Digital India, but You Still Can't Buy Republic Day Parade Tickets Online
On January 26, 2017, while India showcases its technological prowess, much of the audience in attendance will be holding on to a relic of a non-digital era.
The tableau of the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology passes through the Rajpath, in New Delhi on January 26, 2016 (Image: india.gov.in)
India signalled it has entered the digital era post demonetisation, but the vision has not been put into practice in the first Republic Day post the announcement.
One of the high points of India's Republic Day celebrations is the grand parade on New Delhi's Rajpath, in which the country demonstrates its diversity, progress and military might.
In tune with the long established practice, the Ministry of Defence had in early January, started the sale of tickets for the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath and Beating Retreat Ceremony at Vijay Chowk.
While this year's Republic Day ticket sales has adopted cashless modes of payments - debit and credit cards - it hasn't gone digital. You cannot buy the tickets online. They can only be purchased from one of the seven designated counters for the general public and another inside Parliament for the members.
Even while being limited in scope, the sale of Republic Day tickets online would have been an important symbolic step in reinforcing the idea of Digital India. Not that the government or its subsidiaries lack the ability of such sales. You can even buy platform tickets online.
The online sales could have been carried out in association with Indian Railway Catering & Tourism Corporation Ltd (IRCTC), that happens to be India's largest e-commerce service.
Ministry of Defence press release regarding the sale of Republic Day Parade tickets
Production of a government-issued identity card was made mandatory for purchase of Republic Day tickets since 2015 because of security reasons. This shouldn't be a big deterrent to online ticketing, as Aadhaar is one of the accepted identity documents and can be easily verified online. Alternatively, as it happens on trains and at airports, the identity can be corroborated at the venue.
Security concerns will, however, prevent it from being paperless as electronic devices are not allowed.
On January 26, 2017, while India will showcase its technological prowess to the world, much of the audience in attendance in Rajpath will be holding on to a relic of the non-digital era, a physically purchased paper ticket.
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