Indian Prime Minister Modi will be completing a year the office tomorrow that was won over many promises and claims to change the face of this nation within the 5 year tenure. Let’s throw a look back into the year that just passed by and see to what level these promises have been delivered in the true sense in the area of tech, and digital demographics.
1 No Relaxation of FDI in eCommerce
The Government is in a constant denial for relaxing Foreign Direct Investment norms for eCommerce companies. Apparently, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is not in favour of allowing FDI in business-to-consumer (B2C) segment of the eCommerce sector at present as it wants to channelize resources on building of “physical infrastructure for boosting the manufacturing activities by the local (Indian) players”.
The Prime Minister himself has expressed his desire of making India a manufacturing hub and allowing FDI in online retail on some occasions, and evidently the government believes, it can be achieved by keeping international best practices for retailing at bay.
2 Startup Investment Fund of Rs 1,000 crore
Arun Jaitley in his maiden budget, announced startup investment funds of Rs 1000 crore which will be biased to the tech sector. The news made many a hands clap back then, but it hasn’t been converted to concrete result yet. How the funds will be used, how to apply for them and how will the entire mechanism work hasn’t been cleared out until now.
3 The Government Going Online
It won’t be wrong to say that no politician uses social media and internet to his advantage better than PM Modi. His infatuation with internet and the possibilities it comes with,can be evident with his steps in that direction.
Modi has launched a website by his own name www.narendramodi.com to keep people updated on his works and ideas wherein presence of almost every leader of the ruling party on social networking platforms can be felt (eg.- Sushma Swaraj, Smriti Irani, Prakash Javedkar).
The Government has launched online services to obtain Birth Certificate, Caste Certificate, Tribe Certificate, Domicile Certificate, Driving Licence, Marriage Certificate, Death Certificate, and also to apply for PAN Card, TAN Card, Ration Card, Passport etc.
4 Future Plans for Internet
The Prime minister intends to make internet accessible for everyone in the country.
“Our Government is committed to expand the Information Technology to every village in the country. This project aims at digital empowerment of people of rural areas. This will be a game changer,” Union Minister for Communications & IT Ravi Shankar Prasad quoted regarding the issue.
The government had announced plans to launch free high-speed Wi-Fi in 2,500 in Indian towns and cities over a span of three years. This Rs 7000 crore plan was to be carried out by BSNL throughout the nation. However, no conspicuous development have been made on this scene either.
According to the target set by the Government of India for 2014-15, 50,000 villages were to be connected through a national optic fibre network by the end January. Modi had pledged to build I-ways and highways in his Independence day address. And soon after publicly announcing his plans, he had set well-defined targets for ministries in charge of physical connectivity (ports, airports, railways, roads), digital connectivity (telecom) and energy (power and renewable energy ministries).
No recent update on that that has been highlighted by the government. However, as of February 2015, only 12% of the target had been achieved.
6 Railways and eCommerce
Indian Railways has to be the sector with most tech activities being carried out since the new government took charge.
- The Railways launched a mobile app for passengers to post their complaints.
- Bangalore station became India’s first wi-fi equipped railway station and the Railways increased their budget to provide wi-fi in trains.
- The Railways is also working on a policy to become official logistics partner of eRetailing giants such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal.
- Restrictions and new policies are made for online ticket booking.
- IRCTC tied up with amazon to let the eRetailer sell its products on its portal.
7 32 Websites Banned and Later Reprised Last year
The Department of Telecom issued a notice to the Internet Service Providers in India to block a total of 32 miscellaneous websites in their networks, including Vimeo, Dailymotion and Github on 31st December, 2014. The reason wasn’t specified but possible spread of terrorism was cited as one of it.
The websites were later reprised and unblocked on 1st January, 2015.
8 Net Neutrality Issue
Net Neutrality is a principle which advocates that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging deferentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.
The IT act of 2000, does not prohibit companies from throttling their service in accordance with their business interests. Airtel, a major internet service provider decided to take advantage of the situation by charging differently for popular websites and websites. Thus, an online petition went viral a few days ago demanding complete net neutrality in India.
The Modi government and TRAI haven’t taken a stand on the issue yet, neither formed any law or amendment for the same.
9 Change in Investor’s sentiment
When the Modi government took charge, foreign Investments flooded the nation via funding of eRetailers Flipkart, Snapdeal along with the funding of Paytm from China. But as time passed the investor’s momentum seems to have slowed down. The domestic investors have been active in investing at seed and early stages of Indian startups but there is a decline in foreign investments.
The reason for this maybe the new policies or lack of revenue generation in these companies, but desperation can be sensed in the market as Flipkart (India’s largest eRetailer) raised debt funding for the first time.
The promises and initiatives taken by the government can have a great impact on the nation, provided the tasks are being completed and managed as per the plans. The Modi government still has four years to go and we expect ‘Achhe din’ for tech, startup and eCommerce segments too.
As PM Modi’s First year officially ended, the opposition (Congress) posted this video to question the governance of the BJP