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E-Governance and its Future in India

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While digitization is not uncommon in the Indian scenario, it was given another dimension by the Government of India with its Digital India campaign. One of the many aims of the campaign is to make the government services available digitally to all the citizens of India. Carrying official documents in hand, losing them sometimes, and physically following up with the authorities until they reissue the documents are a thing of the past. Today, we can carry our documents digitally, and it is just the tip of the iceberg. It's pretty evident that the benefits of E-Governance seeds are ready to be reaped.

In 2014, right after it was formed, the new government launched 'MyGov,' an innovative platform that builds a connection between citizens and the government with the help of technology. Through this platform, the government encourages citizen participation in governance by seeking their ideas, suggestions, and grassroots-level contributions. Citizens can participate in this unique initiative of nation-building. For the very first time in the history of this country, citizens from across India came together to share their expert thoughts, ideas, and suggestions with the government in areas related to various policies, programs, schemes, etc. And they still do.

Cut to 2020; the government launched MyGov Helpdesk on WhatsApp, which served as a critical instrument in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic by offering people authentic sources of COVID-related information and critical uses like vaccine appointment bookings and vaccine certificate downloads. We are almost at the end of the tunnel, and the government is determined to expand the horizons of this unique, real-time communication channel between governance and the people.

As a first step, the government recently announced that citizens would be able to use the MyGov Helpdesk on WhatsApp to access the Digilocker services. Launched in 2015 with the aim of paperless governance, DigiLocker is a platform for the issuance and verification of documents & certificates through the digital medium.

While making the government facilities more accessible to every citizen, under the government’s digital India initiative, DigiLocker aims to strengthen the ‘digital empowerment of people by providing access to authentic digital documents in their digital document wallet. The issued documents in the DigiLocker system are deemed to be at par with original physical documents.

Key Aspects of DigiLocker and its Benefits
Digilocker provides an account in the cloud to every Aadhaar cardholder to access their important documents or certificates, including driving license, vehicle registration, and academic certificates in digital format. All citizens, including students, can avail this facility by registering themselves at digilocker.gov.in by using their Aadhar card. As of March 15, over 58.66 million people have registered with DigiLocker, and the platform has issued over 4.27 billion authentic documents. A total of 491 documents are part of DigiLocker, of which the most available document is the Aadhaar card. It has been searched or issued 1,22,91,92,140 times. Class 10 and 12 mark sheets are among the most popular documents at DigiLocker, with as many as 11,10,48,070 class 10 and 7,99,50,171 class 12 mark sheets available on the platform.

Equipping the MyGov Helpdesk with Digilocker services that can be accessed directly via WhatsApp, we want to unlock technology’s potential to extend the benefits of essential services to citizens at scale, and this is a significant step towards scaling up the Digital India vision and a digitally empowered country

Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has recently announced linking the Online Teacher Pupil Registration Management System (OTPRMS) Certificates with DigiLocker. The move aims to provide hassle-free access to certificates to learners. Once issued, certificates are automatically transferred to DigiLocker. The facilities are available for the CBSE and CISCE, among others. CBSE releases mark sheets for board exams and CTET eligibility certificates through DigiLocker.

The ministry of road services digitally signs Digilocker documents, and the documents are carried directly from the National Register database. It has a timestamp for record-keeping purposes. The digital document is a legally valid document under the Indian IT Act 2000. DigiLocker service is linked to the citizen's Unique Aadhaar Number, and it can store personal space of up to 1GB. One can e-sign documents with the help of DigiLocker. Provide authenticity to original documents by converting them into e –documents. It goes without saying that DigilLocker reduces the physical uses of printed documents. Even one can save a digital signature online, not to mention that documents saved in DigiLocker can never be lost. All you need is just a good internet connection and the app on your phone.

Amit Jaju, partner, EY India, explains, “The importance of Digilocker in combating identity theft and exploitation of personal data by way of transfer of physical documents. Digilocker is a highly potent initiative in regards to document management and technological transformation.”

Is Digilocker Safe?
Yes, Digilocker follows strict security protocols. Every release is reviewed and tested internally for security and penetration vulnerabilities before getting deployed on servers. DigiLocker uses mobile authentication-based signup via OTP (one-time password) for authenticating users and allowing access to the platform. Recognized audit agencies audit DigiLocker and the application security audit certificate is obtained at regular intervals. It also has a time limit set for each user's session on the platform.

How can People get Access to DigiLocker on WhatsApp?
Besides Android and iOS apps, people can now access Digilocker services on the MyGov Helpdesk on WhatsApp. By sending ‘Namaste’ or ‘Hi’ or ‘Digilocker’ to the WhatsApp number +91 9013151515, WhatsApp users across the country can use the chatbot. The new service will enable citizens to access documents with ease and convenience of 'anywhere-anytime.' PAN card, Driving License, Vehicle Registration Certificate (RC), Insurance Policy Documents, 10th and 12th standard certificates, and university certificates are all available on the platform.

Abhishek Singh, CEO, MyGov, says, “Offering Digilocker services on the MyGov Helpdesk is a natural progression and a step towards providing citizens with simplified access to essential services via WhatsApp’s easy and accessible platform. With almost 100 million-plus people already registered on Digilocker and five billion-plus documents issued till date, we are confident that the service on WhatsApp will digitally empower millions by helping them access authentic documents and information, right from within their phones.”

According to WhatsApp authorities, “Equipping the MyGov Helpdesk with Digilocker services that can be accessed directly via WhatsApp, we want to unlock technology’s potential to extend the benefits of essential services to citizens at scale, and this is a significant step towards scaling up the Digital India vision and a digitally empowered country.”

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