India to invest $1.79B to expand digital ecosystemIndia to invest $1.79B to expand digital ecosystem
Indian government expands Digital India plan and will invest $1.79 billion by 2026.
August 22, 2023
The Indian government announced the expansion of the existing Digital India plan with an investment outlay of INR149 billion ($1.79 billion) spread over five years from 2021-22 to 2025-26. Key focus areas are reskilling, cybersecurity, startups and promoting the use of Indian languages.
Launched in 2015, Digital India is an umbrella program for several e-governance initiatives, including Bharat Broadband Network (BBN) for rural broadband connectivity, Common Service Centers (CSC) and Bharat Interface For Money (BHIM), among others.
The announcement comes at a time when the country is gearing for a general election, which will take place next year. “It will boost our digital economy, provide better access to services and strengthens our IT ecosystem,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on social media after the announcement. Over the last few years, the Indian government has launched several initiatives to promote a digital way of life.
As part of the expanded scheme, the government will invest in reskilling and upskilling 256,000 IT professionals under the Future Skills program. It will also train 265,000 people in Information Security under the Information, Security and Education Awareness phase program. There is an increasing need to retrain people in fields such as IT because advancing AI and automation may render many positions in other fields redundant.
Supercomputers, AI and cybersecurity
Apart from training and reskilling, the funds will also be used to expand the scope of the Bhashini program to 22 languages. Bhashini is an AI-enabled translation tool and is currently available in 10 Indian languages. The program was conceived with the aim to provide “all Indians easy access to the internet and digital services in their own languages and increase the content in Indian languages.”
In addition, a part of the funds will also be used to fund 1,200 startups in Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns and cities. The government will also launch a cybersecurity awareness program for cybersecurity targeting 120 million people.
Another chunk of the funding will go toward adding nine supercomputers to the 18 already deployed as part of the National Supercomputing Mission. Some of the money will also be used to set up three centers of excellence for research around the use of artificial intelligence in healthcare, agriculture and sustainable living.
— Gagandeep Kaur, Contributing Editor, special to Light Reading
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