Lok Sabha Election 2019: BJP's scorecard based on promises made in 2014 manifesto on IT and e-governance, has been mostly positive

BJP may not have achieved 100 percent results, but some work in each area related to information technology and e-governance has been done as promised by the party

The BJP manifesto of 2014 mentioned that information technology (IT) is a great enabler for empowerment, equity and efficiency. It also mentioned that e-governance would become the backbone for good governance. The manifesto listed a number of promises with respect to Information Technology and e-Governance. It has been five years since and we are just a week away from the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. So, let's take a look at all the promises that were made before 2014 elections and what is the situation on the ground, five years later.

The first promise of BJP was making every household and every individual digitally empowered. The NDA Government approved a scheme titled “Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA)” in February 2017 to usher in digital literacy in rural India by covering 6 crore rural households (one person per household) in the age group of 14-60 years at a total outlay Rs 2,351.38 crore (approx.). A total of around 1.60 crore candidates have been trained so far out of which more than 85.97 lakh candidates have been duly certified. That's around 26 percent of success rate.

Lok Sabha Election 2019: BJPs scorecard based on promises made in 2014 manifesto on IT and e-governance, has been mostly positive

Representational image of BJP flag. Reuters

The second promise in the BJP manifesto was to focus on increasing the penetration and usage of broadband across the country. Deployment of broadband in every village was the thrust area. Broadband has been laid to connect villages but last mile connectivity still remains an issue. The government has laid 3,01,154 km Optical Fibre Cable (OFC); a total of 1,21,652 Gram Panchayats (GPs) have been connected by OFC and OFC laying & equipment installation has been completed at 1,16,411 GPs, which are Service Ready.

The third promise was around leveraging technology for e-Governance and engage proactively with the people through social media for participative governance and effective public grievance redressal mechanism. The participation of people in governance has been started through mygov portal but it is too small with respect to the size of the country. It has 79,43,500 registered members which is a minuscule number as compared to the population of the country.

Another promise was to generate IT based jobs in rural and semi-urban areas. Herein the number of total employees in FY 2015-16 were nearly 36,90,000. The number of employees has nearly become 39,68,000 in FY 2017-18, an addition of 1,05,000, from 38,63,000 in FY 2016-17. Besides, government initiatives such as Common Service Centres (CSCs), BPO Promotion schemes, Electronic Manufacturing, Digital Payments and Digital Saksharta Abhiyaan have generated over 13 lakh additional jobs. In 2014, there were only two factories manufacturing mobiles but now 118 factories are manufacturing mobiles.

The fifth promise was to use technology to reduce the burden of books on children. Make all institutions and schools e-enabled in a phased manner. Digital learning and training to be used extensively. The government launched various schemes which include ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM), SWAYAM PRABHA, National Digital Library (NDL), e-Pathshala, Shagun Portal, National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER), ICT in KVs, Operation Digital Board.

Another promise was of building 100 new cities, enabled with the latest in technology and infrastructure. A total of 5,151 projects worth Rs 2,05,018 crore have been included by the selected 100 cities in their Smart City proposals. So far, Rs 13,846.20 crore has been released to state governments/union territories (UTs) under the mission. As on 30 November, 2018 around 2,342 projects worth Rs 90,929 crore have been tendered, of which 1,675 projects worth Rs 51,866 crore are under implementation/have been completed. The pace of implementation of projects has picked up significantly during the last one year. There has been a 290 percent increase in projects tendered, 332 percent increase in projects grounded/completed and 479 percent increase in projects completed since October 2017.

Seventh promise of the BJP in its manifesto was to evolve into a single 'National Agriculture Market'. The government has implemented the National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) scheme which is  an online virtual trading platform to provide farmers with opportunity for transparent price discovery for remunerative prices for their produce through a competitive online bidding system. So far, 585 wholesale regulated markets of 16 States and 2 UTs have been integrated with the e-NAM platform.

The eighth promise of the party was to set up the 'National e-Health Authority'. The authority is being set up as a statutory body for promotion/adoption of e-Health standards, to enforce privacy and security measures for electronic health data, and to regulate storage and exchange of Electronic Health Records. A draft legislation regarding Electronic Health Data, Privacy and Security covering comprehensive legal framework to protect ‘e-health data’ of an ‘individual’ including the setting up of National e-health Authority as an enforcing nodal body is being prepared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The ninth promise of BJP was to promote e-Bhasha i.e., National Mission for the promotion of IT in Indian Languages. As early as November 2014 e-Bhasha was adopted as a mission mode project. The government through Indian Language Technology Proliferation and Development Centre launched Indian language search engine, Localisation project management system, Mobile-based machine translation system, Web OCR for Indian languages, Indian language machine translation tool and Indian language wordnet.

The government has also worked on the digitisation of archives which was its another promise. In the first phase, a project for preparation of digital images of 11 lakh pages and developing a web-based retrieval tool for private papers had been completed. Preparation of digital image of 19,80,000 pages and converting the same into analog images in microfilms has been completed. All records are digitised in a searchable format. Once digitised, the same are uploaded on the online search portal of National Archives of India.

The next promise of BJP was mandating digitisation of all government work to reduce corruption and delays. The government launched e-office project for the same. E-office is one of the important Mission Mode Projects (MMP) of the government of India. E-filing of documents, creation/updation of files and its tracking is part of e-office. The project is still underway and it will take some time to deliver the results.

Another promise of the BJP with respect to information technology was using mobile and e-Banking to ensure financial inclusion. The digital transactions in April 2016 were 65.08 crores which rose to 202.18 crores in March 2018. The government of India has been working with various stakeholders including Ministries, Departments, States, Smart Cities, Banks and Payment Service Providers to promote digital payment transactions.

So, in a way, the party did some work on each and every aspect it listed in its manifesto of 2014. It may not have achieved 100 percent results, but some work in each area related to information technology and e-governance has been done as promised by the party.

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