Digital Literacy is one of the challenges for a large segment of population, especially in rural India. Our focus is to simplify the common man’s life, says Dr Dinesh Tyagi, Chief Executive Officer, CSC e-Governance Services India Limited, in conversation with Shivani Tyagi of Elets News Network (ENN).
Give us an overview of Common Service Centre?
The Common Service Centre or, CSC is front-end managed, operated, and run by the local entrepreneur. It delivers citizen-centric services. Initially, they were envisaged to focus on ensuring access points for delivery of citizen services. But as the journey continues, we’ve got large bouquet of citizen-based services.
Presently, there are about 2,80,000 CSCs of which 1.7 lakhs are in rural areas. The government’s new scheme on CSC, called CSC 2.0, envisaged that there will be minimum one CSC in every Panchayat and in every municipal ward. Since access points are required everywhere for delivering G2C services, various State governments are using the CSCs.
“Digital India is not only about technology but simplifying the life of a common man. Our present focus is also in the direction to see how we simplify the life of a common man in whatever he or she wants to access and that’s what Digital India’s motto is.”
In some cases, they also use it for Government to Government (G2G) applications. Government gives some work to them like a electric poll survey and other surveys which are to be conducted. CSC will do the survey work, complete it and give it to them. It is the State government’s ability to utilise the infrastructure for meeting their requirements, specific to their needs. In G2G there are lot of opportunities, as work is being done in rural India. Today, weather it is MNREGA application form; Asha details forms are filled in a manual process with the same infrastructure and it can be used by all government functionaries in the villages. Then they can use the infrastructure to put up and send details across to wherever they are required to and therefore help government to get reliable information online from the site of various schemes and about program implementation being done.
What are the major programmes run by CSC?
The Government to Citizen is one part of the programmes. But our major focus continues to be on financial inclusion. We envisage that as we are working for financial inclusion of society, 2,50,000 centres should be able to provide all the financial services to citizens which will include banking which have deposit, withdrawal and remittance. Then we have insurance products allowed to be sold and the national pension scheme for creating the financial inclusion.
How the payment segments have been revolutionised?
Changing the traditional methods across the country,huge promotions were being envisaged to digital transaction in the BFSI sector. We see the perception as well as the mindset of people is undergoing phenomenal changes across India. Today, about two crore people have been organised, mobilised, trained, empowered and enabled so that they can do digital financial transactions. In addition, we are enabling merchants because we know there are two important stakeholders in the system — merchants and customers. We enabled merchants to download various apps which enable them to do the transaction and also use Point of Sale(PoS) machines and other machines which are available. So that citizens can use the system.
Understanding Common Services Centres
The Common Services Centres (CSCs), a strategic cornerstone of the Digital India programme, exist as access points for delivery of various electronic services in rural parts of the country. It is facilitating in building a digitally and financially inclusive society.
Existing as more than service delivery points in rural India, CSCs are positioned as change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods. They are enablers of community participation and collective action for engendering social change with a key focus on the rural citizen.
How CSC is bridging the gap between the government and the citizens?
CSC is the integral component of Digital India and there is a phenomenal focus shift since the new government came to power at the Centre in 2014. There is a lot of emphasis on the use of CSC for various schemes and programmes of the government, both at the central and state level. This has created the new vibrancy within the CSC eco system. There number is also going up. In 2014 there were only 84,000 centres which has now risen to 2,90,000. There is also an improvement in the quality of connectivity and basket of services. Therefore, creating a good vibrant and sustainable business model for people involves CSC.
What are the challenges you are facing?
Digital literacy is one of the challenges for a large segment of population, especially in rural India. They do not have necessary skills to use these tools. Fortunately, the government has recently announced a programme called Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) which envisages digital literacy for six crore citizens across the country in two-and a- half years. It is very challenging and I think it is the largest envisaged in that format in the world. This will bridge the gap of digital divide. We are trying to motivate the community, to use digital technology for information, knowledge, skill and remove the barrier between rural and urban space. The CSC will play it part by resolving the issues and bridging tha gaps in financial inclusion health and education.
What is your vision of Digital India?
Digital India is not only about technology but simplifying the life of a common man. Our present focus is also in the direction to see how we simplify the life of a common man in whatever he or she wants to access and that’s what Digital India’s motto is. As we go along what is envisaged is probably that a citizen should not have to visit the government office for any service anymore. Thus, through technology we are trying and experimenting with sustaining of enabling cash on delivery for G2C services. If it can happen for goods, it can happen for services. Technology platform is already there, or ability to convince the government and the department and delivery services to the home without ever visiting the government offices. We have been doing it in a limited way. We are trying to expand this.