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The Ground Realities of Digital India

Four years since the launch of Digital India, a village in Chhattisgarh waits for electricity and stable mobile network.

In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Digital India, a campaign to ensure that all government services are available to citizens electronically and to improve the internet infrastructure and connectivity across rural India. High speed internet service, mobile healthcare, electronic education and participative governance were some of the highlights of the campaign.  

While the government has spent over Rs 11000 crore as part of this campaign, less than 2.5% of India’s 2.5 lakh  village panchayats have commercial broadband connections. A village in Rajnandgaon district of Chhatisgarh is a village without electricity or internet.  “A lot of women who holds an ATM cards do not know how to use ATM machines.” says Community Correspondent Bhan Sahu. In another remote village Asind, in Bhilwada, Rajasthan, a labourer going to get his physically handicapped pension via a bank and he had never heard about internet.

Out of 1600 languages and dialects that India has, non-availability of digital services in local languages is also a great barrier in digital literacy. Digital illiteracy is a concern when village residents are trying to do bank transactions. There is always a possibility of losing money or getting scammed. “I made an online payment which didnt get procescessed, and I still haven't got the money back. A lot of people face difficulty in  online transactions,” says Manisha Yadav, who works in a kiosk of Chattishgarh Gramin bank in Dhamansara village. A programme like this requires massive awareness among the people, especially in rural areas where exposure to technology and awareness about carrying out secure digital transactions is bleak. Banks lost  Rs 32,048 crore to frauds in the last financial year, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) “There should be trainings given to youngsters and they need to set up mobile network towers”, says Kuleshwar Das Sahu.

While the government has made great strides in launching online services for citizens such as e-pathshala, kisan suvidha, farmer portal, shala darpan etc, improving digital infrastructure is key to the success of the campaign.

Video by Community Correspondent Bhan Sahu

Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of the VV editorial team

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