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Communication and Information Technology

8. COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

  • COMMUNICATIONS and information technology in the country are handled by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Communications.
  • The Ministry of Electronics and Technology promotes e-governance and sustainable growth of the electronics, IT and ITeS industries, enhancing India’s role in internet governance while the Ministry of Communications looks after the Department of Posts and Department of Telecommunications.

Posts:

  • The modern postal system, the most preferred facilitator of communication, was established in India by Lord Clive in 1766 and it was further developed by Warren Hastings in 1774.
  • The expansion of its network was made during 1786 to 1793.
  • For the first time, the post offices were regulated through an Act of 1837 on a uniform basis to unite all the post office establishments throughout the then existing three Presidencies into one all-India service.
  • Thereafter, the Post Office Act of 1854 reformed the entire fabric of the postal system and the post offices of India were placed on the present administrative footing on 1st October 1854.
  • This was the time when the first postage stamp valid across the country was issued at an affordable and uniform rate of postage, fixed by weight and not by distance.
  • The statute presently governing the postal services in the country is the Indian Post Office Act, 1898.
  • Mail-order services were started with the value payable system introduced in 1877, while fund remittances at the doorstep became possible from 1880 through money order services.
  • With the introduction of the Post Office Savings Bank in 1882 banking facilities were accessible to all and by 1884 all government employees were covered by postal life insurance.
  • Besides providing postal communication facilities, the post office network has also provided facilities for remittance of funds, banking, and insurance services since the latter half of the 19th century.

Organization Overview:

  • The Department of Posts comes under the Ministry of Communications.
  • The Postal Service Board, the apex management body of the department, comprises the Chairman and six Members.
  • The Joint Secretary and Financial Advisor to the department is a permanent invitee to the Board.
  • The Chairman of the Postal Services Board is also the Secretary of the Department of Posts.
  • Director-General and Additional Director General of the Department also participate in the Board’s meetings.

Financial Services:

  • Department of Posts is operating Small Savings Schemes on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, which frames and modifies rules relating to these schemes and pays remuneration to the Department of Posts.
  • The savings bank facility is provided through a network of 1.54 lakh post offices across the country.
  • The post office savings bank operates savings accounts, recurring deposit (RD), time deposit (TD), monthly income scheme (MIS), public provident fund (PPF), national savings certificate (NSC), Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP), senior citizens savings scheme (SCSS) and Sukanya Samriddhi Account.

Financial Services

Mutual Funds

  • The post office is playing an important role in extending the reach of the capital market of the country and providing the common man easy access to market-based investment options.
  • Presently, Mutual Fund products of UTI only are being retailed through post offices.

International Money Transfer Service

  • It is a quick and easy way of transferring personal remittances from abroad to beneficiaries in India.
  • As a result of the collaboration of Department of Posts, Government of India with Western Union Financial Services a state-of-the-art international money transfer service is available through the post offices in the country, which enables instantaneous remittance of money from around 195 countries to India.

National Pension Scheme

  • Earlier known as the New Pension System (NPS), common citizens were introduced by the government in 2009.
  • India Post is a point of presence for the national pension system.
  • Subscribers (any Indian citizen) in the age group of 18 to 55 can join NPS and contribute till the age of 60.
  • These pension contributions are invested in various schemes of different pension fund managers appointed by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA).

Social Security Scheme

  • Jan Suraksha Schemes like the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) and Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) were launched in 2015 in all CBS post offices for all post office savings account holders.
  • Department of Posts has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with National Insurance Company (NIC) and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for PMSBY and PMJJBY respectively.
  • Atal Pension Yojna (APY) was launched in all CBS head post offices from 2015.

Core Banking Solution & installation of ATMs

 

  • The Core Banking Solution (CBS) is part of the India Post IT Modernization project that aims to bring in various IT solutions with the required infrastructure to the post offices.
  • The project aims to implement Core Banking Solution in all the Departmental Post Offices for Small Savings Schemes during the current Plan period.
  • The project will bring in facilities of “any time anywhere banking”.

Retailing of Mutual Funds

  • The post office is playing an important role in extending the reach of the capital market of the country and providing the common man easy access to market-based investment options.
  • Presently, Mutual Fund products of UTI MF only are being retailed through over 2,000 post offices.

Sukanya Samriddhi Account

  • Sukanya Samriddhi Account, a new Small Savings Scheme for the welfare of girl child, was launched in 2015.
  • Under the scheme, a legal/natural guardian can open only one account in the name of one girl child and maximum two accounts in the name of two different girl children up to 10 years from date of birth of the girl child.

India Post Payments Bank

  • Set up in 2016, to promote the adoption of cashless transactions in a predominantly cash-based economy.
  • IPPB got incorporated as a Public Limited Company with 100 percent GOI equity under the Department of Posts.
  • It was decided to roll out 650 IPPB branches across the country co-located at district headquarter post offices and all post offices in a district will be linked to the respective IPPB branch.
  • Accordingly, IPPB has rolled all the 650 branches and 1.36 lakhs access points.
  • Thus, IPPB has become the biggest bank of the country in terms of the physical presence of 1.36 lakhs access points along with a large force of 3 lakh trained and certified postmen and GDS to offer banking at door step.
  • Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) products primarily aim at savings whereas IPPB primarily focuses on encouraging digital payments and remittance.
  • POSB as savings schemes such as SB, TD, MIS, PPF, SSY, etc., whereas IPPB offers Savings Accounts& Current Accounts (CASA), Remittance and Bill Payment Services, Merchant Services and Third-Party Products.

Postal Life Insurance (PLI)

  • It was introduced on 1st February 1884, as a welfare scheme for the benefit of postal employees and later extended to the employees of the telegraph department in 1888.
  • It now covers employees of central and state governments, central and state public sector undertakings, universities, government-aided educational institutions, nationalized banks and local bodies.
  • PLI also extends the facility of insurance to defense services and para-military forces.

Rural Postal Life Insurance

  • It was started in 1995.
  • Objective: To provide insurance cover to the rural public in general and to benefit weaker sections and women workers of rural areas in particular and also to spread insurance awareness among the rural population.

Sovereign Gold Bond

  • Sale of Sovereign Gold Bond (SGB)’ introduced in 2015-16 by the Ministry of Finance, and operated through RBI.
  • Objective: To popularize ‘Paper Gold’ among masses and to reach out to the small investors at the grass-root level.

Electronic Indian Postal Order (e-IPO)

  • Based on the proposal received from Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), India Post agreed to facilitate acceptance of RTI fees from Indian citizens abroad through e-IPO on e-Post Office web portal.
  • Initially, this facility was launched in 2013 only for Indian citizens abroad across the globe to seek information from the Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs) under the RTI Act, 2005.
  • Later on, the facility was extended to 176 Indian Missions abroad.
  • EIPO facility was further extended to Indian citizens living in India in 2014 to facilitate them to pay RTI fee online.

International Relations

  • India is a member of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) since 1876.
  • This organization of 192 member countries aims to extend, facilitate and improve postal relations among other countries.
  • India, an elected member of the Postal Operations Council (POC) of the UPU is the co-chair of Committee 1 (Supply Chain Integration), and member of the Quality of Service Fund, Board of Trustees (QSF BoT) which works for the development of the postal sector in the developing countries.
  • India is also a member of the Asian-Pacific Postal Union (APPU) along with 31 other member countries.
  • The purpose of the APPU is to extend, facilitate and improve closer postal relations among member countries and to promote cooperation in the field of postal services within the Asia-Pacific region.

Philately:

  • Philately is the hobby of collecting stamps as well as the study of postal history and other related items.
  • It is a mode of commemorating, celebrating and promoting national heritage, culture, events and personalities.
  • Postage Stamps are pictorial ambassadors. They are a statement of sovereignty of a nation.
  • There are two categories of stamps viz., definitive and commemorative postage stamps.
  1. The definitive postage stamps are meant for day-to-day use as a token of payment of postage on mail articles.  These incorporate less complicated design inputs, entailing minimum expenditure in their manufacture, and are printed in large quantities, over longer periods.
  2. The commemorative postage stamps are designed and printed with greater aesthetic inputs. These are manufactured in limited quantities and generate great interest among philatelists and collectors.

Celebration of 150th  Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi:

  • Twenty-five postal administrations across the world released stamps to mark the 150th  Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Deen Dayal SPARSH Yojana:

  • A philately scholarship scheme called Deen Dayal SPARSH (Scholarship for Promotion of Aptitude and Research in Stamps as a Hobby) Yojana was introduced in 2017-18 to promote philately among children at a young age in a sustainable manner that can reinforce and supplement the academic curriculum in addition to providing a hobby that can help them relax and de-stress.
  • Under this scheme, 920 scholarships are awarded throughout the country to students from Classes VI, VII, VIII and IX every year.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

  • Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) deals with policy matters relating to information technology, electronics, internet (other than licensing of ISPs), and cybersecurity.
  • The aim is to promote e-governance for empowering citizens, promoting the inclusive and sustainable growth of the electronics, IT and ITeS industries, promoting digital transactions and digital payments, enhancing India’s role in internet governance, adopting a multipronged approach that includes development of human resources, promoting R&D and innovation, enhancing efficiency through digital services and ensuring a secure cyber space.
  • MeitY functions around the ambit of two major Acts.
  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 which provides legal recognition to the transaction carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication.
  • It gives provisions for the use of electronic records and digital signature with the provision of authentication and security.
  • It also directs the establishment of the Cyber Appellate Tribunal.
  • This Act was amended through the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 which substituted the word “digital signature” with “electronic signature” with major changes in various sections along with the insertion of other sections.

E-Governance

Adhaar-Enabled Biometric Attendance System

  • In order to bring in efficiency in the Government, an Aadhaar enabled Biometric Attendance System was implemented by MeitY.

E-Payment Framework

  • All payments and receipts to be in electronic mode.
  • The portal payonline.gov.in envisaged as common platform for making physical payments online.

E-Districts

  • It is one of the Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) under e-Kranti, with the MeitY, as the nodal Ministry, to be implemented by the state government or their designated agencies.
  • This MMP aims at the electronic delivery of identified high volume citizen-centric services, at district and sub-district level, those are not part of any other MMP. It has been launched in 634 districts along with 1012 e-services.

Common Services Centre

  • This scheme aims at providing ICT enabled frontend service delivery outlets, across rural India covering six lakh villages.
  • These internet-enabled centers allow doorstep access to citizens, private and social services for skill development, education, digital literacy, health, and financial services.
  • New services namely banking, insurance, and pension under Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojna have made CSCs very vibrant.
  • Digital Sakshartha Abhiyan (DISHA) for undertaking digital literacy has enabled active citizen participation through CSCs.
  • Aadhaar enrolment/update has been enabled through CSCs.

State Wide Area Network

  • SWAN has been identified as an element of the core infrastructure for supporting the e-governance initiatives and the MeitY has earmarked a significant outlay for supporting this activity.
  • Under the National e-governance action plan, it is proposed to extend connectivity to the block level through NICNET/State Wide Area Network (SWAN).

E-Pramaan

  • MeitY has conceptualized and is implementing the e-Pramaan framework for e-Authentication for public services.
  • The objective is to electronically deliver the government services to its intended recipients in a secure manner.
  • MeitY has made e-Pramaan available for public usage with the help of C-DAC, Mumbai.
  • E-Pramaan is a centralized, standard-based strong multi-factored authentication system that provides four factors for user authentication: password (text, image), one-time password (SMS, email, mobile app), digital certificate (Indian CAs), and biometric (fingerprint, IRIS).

Online e-Sign (e-Hastakshar)

  • This facility is an online digital signature service. e- Sign was formally launched in 2015.
  • It is an online electronic signature service, which can be integrated with service delivery applications via an Application Programming Interface (API) to facilitate an e-Sign user to digitally sign a document.
  • Using authentication of the Aadhaar holder through Aadhaar e-KYC service, an online electronic signature service is facilitated.
  • e-Sign service facilitates instant signing of documents online by citizens in a legally acceptable form.

National Knowledge Network

  • It was established in 2010.
  • Objective: To interconnect all institutions of higher learning and research
  • with a high-speed data communication network to facilitate knowledge sharing and collaborative research.
  • NKN is the largest network of its kind in the world and is currently perceived as a leading research and education network (REN) globally.
  • NKN is the only network globally, that carries research and evaluation, Internet and e-Governance traffic as three independent verticals under one umbrella.

Unified Mobile Application for New-Age Governance (UMANG)

  • It has been developed and launched in 2017 as a single mobile platform to deliver major government services.
  • UMANG’s core platform is integrated with Aadhaar, DigiLocker, PayGov, Rapid Assessment System (RAS), etc. Citizens can access pan India government services from the central government, state governments, local bodies, and their agencies.
  • It supports 12 Indian languages,

Digital Locker

  • Digital Locker is a platform for issuance and verification of documents and certificates in a digital way, thus eliminating the use of physical documents.
  • Indian residents, who sign up for a DigiLocker account, get a dedicated cloud storage space.
  • Organizations that are registered with Digital Locker can push electronic copies of documents and certificates (e.g. driving license, school certificates) directly into citizens’ lockers.
  • Citizens can also upload scanned copies of their legacy documents in their accounts.

Pragati (Pro-Active Governance And Timely Implementation)

  • PRAGATI As a part of the Digital India programme, e-Governance Reforming Government through Technology, was launched in 2015.
  • This video conferencing facility brings the secretaries to the government of India and the chief secretaries of the states on a single platform on every fourth Wednesday of the month, through which Prime Minister is able to discuss the issues in major projects and programs with the concerned central and state officials directly with full information and latest visuals of the ground-level situation.

Direct Benefit Transfer

  • The programme envisages a switch from the present electronic transfer to bank accounts of the beneficiary to transfer of benefits directly to Aadhaar seeded bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
  • The scheme is being headed by DBT Mission.
  • Under the DBT Mission, DBT Cell is to be constituted in each ministry.

e-Way Bill

  • It provides a self-service platform to tax payers and transporters to generate a single e-Way Bill for movement of goods from one place to another, as per GST Rules.
  • Following the implementation of GST, the e-Way Bill system was rolled out all over the country.

Unique Identification Authority of India

  • UIDAI was established in 2009, as an attached office to the Planning Commission now an attached office of Ministry of Electronics and IT with a vision, “To empower residents of India with a unique identity and a digital platform to authenticate anytime, anywhere”.
  • A key objective of Aadhaar programme is to provide an identity infrastructure for delivery of various social welfare programmes and for effective targeting of welfare services.

Cyber Appellate Tribunal

  • In accordance with the provision contained under Section 48(1) of the IT Act 2000, the Cyber Regulations Appellate Tribunal (CRAT) was established in 2006.
  • As per the IT Act, any person aggrieved by an order made by the Controller of Certifying Authorities or by an Adjudicating Officer under the Act can appeal before the Cyber Appellate Tribunal (CAT).

National Informatics Centre

  • NIC was established in 1976.
  • NIC, through its ICT network, “NICNET”, has institutional linkages with all the ministries/departments of the central government, 36 state governments/union territories, and about 650+ district administrations of India.
  • NIC has been instrumental in steering e-government/e-governance applications in government ministries/departments at the centre, states, districts and blocks, facilitating improvement in government services, wider transparency, promoting decentralized planning and management.

Software Technology Parks

  • Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) was set up in 1991 as an autonomous society under the MeitY.
  • STPI’s main objective has been the promotion of software exports from the country.
  • It acts as a single-window in providing services to the software exporters.
  • STPI is responsible for the implementation of the Software Technology Parks (STP) scheme and the Electronics Hardware Technology Parks (EHTP) scheme.

Indian Computer Emergency Response Team

  • CERT-In is a functional organization of the Ministry, which has been designated under Section 70B of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 to serve as the national agency to perform the following functions in the area of cybersecurity:
    • collection, analysis and dissemination of information on cybersecurity incidents;
    • forecast and alerts of cybersecurity incidents;
    • emergency measures for handling cybersecurity incidents;
    • coordination of cybersecurity incident response activities, issue guidelines, advisories, vulnerability notes and white papers relating to information security practices, procedures, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents, etc.

Centre for Development of Advanced Computing

  • C-DAC has emerged as a premier R&D organization in IT&E (Information Technologies and Electronics) in the country working on strengthening national technological capabilities in the context of global developments in the field and responding to change in the market in selected foundation areas.             

National Informatics Centre Services Incorporated

  • It was set up by National Informatics Centre (NIC) in 1995 as its extended arm for providing total ICT solutions to the central and state government departments and organizations.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

  • The Telecom Sector in India has witnessed all-round growth over the last few years.
  • The deregulation of Foreign Direct Investment norms has led to an increase in FDI in the sector.
  • India is currently the world’s second-largest telecommunications market with a subscriber base of 1.18 billion.
  • India’s mobile economy is growing rapidly and currently constitutes more than 98 percent of all telephone subscriptions.
  • The mobile industry is expected to create a total economic value of ?14 trillion (US$217.37 billion) by 

Tele-density

  • It denotes the number of telephones per 100 populations, is an important indicator of telecom penetration.
  • Overall tele-density in the country(March 2019): 90.10 percent
  • Rural tele-density: 57.50 percent
  • Urban tele-density: 159.66 percent
  • Amongst the service areas, Himachal Pradesh (146.37 percent) had the highest teledensity followed by Kerala (126.15 percent), Punjab (125.35 percent), Tamil Nadu (116.94 percent) and Karnataka (110.04 percent).

Internet and Broadband Penetration

  • The number of Internet subscribers (both broadband and narrowband put together)- 636.73 million(March 2019).
  • The number of subscribers accessing the internet via wireless phones- 615.05 million (March 2019).
  • The number of wireline internet subscribers- 21.68 million (March 2019).
  • The number of Broadband subscribers- 561.36 million (March 2019).
  • There was a net increase of 132.78 million in the Internet subscribers during the period March, 2018 to March, 2019.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

  • Fully owned by Government of India, formed in October 2000, provides telecom services across the length and breadth of the country excluding Delhi and Mumbai.

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited

  • Set up in 1986, is a Navratna PSU and provides telecommunication facilities in India’s key metros - Delhi and Mumbai.

Telecommunications Consultants India Limited

  • Set-up in 1978.
  • Objective- To provide world-class technology in all fields of telecommunications and information technology to excel in its operations in overseas and in the domestic markets by developing proper marketing strategies, to acquire state of the art technology on a continuing basis and to maintain leadership.

Bharat Broadband Network Limited

  • A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), namely, Bharat Broadband networks Limited (BBNL) was incorporated in 2012 under the Indian Companies Act, 1956 for execution of the Bharat Net for connecting 2.50 lakh (approximately) Gram Panchayats (GPs).

Vision  of Digital     India

  • This programme has been envisaged by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY).
  • It would also bring in public accountability through mandated delivery of government’s services electronically; a Unique ID and e-Pramaan based on authentic and standard-based interoperable and integrated government applications and data basis.
  • The source of funding for most of the e-governance projects at present is through budgetary provisions of respective ministries/ departments in the central or state governments.

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