The Fifteenth Finance Commission headed by Chairman, Shri N.K. Singh today held a meeting with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) on “Harnessing India’s Digital Opportunity”. A detailed presentation on this was made by the Secretary, MeitY, Shri Ajay Prakash Sawhney. It may be recalled that as per the Terms of Reference of the Commission, the Commission is required to make recommendations on such matters:
“Commission shall have regard to the demands on the resources of the Central Government particularly on account of defense, internal security, infrastructure, railways, climate change, commitments towards the administration of UTs without a legislature, and other committed expenditure and liabilities.”The Ministry held in its presentation that the world economy was getting increasingly digital, and it detailed the disruptive potential of digital technology which is accelerating transition Elaborating on the digital profile of India, the Commission was briefed by Ministry that India was standing on the verge of a trillion dollar digital opportunity. It was stressed that large scale digital transformation is possible, however, India can and must prepare for it.
In its Memorandum to the Commission, MeitY has made some specific suggestions-
The Digital India programme requires unprecedented IT capability for States/ UTs to achieve its objectives and transforms India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The continuation of the ICT infrastructure and capacity building schemes is vital for States/ UTs to build ICT capability towards the implementation of the ‘Digital India’ programme. It has asked for allocation of funds for these projects.
As the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is not a Centrally Sponsored Scheme any more, the Ministry has asked for separate funds for the NeGP Scheme.
It has proposed continuous Union support for funding under CSS the implementation of the core ICT infrastructure such as State Data Centres (SDC), State Wide Area Network (SWAN), State Service Delivery Gateway (SSDG), e-Districts etc.
The Ministry has also asked the Commission to consider the following criteria while allocation of resources and proposing performance based incentives to States.
The Commission assured MeitY that it would be taken into consideration all the issues raised by the Ministry in making its final recommendations.