Adnan Khan, who runs a dental clinic in Meerut, could not follow up on the status of his Aadhaar card application due to his hectic schedule. After a delay of more than a month, he sought details with the nearest common service centre (CSC), an e-governance delivery centre having basic computing infrastructure, run by the local community entrepreneur. To his pleasant surprise, the CSC delivered the printed Aadhaar card the next day. The dentist had to pay only Rs 50 for the service.
Basically, in order to offer a hassle free government services experience, CSC has recently launched cash on delivery option for government-to-citizen (G2C) services. Now, one need not stand in a queue to obtain government documents. By merely submitting an online request, services could be availed sitting at home. Currently, Aadhaar card related services are being offered under this programme. “If you can deliver G2C services in a cash-on-delivery mode, insulating people from going to government offices, you will bring a revolution in the mindset of people,” says Dinesh Tyagi, CEO, CSC e-Governance Services India, adding that about 10% of total 100 crore Aadhaar enrolments have been done by CSCs and almost 40% of Aadhaar applications are being generated through CSCs.
CSCs were envisaged to be a strategic component of the National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) in 2006 as a low cost medium for government organisations to deliver the e-governance services to the rural population. Although, over the years, about 1,60,000 CSCs across 600,000 rural villages have been set up under the PPP, they remained largely inactive in the absence of public and business-to-consumer services and half-hearted efforts on the part of government and private organisations running the network. Therefore, the department of electronics and information technology (DeitY) set up a monitoring unit—CSC Special Purpose Vehicle —in 2012 to oversee the implementation of the CSC schemes.
Since then, the focus of CSC has evolved and it has now forayed into government financial inclusion and pension schemes. About 30,000 CSCs are involved in the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana. And last year’s financial commission to these CSCs had been R40 crore from banking services alone. “Our objective is to make every CSC a business correspondence point so that they can deliver banking and corresponding services. To enable this, we have recently signed the agreements with almost all the major public sector banks,” informs Tyagi.
Interestingly, most of these CSCs work as an agent for insurance companies by collecting their premium and selling insurance products. According to an estimate by CSC, they collect R1 crore premium every day, leading to enhanced commission for the local entrepreneur and higher renewal rate for insurance firms. Although services related to banking and insurance fetch more commission for local entrepreneurs, the major attraction of the people remain basic services such as getting application forms or getting assistance in applying for the jobs. Services such as payment of electricity bill, application for ration card and election photo identity card are frequently sought after. CSC is now mulling to leverage it vast network to provide internet services in rural villages. It has recently taken the ISP license to enable local entrepreneurs to offer internet service through NOFN backbone.
In addition, CSC is building an e-commerce platform for enabling village level entrepreneurs to sell popular local products across the country. “Although, we have signed the agreements with Flipkart and Snapdeal, they mostly serve in urban areas. We are now trying to create ourselves a platform to do something with the products which are unique to India,” says Tyagi, adding that entrepreneurs will be encouraged to sell popular local products like Agra shoes.