After reaping rich dividends from its ‘Digital Village’ initiative in the Lok Sabha polls, the Narendra Modi government, in its second term, is set to scale up the project. The focus is expected to be on expanding the reach of social schemes such as Ayushman Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-dhan (PM-SYM) besides ensuring financial services, basic healthcare and skill development in rural India. The PM-SYM is a scheme to provide old age pension and social security for unorganised sector workers.
Common Service Centres, formed under the IT Ministry, which deliver various welfare schemes in 700 villages are likely to be opened in more villages.
Of the 303 Lok Sabha seats which BJP won, 274 constituencies are those where the Centre pushed its Digital Village scheme providing access to information, knowledge and skill to the citizens using various components of Digital India initiative.
From making government services available to villagers at their doorstep to creating young rural entrepreneurs, Digital Villages have become agents of change in rural India, believe IT Ministry sources.
“Apart from States such as Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar, BJP’s performance in states like West Bengal, Odisha, Telengana, Jammu and Kashmir and North-Eastern states has been remarkable,” said an IT Ministry source.
In all these States Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has been actively monitoring the Digital Village scheme which is implemented by its arm — Common Service Centre (CSC) Special Purpose Vehicle. Outgoing IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had monitored implementation of Digital Village scheme. “On several occasions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had acknowledged role of CSC in making Digital Village a reality and ensuring benefits of government schemes reach rural hinterland,” said a senior MeitY official.
MeitY sources say officials have been sounded to prepare a detailed roadmap to take the scheme to the next level. The Modi-led government is keen to replicate the success of Digital Village in remaining villages across India.
Today the scheme is being implemented in 700 villages, one in every district across India. “Successful implementation of Digital Village scheme through CSCs has led to the Modi government winning hearts in rural India. And now with Modi pushing for ending poverty with renewed vigour, we can even see Digital Village in all new avatar with new social and financial schemes being implemented in rural areas through CSCs,” said the MeitY official. Dinesh Tyagi, Chief Executive Officer, CSC SPV, said, “The initial impact of Digital Village initiative has been huge. We are providing banking, education, healthcare, skill training digitally at CSCs. We believe that CSC can contribute ...to the Digital India programme by helping extend its reach into rural and remote corners of the country. ”
“We can get one lakh villages transformed into Digital Villages within one year which would require support from all Ministries of the government. This will not only help villages realise their true potential, but will likely transform the Indian hinterland into a powerhouse in coming years,” Tyagi added.
Under the scheme, villages are provided Wi-Fi connectivity, with healthcare and education provided digitally. Similarly, CSCs in Digital Villages have also become hub of financial inclusion. CSC’s tie up with HDFC Bank is only going to make financial inclusion faster and better in rural India.