Telecom and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government aims to make at least 50% of the Indian population digitally literate in 3 years, from the current 15%. Prasad added that India needed 100% digital literacy to make it a digitised society.
He said that the world was watching developments in the country and that it was the ‘responsibility of the youth to live up to those expectations’. Prasad added that more than 4,000 innovators had come to India to explore IT and electronics manufacturing, and ‘knowledge economy’ and government initiatives will drive the change.
Quiz and awareness for students
The government had held an online quiz on cyber safety and cyber awareness in July last year, in collaboration with Intel. In this, around 10 lakh students had participated from all Indian states and Union Territories and before the winners were awarded, the government conducted a workshop on cyber safety and awareness, cyber bullying, social media misuse, identity theft, hacking, mobile crime, e-fraud etc.
Digital/computer saksharta mission
During the same time, PM Modi had announced the Digital India week which included a website for National digital literacy mission: The website claimed that at that time, around 280,000 people are undergoing training and around 114,000 people who have been trained under 367 training partners. As of now, the website states that 4,603,154 have enrolled for training and 3,349,154 have been trained under 1,846 training partners. It also states that the country has 1,241,585 certified candidates, of which a majority is government candidates (1,240,803) and the rest are corporate (1126) and industry candidates (980).
MSCIT courses: In 2002, the state of Maharashtra introduced an IT literacy course called MS-CIT, which was a uniform and recognised way to gain computer literacy in a short time for a low cost. The government claims that over 95 lakh people have taken its courses to date.
The government’s ambitious plan is to be lauded, but let’s not forget that the literacy rate in the states of Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh is well below the country’s 74%. It makes sense for the government to hold digital literacy programs in the more literate states, while pushing hard for literacy in the less literate states in order to prevent discrepancy and inequality. India already reads the most (10.42 hours every week) according to the NOP World Culture Score Index, whereas countries like the US, where the definition of literacy is ambiguous, end up reading only half of that. Capitalising on this will also increase the country’s rank in the Human Development Index.