During his recent two-day visit to home state Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA), an initiative aimed at imparting digital literacy to citizens in rural areas around the country. The announcement was made on October 6 during the inauguration of a building at the IIT Gandhinagar campus.
Calling for his fellow countrymen’s support to put an end to the digital inequality and divide currently present in India, PM Modi said at the launch, “A Digital India guarantees transparency, effective service delivery and good governance. Work is underway to spread digital literacy to every part of India, among all age groups and sections of society.”
In his impassioned speech, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the importance of technological revolution in the creation of a new, better India. He also encouraged the students of IIT Gandhinagar to participate in the process of nation building by facilitating need-based innovation that has the potential to bring change to the lives of people in rural and semi-urban areas.
The event was also attended by the Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad, Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijaibhai Rupani, among others.
Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan
First presented by the Finance Minister in the 2016-17 Union Budget, the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan received the approval of the Cabinet in February this year. The initiative focusses on making 60 Mn rural households digital literate.
As part of the budget, the government earmarked more than $360.7 Mn (INR 2,351.38 Cr) to herald a new age of digital literacy in rural India by March 2019. The implementation of the PMGDISHA scheme is being carried out under the overall supervision of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, in collaboration with respective states and union territories.
Under the scheme, candidates will be trained on the use of computers, smartphones and tablets for sending and receiving emails, browsing the Internet, accessing government services available online and undertaking cashless transactions. Additionally, students will be trained at digital wallets, mobile banking, UPI and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS).
According to the original plan, around 27.5 Mn candidates will be traced in FY 2017-18, with another 30 Mn undergoing training during 2018-19. To reach people across rural India, the government has mandated each of the country’s 250K gram panchayats to register an average of 200-300 candidates.
As per a report by The Indian Express, over 5.5 Mn citizens have already registered on the PMGDISHA portal, of which around 2.2 Mn people have successfully undergone the training and assessment phases. The daily further stated that about 7,000 training centre operators – Common Service Centre Village Level Entrepreneurs (CSC-VLEs) from various states have also been asked to participate in the scheme.
Digital Revolution Still Localised To Tier I and Tier II Cities
Today, India stands on the cusp of the fourth technological revolution. The currently boasts over 450 Mn internet users and more than 616 Mn mobile users, as per a report by the Groupe Speciale Mobile (GSM) Association.
Despite the government’s ceaseless efforts to drive the digital revolution, rural India has only 17% penetration, as per a recent report by Urban the Internet and Mobile Association of India & IMRB. By comparison, the country has close to 60% internet penetration in urban areas. According to the 71st NSSO Survey on Education, more than 150Mn rural households are currently not a part of the digital wave, meaning that they still do not have access to computers, smartphones of the Internet.
With the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA), the government under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi is looking to bring digital literacy to more than 60 Mn rural households by 2019.
(The development was reported by India.com)