This research paper by ‘IT for Change’ seeks to analyse Digital India from a gender perspective, evaluating its implications for women’s empowerment and gender equality. Digital India, as a commonplace terminology has attained the status of a boundary object: a concept that is highly plastic, allowing diverse interpretations, but still recognizable to actors from very different socio-structural locations for a certain common core. In the different discursive universes of public policy, political performance and mainstream public debate, the idea of Digital India occurs frequently. For policymakers, it is a flagship programme; for members of the political class, it is emblematic of a resurgent Indian nation that is transforming into a powerhouse in the global digital economy; while for citizens, it may be an aspirational ideal of upward social mobility or a paradigm shift in transacting with the state.
While acknowledging that Digital India represents both a bounded programmatic domain as well as a loose idea invoked by different actors, this paper defines its focus mainly to the three strategic areas of the ‘official’ Digital India programme – connectivity infrastructure, e-service delivery, and social and economic empowerment of citizens, identified in its vision. It sets out to evaluate the extent to which these key ‘outcome areas’ – ‘infrastructure as a utility to every citizen’, ‘governance and services on demand’ and ‘digital empowerment of citizens’ – integrate gender-aware and gender-responsive design perspectives and their implications for gender-transformative change.