About 700 more Indian villages will receive internet connectivity, banking, and entrepreneurship facilities by the end of 2018 under the Digital Village or DigiGaon scheme. The electronics and IT ministry announced the initiative after launching a successful pilot in 6 Indian villages last year.
What is DigiGaon?
Started by the government of India to promote growth and entrepreneurship in the smaller, more remote regions of India, the DigiGaon program is aimed at empowering rural areas digitally. The initiative provides telemedicine, education, and other skills through digital technology. Services like LED electrification and WiFi are provided at a nominal cost.
Features of DigiGaon:
- Provide internet connectivity via WiFi for uninterrupted connectivity and usage.
- Encourage entrepreneurship to build up the cottage industry for products like hand-made incense sticks, candles, sanitary napkins etc.
- Bring out the smaller tier cities to adopt technology and use digital ways to transact online including banking, shopping and even education.
The first phase of the initiative will have a budget of Rs. 423 crore for over 3 years. This includes six months of Implementation period and 2.5 years of operation, maintenance service, and delivery.
The DigiGaon program will improve health and education services in rural areas. It will also empower SMEs by providing them an access to the digital services. Under this scheme, the government has teamed up with several banks to encourage digital payments and improve digital literacy.
Why Rural India?
Today, only 16% of rural India uses internet for financial purposes like online transactions, e-commerce activities, and digital payments.
Lack of electricity or long electricity shortages, poor network connectivity and expensive internet packages are just a few reasons for low internet usage in rural areas.
To encourage digital payments and eCommerce activities, the DigiGaon scheme is trying to increase the quality of WiFi. This gives the rural population an increased access to knowledge for longer periods of time.
Entrepreneurs can also undertake e-commerce activities and collect digital payments. This makes the process easier for both the buyer and seller.
Rajesh Gopinathan, the CEO of TCS said that “The proposed DigiGaon initiative to provide telemedicines, education and skills through digital technology will increase empowerment,”
Digital India has been a highlight of this year’s budget. The DigiGaon scheme will encourage more SMEs to undertake digital payments, provide entrepreneurship opportunities and greater access to conduct financial transactions.
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