Digital India goes rural: Modi’s ‘DigiGaon’ to bring villages on Wi-Fi Internet to boost literacy, incomes

By: | Published: May 22, 2018 2:34 PM

With the center's focus clearly on "digital inclusion", this initiative will enable people in rural areas to be able to access quality services like telemedicine, education, and skills through the use of digital technologies.

Digital IndiaPushing the Digital India initiative to the next level, the Narendra Modi government’s Digital Village or DigiGaon programme not only attempts to connect villages with Wi-Fi but also provide digital literacy to its residents and assist in entrepreneurship opportunities such as setting cottage industries for manufacturing candles, incense sticks or sanitary napkins.

Pushing the Digital India initiative to the next level, the Narendra Modi government’s Digital Village or DigiGaon programme not only attempts to connect villages with Wi-Fi but also provide digital literacy to its residents and assist in entrepreneurship opportunities such as setting cottage industries for manufacturing candles, incense sticks or sanitary napkins. With the center’s focus clearly on “digital inclusion”, this initiative will enable people in rural areas to be able to access quality services like telemedicine, education, and skills through the use of digital technologies.

The government plans to expand the initiative to 700 villages across the country by end of this year after starting a pilot project in six villages. In the initial phase, villages Piyala and Dayalpur (in Haryana), Chandankiyari East and Shiv Babudih (in Jharkhand) and Dhanauri Kalan and Sultanpur (in Uttar Pradesh) have been chosen for the pilot project.

This is what you need to know about the government’s DigiGaon initiative.

What is DigiGaon?

DigiGaon or Digital Village – an initiative first announced in the Union Budget 2017-18 – is conceptualized as a connected village where citizens can avail various e-services of the Central Government, State Governments and private players in rural and remote villages in the country. These DigiGaons are projected to be change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods through community participation and collective action, said a statement from the Ministry of Electronics and IT.

The digital villages have been equipped with solar lighting facility in their community center, LED assembly unit, sanitary napkin unit with active participation on Asha and Anganwadi workers and Wi-fi choupal. These villages would also have the regular Common Service Centres (CSC) services like banking, health, education, financial services, and a host of other services, it said.

How it works

The network of CSCs, which act as access points for delivery of various electronic services to villages in India, is set to be expanded to 2.50 lakh gram panchayats by the year-end, Union Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said while addressing an event at Dhanauri Kalan village. Prasad said that the CSC movement had transformed into a movement of change bringing services like banking, pensions, digital literacy, and telemedicine to rural and remote villages through electronic infrastructure.

“CSCs are working in 1.83 lakh gram panchayats and it will reach 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by end of the year. These villagers don’t have to go to a town to get services like banking or Jeevan beema,” The Indian Express quoted Ravi Shankar Prasad as saying. He added that the BharatNet project, under which the government is planning to bring internet connectivity via optic fiber to all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats, will serve as the backbone of the digital village initiative.

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