The government’s ambitious digital literacy initiative touched barely 1.67 percent of the population as the three joint flagship programs were hit by roadblocks, including severe fund crises.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has proposed a series of measures to speed up the National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM).
In January 2019 report, Anurag Thakur, chaired by members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegates, noted that by October 2018, the three digital literacy programs had only covered 2 million people against a target of 6.5 million people.
The panel expressed concern that targets in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Goa, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep are far away. The panel noted that the NDLM was rolled out in March 2014 to train 10 lakh citizens in select districts.
Another program – “Digital Saksharta Abhiyan” (DISHA) – was launched in 2014 with the goal of reaching 42.50 lakh, followed by “Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan” (PMGDISHA) in February 2017 with a special focus on coverage 6 crore rural households until March 2019.
The secretary of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) informed the panel that the target for PMGDISHA in the last two years was 3 crore. When the program was announced, the time for the budget had expired. In the second year, Rs 1,175 crore was allocated, but only Rs 50 crore was released.
The ministry fetched Rs 50 crore from another head and made it Rs 100 crore. This year, the ministry received Rs 400 crore and another Rs 38 crore from another program. The ministry informed the panel that lack of awareness of the benefits of digital literacy and training infrastructure were reasons for missing goals.
“Digital literacy is defined as the ability of individuals and communities to understand and use digital technologies for meaningful actions in life situations, and any person who can use computer/laptop/tablet/smartphone and other IT-related tools is considered digital literate, “the report said.