In the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto, the use of the word technology outnumbered the total pages of the document (50), indicating the party’s focus. The party’s prime minister-elect, Narendra Modi, is regarded as one of the most technology-savvy politicians in recent times.
Though the party’s pre-poll promises include increasing the focus on technology, this isn’t a new idea.
The manifesto reiterates plans and ideas that have either been discussed already or are under implementation.
“The country doesn’t really need new ideas for technology,” said Subho Ray, president of the Internet and Mobile Association of India.
Through the last few years, the major challenge for industry has been implementation.
“Only if some good administrators were to implement these plans will these make a difference of hell and heaven in India.” Neel Ratan, executive director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said, “The more important point is execution. “I think probably, this is the strength of the man (Narendra Modi) -- execution of projects . . .
“All they (BJP) have outlined in the agenda on the technology front are not impossible to do.
“It is feasible, as long as focus on execution remains. Probably, Gujarat is an example where they have successfully executed the number of complex infrastructure projects.”
BJP’s manifesto mentions an increase in digital literacy and internet penetration.
The party plans to upgrade infrastructure in courts, the police and jails, among others; it is also expected to take the lead in a surge in technology spending.
Some ambitious promises include setting up a national optical fibre network up to the village level to provide seamless broadband connectivity and higher penetration of Wi-Fi facilities in public places and commercial centres.
While the United Progressive Alliance government had started work on the fibre-optic network several years ago,
The BJP manifesto also speaks about pursuing a project under the National Rural Internet and Technology Mission for use of telemedicine and mobile healthcare in rural areas.
The party also promises to promote job creation by promoting manufacturing in electronics; a boost in self-employment by fostering entrepreneurship; and tacking corruption by increasing technology-enabled e-governance, which would also lead to better delivery of services to citizens.
Almost all these measures have been focus areas of the past government.
“If you look at either good governance or employment as an agenda, both have a significant information, communication and technology component for adoption in the country.
“I presume the good part is ICT will be more outcome-centric and governance-centric, rather than ICT-centric per se,” said Ratan of PwC.
N Chandrasekaran, chief executive and managing director of Tata Consultancy Services, said as the elections had delivered a decisive and strong mandate, he was “extremely positive things will pick up in India much sooner. . . I expect the new government will adopt technology very significantly.
“So, I expect a lot more growth, though these are still early days”.
Ray of IAMAI said important steps that didn’t find a place in the BJP manifesto included junking archaic laws that governed the technology space in favour of relevant legislation.
- Develop manufacturing and electronics assembly to spur job creation
- Promote technology enabled e-governance to eliminate scope for corruption
- Make every household and every individual digitally empowered
- Deployment of broadband in every village would be a thrust area
- Cover every government office, from the Centre to the panchayats
- Wi-Fi should be made available in public places and commercial centres
- Provide tax incentives for investments in R&D, geared towards indigenisation of technology and innovation
- Promote e-Bhasha -- National Mission for the promotion of IT in Indian languages