, optimisation of bandwidth usage with technology and hardware.
  • Content Generation- Under this indicative, the National Programme in Technology Enhanced Learning Phase ii and iii (NPTEL) is envisioned to create online course content for science and engineering students through collaboration between the best academicians and colleges in the country by: creating a national video server for delivering video lectures and a powerful search engine for content.
  • Interconnectivity between colleges- While Sakshat presently has content in English language, NMEICT envisions creating a language converter tool kit to reach the content to more learners from across the country without a language barrier.
  • Developing Virtual Reality Labs-The Virtual Lab is envisioned to be a stimulation engine with powerful graphic frontend on a server to help students carry out ‘real-world’ experiment to trigger their imagination and inquisitiveness.
  • Adaptation of open source stimulation packages like MATLAB, ORCAD, AUTOCAD, circuit simulators, financial & statistical analysis packages etc.
  • Development of unified Enterprise Resource Package (ERP) system for Educational Institutions

 

There is ample scope for AI to help fulfil the following NMEICT objectives as suggested by industry experts, advisors of the MHRD as well as NITI Aayog:


  • tailor modules according to individual preferences, including that of physically challenged learners
  • help in creating intelligent systems for query-solving and evaluations of tests
  • undertake effective teacher-training
  • help in carrying out incentivised payment to researchers who publish high-quality papers in the platform’s e-journal
  • creating multilingual content with voice support and voice-enabled search queries
  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Package) and e-Governance for education.
  • Developing identification systems for learners and examiners
  • Development of virtual reality laboratories to support and facilitate e-learning, possibly through stimulation running
  • Setting up and up-scaling of web based portals for various crucial activities under the Mission 
Learn more about the Initiative

Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana (PMJDY)

The PMJDY is a scheme under the National Mission on Financial Inclusion for the impoverished citizens of India. It provides access to services of financial nature at affordable rates to boost financial inclusivity and encourage savings. The services accessible under the PMJDY are savings accounts, loan services, pension, insurance, etc. So far, almost 39 crore Jan Dan bank accounts have been opened. While no specific provision has been made for AI under PMJDY, there is ample scope for AI to aid this welfare scheme in the following ways as per the NITI Aayog and other industry experts:


  • Through utilising AI capabilities, the government can utilise better surveillance and detect fraud in record timings, helping the government have a more accurate state of the scheme.
  • AI-based solutions can be implemented for paperless Know Your Customer (e-KYC) by linking the Aadhar database.
  • AI can also help in educating account holders about the best practices and benefits of the Jan Dhan account to push for better financial inclusion and tackle the problem of keeping the accounts ‘live’.
  • By using the Aadhar linkage, AI can also help banks disburse loans to the Jan Dhan account holders at the competitive rate by assessing the credit-score of individuals by checking their saving and expenditure and other financial information.
  • AI-enabled intelligent bots can help banks engage with rural Jan Dhan account holders by breaking the language barrier and reaching the difficult areas that the programme currently faces difficulties in.
  • Better data analysis and real-time update will be available for the administrative monitoring. 
Learn more about the Initiative

SMART Cities

The Smart Cities Mission under the Digital India umbrella promotes conceptualisation and realisation of cities that have a strong basic infrastructure and promote sustainable. safe and inclusive development for its residents by availing clean, sustainable environment via application of ‘Smart’ solutions. As part of the initiative 99 cities have been selected to address issues of pollution, increasing crime rates, congestions, poor living standards by creating better administrative and infrastructural systems through new technological. 


AI can play an important role in converting ‘Smart Cities’ into ‘Intelligent Cities’ by making sense of the large amount of data that new technologies would generate to apply predictive intelligence and create better solutions. NITI Aayog has discussed the use of AI in smart cities in the following areas: 


  • Smart Parks and Facilities – AI-enabled monitoring and automated, remote-controlled systems such as pavement lighting, park maintenance, etc will aide in improved safety and accessibility and savings.
  • Smart Homes – While smart meters are already being installed at large scale for monitoring electricity and water consumption, AI can be introduced to other domestic functions such as smart rooftops, water saving applications for optimal use of water consumption in domestic chores
  • AI driven service delivery – As per citizen data, rationalisation of administrative personnel on the basis of predicted service demands, analysing migration trends AI will be implemented in applications like predictive service deliver and chat-bots for grievance redressal
  • Crowd management – In the 2019 Kumbh Mela, AI was used to experiment with crowd management to predict crowd behaviour with over 1,000 CCTV cameras to monitor movements across 32 sq. kms. Similar AI solutions along with Big Data analysis can be deployed across urban areas for better prediction and response management.
  • Intelligent safety systems – Potential crime incidents and the general safety of residents can be attempted to be averted with the use of state-of-art surveillance systems which are integrated to AI-enabled smart command centres. Social Media intelligence platforms that gather information from networking sites can also help in promoting public safety by predicting potentially threating activities against public safety. Surat has reported 27% drop in criminal rates after implementation of AI-enabled safety systems.
  • Cyber Attacks – AI technologies can be used to secure online platforms and protect sensitive data by identifying vulnerabilities and deploying remedial measures to reduce such exposure. 


Budget
Rs 6,450 crore for 2019-20

E-Pathshala

Under the aegis of NCERT, ePathshala is a platform to disseminate educational resources through mobile app and website. The NITI Aayog’s discussion paper outlines AI’s possible role in the platform in the following capacities:


  • Text-to-speech and text translation systems to aid easy availability of learning material across the diverse Indian languages as well encourage interoperability of teachers across states.  
Learn more about the Initiative

E-Prison

This project envisions digitisation and integration of all activities that are related to prison and prisoner management for jails through an application suite. The suite is developed by NIC as a cloud-based product designed to be a one-stop solution for citizens to digitally apply for visitation, note grievances, use a portal for buying goods created by prisoners, etc. For the prison management system, the project aids in surveillance and management of prisoners, administrative tasks, resource optimisation, etc. Instances of AI-enabled systems have already been implemented to address security concerns within prisons. The state of Uttar Pradesh has implemented an AI-based video analytics platform to identify violations and illegal activities and flag them to the officials for swift action. Currently the platform, named JARVIS, has been implemented across 70 prisons to monitor prisoners, crowd management, detecting breaches and unauthorised access. Punjab is in the process of implementing similar measures across several prisons across the state. 

Learn more about the Initiative

Farmer Portal

The portal is designed to be a one-stop destination to gain relevant information related to agriculture, risk management, animal husbandry, aquaculture, weather, programmes and schemes, etc. The NITI Aayog document on National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence charts out AI’s role in agriculture in the following ways:


  • Using image-recognition software, drone technology and machine learning to monitor crops, predict yields, encourage precision farming, stabilise yield, analyse soil quality, predict economic gains from future yields.
  • Predict advisories for weather, sowing, pest control, input control to help increase the farmer’s income
  • In addition, to these suggestions, AI-enabled voice-enabled chatbot for disseminating information may prove to be helpful.

Examples of AI-enabled technologies have been listed in the NITI Aagyog document that have shown success. AI-sowing app has been deployed successfully in Andra Pradesh and Karnataka amongst 3,000 farmers. AI-enabled precision farming has been implemented across Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. 

Learn more about the Initiative

Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN)

The GSTN manages the IT system of the GST portal and acts as the backbone of the GST system and acts as the core database for it. The network helps the government follow financial transactions and helps the tax-payers with GST registration, maintenance of tax details, etc. Although the official document make no mention of AI, during the Budget 2020 speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “…Deep data analytics and AI tools are being used to crackdown on GST input tax credit, refund and other frauds and to identify those trying to game the system. Invoice and input tax credit matching is being done wherein returns with mismatch of more than 10 per cent or above a threshold are identified and pursued.”


Budget
Rs 10 crore capital

Learn more about the Initiative

Khoya Paya

Khoya Paya is an initiative under Digital India to engage citizens to inform and exchange information on children who are missing and found. The platform is developed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development along with the Department of Electronics and Information technology where citizens can report missing and found children with the help of texts, photos, videos, and other means through smart phones. The Khoya Paya portal can be linked to the CCTNS project to help apprehend criminals as well as solve cases of missing minors. The proposed Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS), if approved, is going to be integrated in the Khoya Paya portal, along with the other security and safety solutions to ensure seamless exchange of information to avert and solve crimes, find missing persons and apprehend delinquents. The AFRS uses ‘neural networks’, an AI-enabled technology to search and match facial patterns. 

Learn more about the Initiative

Kisan Suvidha

The mobile application disseminates relevant information to farmers regarding weather, market prices, plant protection, inputs, weather alerts, go-downs and storages and market-related information such as conducive markets, market rates, quantity demands, etc. The NITI Aayog document on National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, envisions implementation of AI tools and big data analysis to bring more accurate information for supply and demand. An Inter-ministerial committee formed to recommend strategy to double farmers’ income by 2022 has also suggested emphasis on AI, big data analysis, block chain technology, IoT, etc.  

Learn more about the Initiative

National Knowledge Network (NKN)

The NKN is a pan-India network with an aim to help in connecting India’s universities, libraries, labs, research institutes across the country to improve inter-communication, stimulate research and create next-gen apps and services. In addition, NKN encourages connectivity of research and education networks between India and SAARC nations. It also facilitates collaboration between educational networks such as TEIN4, GARUDA, CERN and Internet2 to encourage exchange of scientific database and access to research facilities remotely.


The NITI Aayog document on National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence, envisions using NKN as a multi-tenant network as the basis to successfully execute AIRAWAT, (AI Research, Analytics and knoWledge Assimilation platform) The document argues to set-up a common cloud platform with AI computing infrastructure to connect NKN with all the Centres of Research Excellence in Artificial Intelligence (COREs) and International Centre for Transformational Artificial Intelligence (ICTAI), the two pools that will help boost core and applied research in AI since this approach will reduce infrastructural requirements due to pooling efficiencies and reduce operational and maintenance costs while keeping national data secure. 

Learn more about the Initiative

Online Labs (OLABS)

OLABS is a virtual learning platform, created to help students conduct over 130 virtual lab practical to grasp concepts in Chemistry, Physics, Biology from class 9 to 12, and lessons in English and Maths for class 9 and 10. The experiments are a mix of interactive stimulations, animations and lab videos which can be accessed anywhere. This platform is especially aimed to help students who live in geographically hard to reach areas who don’t have the infrastructure to support their onhand learning. The content is wide-ranged, serving curriculums from CBSE and State Boards.


The NITI Aayog document on National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence has identified opportunities to integrate AI into the education system. Although not explicitly stated, several of these components are also applicable to OLABS in the following ways:


  • Adaptive learning tools for customised learning
  • Intelligent and interactive tutoring systems 
Learn more about the Initiative

Project Monitoring Website for E-courts

E-court’s project monitoring website has been created to aid courts with automated decision-making and decision-support system. It has been implemented across thousands of courts in metros, state capitals and district courts. While the main objective of the project was to streamline administrative activities in courts, the eCourts project policy action plan document also envisions a larger vision for the judicial system of India. In phase III, utilisation of technologies such as migration of information to cloud has already started. In addition, the other technological innovations planned to be used are big data mining, and processing through block-chain technology and artificial intelligence. 

Learn more about the Initiative

Swachh Bharat App

Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (SBA) is a sanitation and cleanliness centric campaign which engages citizens with cleanliness initiatives as well as subsidised toilet construction scheme for the impoverished population of rural and urban India. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) created a pilot project to oversee the authenticity of the implementation of toilet construction under the SBA. The app uses AI to ascertain the beneficiary through facial recognition software and digitally affirming the state of toilets, and cross-checks photos with the GPS coordinates shared by the smartphones. 

Unified Mobile Application for New-age Governance (UMANG)

Developed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and National e-Governance Division (NeGD) to promote e-governance in India. It facilitates over 1,200 central and state e- services. The app is multi-lingual and accessible through smart-phones, tablets and desktops through SMS, IVRs. In 2018, the National e-Governance Division - Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology was seeking a partner to implement AI-based Chatbot and Voice Assistant module for the app. However, progress on the same is unknown. 

Learn more about the Initiative

AADHAR

Touted as the world’s largest biometric-based identification system, Aadhar is one of the core pillars of the Digital India mission. The unique identities issued under Aadhar is at the heart of social and financial inclusion, public services delivery, aiding to create better policies and reforms and creating a more transparent and automated governance for the people. This is possible through seamless integration of various databases along with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to aid facial recognition, voice-enabled chatbots and cloud-based systems. For example, the CCTNS, Khoya Paya app, PMJDY although fulfil different public services, they still use biometric identification to varying extend to fulfil these services.


Most recently, the Income Tax department has suggested the creation of a Public Sector Bank network to validate the identify of a loan seeker via Aadhar and other public records to ascertain credit scores and eligibility. Although public documents have not explicitly outlined the use of AI for Aadhar, it is safe to say that AI forms an integral part of the Aadhar system. The legally murky grounds also are hindering Aadhar’s full roll-out. 

Learn more about the Initiative

NASSCOM lead Centre for Excellence for Internet of Things (COE-IT)

As part of Digital India, the COE-IT is set-up to encourage the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem by creating path-breaking application and domain expertise. To accomplish this, the centre will work alongside the start-up community and leverage India’s IT strengths. The centre has also started an initiative called AI for Enterprise to showcase cases of successful adoption of AI solutions to overcome challenges across enterprises. NASSCOM helps these enterprises amplify their success stories, create industry linkages and create a bigger circle of reach for AI solutions. 

Learn more about the Initiative

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)

The CERT-In is an initiative by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY). It is the National Incident Response Centre that looks out for Indian cyber security. CERT-In has three roles:


  • Raise awareness about cyber security and provide technical assistance to combat India’s cyber security concerns
  • Provide System Administrators and users with technical advice to respond to cyber security incidents. It also closely watches trends for intruder activities in cooperation with other institutions and organisations.
  • Releases research, guidelines, advisories, best practices and other technical documents related to security awareness.

The NITI Aayog’s discussion paper does raise concerns over cyber security with the raise in the number of connected devices, and how such an attack can affect a city-scale infrastructure and public systems. The paper also turns to AI as the possible solution to combat such attacks, suggest remedial measures and detect vulnerabilities to secure online platforms. The soon to be released National Cyber Security Strategy 2020 is bound to have AI centric component. 

Learn more about the Initiative

COMMON SERVICE CENTRES (CSCs)

The initiative, Common Services Centres Scheme (CSCs),a CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd (CSC PVP) undertaking, is designed to be the access point for citizens in rural and remote areas to receive subsidies, perform bank transactions, apply for and request services of public utility, and use the platform for healthcare and education. According to a press statement in May 2019, CSC has been attempting to leverage the power of AI and data analytics to improve their services in partnership with NEC Technologies India (NECTI), a subsidiary of the Japanese company, NEC Corporation. In the press statement, Dr. Dinesh Kumar Tyagi, CEO, CSC SPV said that “Education, financial inclusion and telemedicine are the areas where innovative technologies can be utilised to improve the quality of life for people living in rural India."

Learn more about the Initiative

Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

GeM is an e-marketplace initiative by the National Public Procurement Portal that enables government departments and public sector entities to procurement common use goods and services. The users of this marketplace are state and central government ministries and departments, public sector undertakings, local bodies and autonomous institutions. In 2017, the platform announced that the platform was going to be integrated with artificial intelligence and analytics for better service delivery. While the official documents make no mention of using AI to augment GeM’s reach, Dr Rajesh Narang, CTO, GeM stated that, “The vision of GeM is also to use Artificial Intelligence to bring in cognitive computing capabilities to automate human decisions making process. GeM is already using Live ChatBot, aim is to use AI Assistants for automating repetitive tasks requiring human judgement, Voice and Image recognition techniques allowing GeM users to search products and services just by voicing over and with the help of images of products.”

Learn more about the Initiative

IRCTC Connect

IRCTC Connect is an e-ticketing application to help passengers book tickets for the Indian Railways online. In 2018, IRCTC launched an AI-enabled chatbot called ‘Ask Disha’ in English and Hindi to help solve text-based queries and voice-based queries of users. 

Learn more about the Initiative

Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS)

CCTNS is a project under National e-Governance Plan of the Govt of India. It aims at creating a system that is comprehensively integrated to enhance the efficiency of policing through a creation of a nation-wide networking infrastructure for the evolution of IT-enabled highly efficient tracking system around the investigation and detection of crimes and criminals.


Until 2019 July, almost 15,000 police stations have been included into the CCTNS and a total of 20.10 crore criminal/ crime records have available online along with corresponding databases on prisons, prosecution, forensics and courts in a holistic manner for administration. This is aimed to help expedite exchange of information across police departments of all 35 states/ UT and delivering better services to citizens. Several states have reported positive feedback in solving various types of complaints due to the cross-pollinated database. 


THE NCRB compendium released on 29/10/2018 especially mentions the requirement for AI-based tools to provide criminal data analysis of the CCTNS database. AI-based tools such as neural networks will prove to be effective for the proposed Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS). While various countries have been at an experimentation stage, only a few countries such as China have been able to successfully implement it. The scheme also faces challenges such as converting data from various languages which can be addressed by AI-based tools. 


Budget
The NCRB has placed proposals for sanction of funds worth Rs 1,979 crores from Ministry of Home Affairs

Learn more about the Initiative

People

MeitY (Digital India)

Ravi Shankar Prasad, by profession, is an Indian lawyer, politician and the current Union Minister retaining the Law and Justice, Communications and Electronics and Information Technology portfolios in the Government of India.

MeitY

Ajay Prakash Sawhney, an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and a mechanical engineer by education, is an IAS officer of Andhra Pradesh cadre. He presently serves as the Secretary to the Government of India.