About 700 digital villages will be set up by year-end: Ravi Shankar Prasad

The urban-rural divide, which is prevalent all over the country, seems to be more evident in the non-descript Dhanauri Kalan village at Gautam Budh Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh.

Although it’s not too far from the F1 circuit, which is well connected to expressways, the few kilometers of travel on a narrow road filled with potholes could be an arduous task.

The people residing in the village have to go to town even for basic necessities as there are no facilities available in the village. 

However, the government aims to bridge the divide, not by building better roads but by setting up a digital infrastructure, which will empower the villagers to fulfill their basic needs like education, health or purchase if groceries.

The local Common Service Centre (CSC) will provide broadband connectivity via optic fibre cables to 100 homes. Also, there will be a Wi-Fi choupal allowing people to access internet for as little as Rs 15. Besides internet connectivity, the CSC is also working as a banking correspondent allowing villagers to withdraw money from the Aadhaar-linked bank accounts. It will pave way for meeting doctors using the telemedicine facility and get education through the digital literacy scheme.

To provide employment to the local people, a sanitary napkin making unit has been established along with LED and candle making facilities. People can also buy Patanjali products at the centre.

Electronics and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who visited the village, said, “CSCs are working in 180,000 gram panchayats and very soon it will reach 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by the year end.” 

Currently 2.91 CSCs operate in the country. Positioned as strategic cornerstones of the Digital India programme, the CSC model has adopted six villages  on a pilot basis. “About 700 digital villages will be set up by the year-end,” Prasad said. DigiGaon or Digital Village has been conceptualised as a connected village where citizens can avail various e-services of the central government, state governments and private players in even remote villages.

These DigiGaons are projected to be change agents, promoting rural entrepreneurship and building rural capacities and livelihoods through community participation and collective action. The digital villages have been equipped with solar lighting facility in their community centre, LED assembly unit, sanitary napkin unit (with active participation of Asha and Anganwadi workers) and Wi-Fi choupal (rural Wi-Fi infrastructure and a slew of suitable applications).

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