We live in the age of revolution in information technology. The universal acceptance of the power of ICT to transform and accelerate the development process, especially in developing economies is indisputable. The rapid advance in communications technologies, especially the internet, has enabled governments all over the world to reach out to their most remote constitutes to improve the lives of their most underprivileged citizens.
The Government of India has also been proactively engaged in the seamless delivery of information and services with the adoption of best ICT practices. Almost all government departments are now utilising the medium of world wide web in making their services accessible and integrated with the citizens. The Digital India programme is a flagship programme of the Government of India with a vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
The national level e-Governance programme was initiated in 2006 with 31 mission mode projects .National Portal project india.gov.in was one of the mission mode project under the national e-governance plan to provide a single window access to the information and services of the Indian government over Internet. Since its launch the portal has been an extremely popular medium for people across the world to access the information on all aspects of India and it’s government. It is the gateway to over 8000 Indian government websites providing a unified interface to these website and it acts as a logical front end to the government initiatives under various Central, State/ UT Government schemes and programmes
In order to promote more innovative e-governance initiatives by the government entities Digital India awards, earlier known as the Web Ratna Awards, were instituted under the Ambit of National Portal of India. The award acknowledges exemplary initiatives of various government entities in the realm of e-governance. Web Ratna awards were biennial awards and the previous three editions of the awards were held in the years 2009, 2012 and 2014.
Considering the vision of Digital India and acknowledging the fact that citizen are now accessing government information and services through medium other than the web the scope of the Web Ratna awards was broadened to include these initiatives also. Consequently three new categories of awards were introduced and the awards themselves were rechristened as Digital India awards to reflect this vision. Digital India Awards 2016 have been constituted under the following eight categories:-
- Exemplary Online Service
The Award facilitates those ICT based services by a Government Department (Central/State) which have displayed exemplary citizen focus, reach and innovation. The service should have effectively contributed to enhancement in efficiency, productivity as well as in imparting transparency and accountability in the governance process. The entries are expected to display service maturity and the convenience provided to the citizen for availing the services.
- Most Innovative Citizen Engagement
In a democratic system, citizen participation is one of the key components of decision making process. This category invites initiatives taken by Government entities which have leveraged the use of ICT to solicit active engagement of public in the process of governance. The entries are expected to display relevance of context, multiple modes of participation, involvement of stakeholders and innovative use of ICT, both for response acquisition as well as for analysis of inputs received.
- Web Ratna – MINISTRY / DEPT.
The Award felicitates a Ministry or Department of the Government of India which has a comprehensive web presence and display the level of accountability in terms of quantity, quality, spectrum of coverage, and innovation ascertaining user satisfaction. Level of convenience provided to the citizen for availing the services, usability and accessibility are also assessed.
- Web Ratna – STATE / UT
The Award aims to acknowledge the State/UT of India for displaying exemplary initiative in establishing comprehensive web presence and display the level of accountability in terms of quantity, quality, spectrum of coverage, and innovation ascertaining user satisfaction. Level of convenience provided to the citizen for availing the services, usability and accessibility would also be assessed.
- Web Ratna District
To reward the accomplishments of the District administration which has displayed exemplary focus on providing online services and information to the citizens. Entries must display the level of convenience provided to the citizen for availing the services in terms of accessibility, quantity, service maturity and spectrum of coverage in order to ascertain user satisfaction.
- Outstanding Digital initiative by Local body
The Award aims to felicitate outstanding Local Body initiative with a focus on providing exemplary information quality and extent of services provisioning by assessing the service maturity level, service catalogue, transparency, cost effectiveness and efficiency enhancement in terms of service delivery. The initiatives are also assessed on the level of convenience or empowerment provided to the citizen through the initiative.
- Best Mobile App
India is going mobile. More people today are accessing the internet on their phone than ever before. The Award aims to honour the Best Mobile App launched by a Government entity. Nominated app should have well designed and intuitive mobile interface. The entry should also display ease of use and personalisation features. Usability, content organisation and availability on multiple platforms are considered. Back end dashboards and analytics functionality are desirable.
- Open Data Champion
To acknowledge proactive release of resources(datasets/apps) in an Open/Machine readable format, on the Open Government Data (OGD) Platform (http://data.gov.in), by the ministries/ depts./ organizations/ states in compliance with the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NDSAP). The selection criteria includes overall consumption of resources by public at large with respect to their ratings, views, downloads etc. Potential usage of such datasets for development of Apps to deliver citizen services innovatively is an added advantage.
Awards were announced earlier this year and online nominations were called from government entities through the awards website http://digitalindiaawards.gov.in. An overwhelming response was received for all eight categories from across the country with over 500 nominations. Extensive process for evaluation of filed nomination was followed which was conducted in two stages. In the initial stage entries were screened based on a scientifically formulated evaluation matrix which was specifically designed for each category of Digital India Award. The distinguished Jury under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information & Technology comprising senior members from government, academia and industry there after reviewed the shortlisted nominations and finalised the awardees in each category. Three awards Platinum , Gold and silver will be presented in each category. A total of 28 entries have been selected to receive the awards.
The awards ceremony will be conducted in Vigyan Bhawan Plenary hall on 19th December 2016 .
- Presentation of awards
Awards will be presented by the Hon’ble Union Minister of Electronics and Information Technology and Law & Justice Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad.
- Release of awards compendium
After presenting the awards the Hon’ble Minister will release the awards compendium which is a booklet containing the details of the winners in each category. This compilation of exemplary e-governance initiatives delivered either through web or mobile across the country would be a source of inspiration to many and would facilitate in replicating these initiatives to other parts of the country.
- Launch of services website (http://services.india.gov.in)
One of the factors effecting the e governance index and international ranking of any country is the number of online services provided by the government. Many government entities at the center, state, district and local levels are providing online services that have made the life of the citizens simpler and has also increased transparency and efficiency. These services are provided through multiple websites. In order to list these services under one portal in a well categorised and searchable interface, Government Services Portal (http://services.india.gov.in) will be launched by the Minister of State Electronics and Information Technology and Law & Justice, Shri P.P. Chaudhary. The portal contains online services listed in a citizen centric manner under categories like Health and Wellness, Education and Learning, Money and Taxes etc. Citizen can also search for services provided by government entities in his location of residence.