New Delhi: The implementation of many e-governance projects is no measure of the success of the Digital India initiative, as experts are of the view that it has been unable to make the desired impact due to legal and infrastructural issues.

“The Digital India concept is glorified by India but it is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the law ministry to make sure that the laws are updated and not ambiguous for someone to misuse," Ashish Chandra, general counsel of Snapdeal, said at the 43rd National Convention of Company Secretaries organized by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India held in New Delhi on Friday.

“The legal challenges that Digital India might face are that the laws are still outdated. There are spectrum issues, data privacy issues and product liability issues," he added.

The Digital India initiative aims to provide Internet access to remote parts of the country through a wireless network.

“It is not a Digital India but a bureaucratic India; not from the government’s side but from a legal aspect. Though certain laws have been made like IT Act, yet the laws are not keeping pace with the changing technology," he said.

Speaking at the event, Premkumar Seshadri, executive vice-chairman and managing director of HCL Infosystems Ltd, said the concept of digital divide has changed with respect to the number of Internet users from across the nation.

“Digital power, in the hands of the citizens, is the first step towards the empowerment of the citizens. We have been able to make things easier by bringing transparency in the processes, making them online and removing human intervention," he said.

Seshadri also emphasized that with the digitized Aadhaar unique identity number project, real-time e-governance has emerged. The legal case against Aadhaar violating privacy is to be heard by a yet-to-be-constituted constitution bench of the Supreme Court.

However, the execution speed of digital initiatives will have to be expedited. Law secretary P.K. Malhotra said Digital India is an ambitious project launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but in reality, it has been going on for more than two decades. “But the government can’t succeed unless the entire industry participates as a whole," he said.

In a session on ease of doing business, experts echoed that rules and laws that will lead to an environment that fosters easy business needs to be emphasized.

“There is a lack of time frame in the government and even when there is a time frame, nobody follows it. There is a certain inability in the department to take calls because the architecture of legislation is complex," said Ketan Dalal, chairman of the direct tax committee of Indian Merchants Chamber, a lobby group.

Dalal believes that in India, there is a tendency to over-legislate, which becomes an impediment to business. “We have to move faster. Everything has to have a time limit. There is a need for a holistic approach," he said.

India ranked 130 among 189 nations in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2016 rankings. The National Democratic Alliance government has launched a drive to improve the country’s business environment, speed up approvals for businesses to boost manufacturing and job creation, and bring transparency and stability to tax rates.

srishti.g@livemint.com

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