Government of Kerala has launched Bridging the Digital Divide – Vision 2020 that aims to bridge the digital divide in the state by 2020 and make it the country’s first digitally literate state.
Key objectives of the initiative include achieving sustainable economic growth, making accessible the digital infrastructure to all at affordable cost, attracting more investments and promoting the IT export of the state.
Vision 2020 also aims to ensure that various e-services offered by the government are availed by the people and achieve social harmony and high quality of life for all, with inclusion of disadvantaged sections of society, said P K Kunhalikutty, Minister for Industries and IT.
The initiative has the potential to ensure willful participation of all sections of the society, which, in turn, would prevent the less privileged from getting marginalized, the Minister said. It also aims at promoting entrepreneurship and generating more employment opportunities for the youth.
“Our goal is to make Kerala a 100 per cent e-literal and digital state and plan, develop and market it as the most preferred IT/ITES investment destination in the country,” said P H Kurian, principal secretary, Industries and IT, Government of Kerala.
Some of the initiatives that contributed for the digital evolution of Kerala include Akshaya Project, [email protected] project, digital infrastructure availability, and State Data Centre and allied applications.
Launched in 2002, the Akshaya Project opened the doors of digital literacy to at least one member in each family. The project so far made e- literate 33 lakh out of nearly 75 Lakhs households, the Minister said.
The [email protected] initiative, also launched in 2002, aims to make more than four lakh students graduating from schools every year a computer literate. The project has so far turned more than 39 lakhs students spread around 12,600 schools of Kerala with high level of computer literacy.
In another major initiative in the education sector, Kerala became the first state in the country to introduce Digital Collaborative Texts (DCTs) under IT @ School. DCTs comprise information contributed by persons around the globe in audio or video formats, besides the scanned copy of normal text books. Over 3.7 million students and about more than two lakh teachers in the government-run schools are to benefit from this project.
To strengthen the digital infrastructure in the state, the state government has roped in leading telecom players such as BSNL., Reliance, Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Tata Communications. The state has a vast optical fibre cable (OFC) coverage, making it one of the top states in India in terms of OFC network capacity.
BSNL contributed majority of its OFC network covering 20,000 km, followed by Reliance (8500 km), and other major players being Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Tata (nearly 3225 km put together).
With rising digital literacy among people and availability of digital infrastructure, there was a rising demand to deliver services through Akshaya Centres. To meet the demand, the government has now built more than 80 e-Governance applications and established a State Data Centre.
Apart from the existing projects, the Government of Kerala plans to launch new initiatives to achieve ‘Vision 2020’. These include Bharat Net Mobile Governance, a project of the Central government that aims to establish a scalable network infrastructure by 2017 to provide on demand, affordable broadband connectivity of 2 Mbps to 20 Mbps to all households and institutions.
Another initiative, ‘Mobile-Governance’ (M-Governance) aims to deliver government services through a single Mobile application. The government also plans to make its offices paper-less in 2015-2016, which will increase efficiency and transparency in file movements.
The government also plans to provide Wi-Fi hot spots in government schools. Those who live near schools can access Wi-Fi free.
Under Digital Literacy – Phase II, various programs implemented by multiple agencies in the direction of achieving digital literacy in the state will be organized under a common umbrella program “Digital Literacy to Masses in Kerala.” Rajani Baburajan