The Coronavirus has changed the world in terms of social relations, economic activities, healthcare, education and several other aspects of life. Yet, life has not come to a standstill – thanks largely to information and communication technology. Technological advances are often termed as ‘disruptions’, but this year they helped us overcome the big disruption to a great extent, said President Ram Nath Kovind.

He was speaking on the occasion of the presentation of the Digital India Awards 2020 today (December 30, 2020) via video conferencing.

The President said that India was not only prepared to minimise the adverse impact of mobility-restrictions but also utilized the crisis as an opportunity to march ahead in various arenas. It was possible only because the digital infrastructure has been strengthened in recent years.

He said that education continued without a break as most institutions started offering lessons online. From the judiciary to telemedicine, scores of sectors switched to the virtual mode. For the government too, information technology was one of the most crucial tools to deliver a variety of services to citizens and keep the wheels of the economy turning.

The President noted that due to proactive digital interventions, we have been able to ensure operational continuity of important government services during and after the lockdown. He said that the role of our digital warriors has been commendable in helping the country overcome challenges posed by the pandemic.

Proactive implementation of platforms such as Arogya Setu, e-Office and video conferencing services backed by a robust ICT infrastructure has helped the country reduce the pandemic hardships.

The President urged to keep exploring innovative solutions for the functioning of government offices in the paperless and contactless mode for security and benefit of every citizen. He said that it will also help in making administrative processes more eco-friendly.

He said that we must leverage technology and ICT-driven innovative solutions to aid economic inclusiveness and social transformation even in the remotest corners of our country. A large segment of our population is still not able to derive the benefits of digital devices and services.

The number of such people needs to be minimised by extending digital access to them through effective innovations. This will make our digital revolution more inclusive. Thus, the Digital India initiative of the Government should continue to strive towards reducing the digital divide.

Quoting the famous adage, the President said that information is power. Sharing more information with more people not only enhances transparency in society but also empowers citizens and civil society. With this noble ideal in mind, the government has started putting different kinds of data sets and data resources in the public domain.

This is highly necessary for informed citizenship, which is the cornerstone of democracy. The National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy too envisages a participatory model of governance in which citizens can access non-strategic information from public authorities and become partners with the government in various reform processes.

The Digital India Awards is an initiative of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to honour exemplary initiatives/practices in Digital-Governance. The 6th Digital India Awards 2020 have been presented in six categories – Innovation in Pandemic; Excellence in Digital Governance; Excellence in Digital Governance; Excellence in Digital Governance; Open Data Champion; and Exemplary Product.