The Cabinet, with PM Narendra Modi in attendance, today met in the wake of the Rajya Sabha being adjourned for the day. In the late evening meet, Cabinet cleared the ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’. In addition to that, the Cabinet also approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between India and Senegal in the field of Health and Medicine. In another major move, Cabinet was apprised of Framework Agreement between India and Vietnam on cooperation in exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
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The ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ has been granted an outlay of Rs 2,351.38 crore with the objective of making 6 crore rural households digitally literate by March 2019. The intent of the government is to usher in digital literacy in rural India by March 2019. This is in line with the announcement made by the Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2016-17. An official statement added that the scheme is expected to be one of the largest digital literacy programmes in the world.
Taking it towards that goal would be its intent to train as many as 25 lakh candidates in the fiscal year 2016-17, 275 lakh in FY 2017-18 and a whopping 300 lakh in FY 2018-19.
The government expects the scheme to be implemented at the grassroots level. Starting with gram panchayats, as many as 250,000 of them will have to register an average of 200-300 candidates.
The learning to be disseminated will enable these candidates to operate computers and be able to get digital access to devices like tablets and smartphones, be able to send and receive emails, browse internet, and search for information. Significantly two other goals are to undertake cashless transactions and access government services. The supervising and implementing agency will be the Ministry of Electronics and IT in active collaboration with states and union territories.
The data at the moment is depressing. 71st NSSO Survey on Education 2014 figures show that only 6 per cent of 16.85 rural households have a computer implying that more than 15 crore rural households do not have computers and a significant number of these households are likely to be digitally illiterate.
This Digital India scheme would cover 6 crore households in rural areas to make them digitally literate.
As the thrust of the government is on cashless transactions through mobile phones, the course content would also have emphasis on Digital Wallets, Mobile Banking, Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) and Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AEPS), the statement said.
(With inputs from PTI)