Digital A, B, C: How PMGDISHA Is Working To Increase Digital Literacy In India

Digital A, B, C: How PMGDISHA Is Working To Increase Digital Literacy In India

by Dhairya Roy - May 6, 2019 12:17 PM +05:30 IST
Digital A, B, C: How PMGDISHA Is Working To Increase Digital Literacy In IndiaAn agriculturist uses the internet in rural Maharashtra (Satish Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
  • Because if digital is the way forward for India, its people must be at ease with digital communications and transactions.

The world is undergoing a digital revolution, and India, which is home to more than one-seventh of the world’s population, plays a key role in the digital future of our planet. After the Industrial Revolution, the world is now witnessing a Digital Revolution. Nations around the globe are observing a shift from mechanical and analogue systems to digital systems.

Businesses and companies have started growing in e-commerce through expansive social media advertising, digital advertising and e-payments. Adoption of digital computers, and most recently, smartphones, have created digital identities of virtually every person on the planet. India needs to not only keep up, but also surpass other nations in digital technology, to keep advancing to become a superpower.

Key Statistics About Digital Use In The World

• Total Population: 7.6 Billion

• Urbanisation: 56 per cent

• Unique mobile users: 5.1 Billion

• World internet penetration: 67 per cent

• Internet users: 4.3 Billion

• Active social media users: 3.4 Billion

• Mobile social media users: 3.2 Billion

It is estimated that 4.68 billion people in the world own a mobile phone in 2019. That is more than half of the world population. More than a third of them are on social media. This indicates a massive shift towards digital technology, and one which cannot be ignored any longer. Internet users are increasing 21 per cent year-on-year, roughly by 98 million yearly.

The average daily time spent using the internet is 7 hours and 47 minutes. As much as 61 per cent of the world population uses the internet daily, while 26 per cent use the internet at least once a week. Internet penetration is estimated to cross 829 million in 2021. The digital advertising market itself is estimated to be worth $ 3.52 billion.

Key Statistics About Digital Literacy In India

• Total Population: 1.3 Billion

• Urbanisation: 34 per cent

• Mobile subscriptions: 1.2 Billion

• Internet penetration: 41 per cent

• Internet users: 560 Million

• Active Social media users: 310 Million

• Mobile social media users: 290 Million

While developed countries have transformed digitally, the same cannot be said about developing nations. While North America and Europe have more than 95 per cent internet penetration, the figure falls down to just 42 per cent in the South Asian region. India is one such nation that has just 41 per cent internet penetration.

As per the NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation) Survey on Education in 2014, only 6 per cent of rural households had access to a computer. This highlights that more than 15 crore rural households do not have computers and a significant number of them are likely to be digitally illiterate. While many of them might not have access to a computer, they are more likely to have access to a mobile phone and the internet.

Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan (PMGDISHA) Initiative

To increase the Digital Literacy rate in India, Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan (PMGDISHA) was launched as an integral part of the ‘Digital India’ initiative. The vision of this scheme is to make at least one person in every household digitally literate, and train them to operate digital devices such as Tablets, Smartphones et cetera.

Training includes sending and receiving emails, browsing the internet and making digital payments. The training is to be provided free of cost, for people between 14 and 60 years of age, for a duration of 20 hours across a minimum of 10 days, to a maximum of 30 days, using official languages of India as a medium of instruction.

PMGDISHA aims to bridge the digital divide, specifically targeting the rural population. This entails ensuring high-speed internet access for all, though a secure ecosystem.

PMGDISHA was allocated Rs 100 crore in 2017-18, Rs 438 crore in 2018-19 and Rs 400 crore in 2019-20. The total outlay for this project so far has been Rs. 2,351 crore.

The aim of PMGDISHA is to reach 6 crore people by 2019.

Implementation of PMGDISHA

To create awareness about the scheme, the implementing agency i.e. CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd. has conducted 34 state-level workshops and 461 district-level workshops across the country. They have empanelled 81,930 training centres so far for beneficiaries.

The government has partnered with NASSCOM Foundation, IndusInd Bank, Intel, Dainik Bhaskar Group, HP and PayPal to mobilise financial resources, seek volunteering, monitor quality delivery and setting up training centres. The United Nations Educational Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is mobilising education infrastructure for the purpose and is building scientific cooperation as well. Civil society organisations such as Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) and IT for Change are also pitching in.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between C-DAC centres and CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd. for jointly conducting online remote proctored examinations for learners trained under the PMGDISHA.

Targets (in terms of number of people) were set to impart digital education across India. Year-wise details are below:

• FY 2016-17: 25 lakh

• FY 2017-18: 275 lakh

• FY 2018-19: 300 lakh

Further, 2.5 lakh gram panchayats were expected to register 200-300 students each.

Benefits of PMGDISHA To Users

By the end of this module, the learner will be able to do the following online:

• Search for education-, career- and job-related information;

• Search for weather forecasts, fishing zones, market prices, government schemes, farming equipment et cetera.

• Make utility bill payments online (electricity, mobile, water bills)

• Book train and bus tickets online

• Locate government information and schemes

• Explain the process of accessing various government schemes

• Carry out at least five cashless transactions using digital financial tools such as: USSD/UPI/eWallet/AEPS/Card/PoS),

• Promote digital payments

• Use digital locker

• Use online citizen services

• Appreciate the role of digital technology in everyday life, in social life and at work

Training under PMGDISHA

The training under PMGDISHA has been divided into two parts, namely Level 1 and Level 2.

• Level 1 – Appreciation of digital literacy

• Level 2 – Basics of digital literacy

In both levels, the necessary training and skill is provided regarding using digital devices, sending and receiving emails and using the internet. The course is covered in approximately 20 hours within 10-30 days. Candidates must be non-IT literate with a minimum VII-standard pass to be eligible for this course.

For the second level, the necessary training and skill is provided through access services by e-governance and other sites. The duration of the course is 40 hours and will be covered within 20-60 days. The only eligibility requirement for this course is the candidate must be non-IT literate and VIII standard pass.

As it stands today

Until 2017-18, 1.05 crore candidates were registered and 52 lakh were certified. As on 28 February 2018, under the PMGDISHA scheme, more than 1.09 crore candidates had been enrolled, out of which more than 1.08 crore have been trained and more than 54 lakh certified.

As a direct result of this, Bihar registered the highest growth in internet users across both urban and rural areas, registering a growth of 35 per cent over the last year. Internet users will also cross 627 Million in 2019 in India.

Since 2014, the focus of the central government has been on improving digital literacy across the country. This ambitious programme is envisaged to continue so that India transforms into a digitally empowered society and a leading global, knowledge economy. To enable this movement, the two important mantras invoked to drive this change remain “access” and “training.”

Dhairya Roy is Alumnus of Columbia Business School and New York University. He is also the Ex-Project Office Head in the Ministry of Finance, Planning & Forests (Government of Maharashtra) and is currently Vice President and Head of Corporate Affairs for a Fortune 500 Firm.
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