The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir presents various challenges in terms of terrain, connectivity, digital penetration and digital literacy. The CSC network in Jammu and Kashmir has been creating stories of success to showcase real change and the tremendous potential the Union Territory has.
Access to governance and citizenship services is not only an entitlement but also critical for integration with the national development process through participation in the growth opportunities created by India’s rapid progress towards a digitally-empowered polity and economy.
The Common Service Centers (CSC) with their mandate to bring e-governance and services at the doorsteps of citizens, especially in rural and underserved areas or communities, are playing an instrumental role in creating access points, entrepreneurial opportunities, digital infrastructure and digital literacy needed for achieving the potential for emerging as the leading knowledge economy as envisioned through the Digital India campaign.
The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir presents challenges in terms of terrain, connectivity, digital penetration, harsh climate and limited economic opportunities, coupled with low levels of digital literacy.
Digital inclusion and access to opportunities that the Digital India campaign has fostered is the key to integration in national economy and development processes. The CSC network in Jammu and Kashmir has been creating stories of success to showcase real change and the tremendous potential the Union Territory has.
From 891 centers in 2014, the CSC network in the State had grown four-fold to 3,158 by the end of June 2019. There are 4,204-gram panchayats in the State, of which 2,455 have been covered by CSCs.
Unemployment in the region of Jammu & Kashmir has been a major concern with policy makers. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), the monthly average unemployment rate for Jammu & Kashmir has been at 15 percent since last three years. Expansion of CSCs to cover all gram panchayats of the UT can spur employment in the region as each CSC employs minimum 5-6 persons for delivering various G2C, B2C, digital literacy, Education, financial and health services.
By providing access to technology and education and skill development initiatives, CSCs can contribute towards creating a socially and digitally inclusive society in the Union Territory. Pradhan Mantri Digital Saksharta Abhiyan, a flagship scheme for promoting digital literacy among rural masses, is being implemented through CSCs. Around 6 crore citizens across the country are to be made digitally literate by 2020. Till June 2019, 2.25 crore citizens have been made digitally literate across the country under the scheme, whereas in Jammu and Kashmir, 2.65 lakh citizens have been trained in digital literacy.
With the region witnessing constant strife, education is one area that has suffered the most. CSCs through their digital technology deliver a range of educational courses to citizens, for example, NIELIT, IGNOU and NIOS courses, English Speaking course, Tally courses, Tele-Centre Entrepreneur course, Government Job Entrance Training, CAD, Preparation for IIT/JEE/BITSAT/NEET, ITI Registration, Scholarship Programme, and skill-based training programmes. In order to cater to the needs of skilled workers for the Industry, CSCs can step in to provide training to the youth of the region.
As per RBI guidelines, every village with a population of 5000 should have banking services available. However, in Jammu and Kashmir there are 92 villages that are completely unbanked. CSCs are engaged in advancing financial inclusion as per the mandate of the government through Banking, Insurance and Aadhaar-based Digi Pay services. In Jammu & Kashmir, there are 35 active Banking Correspondents (BC), who have carried out transactions worth Rs. 4 crore through banking services to citizens in the financial year 2018-19. Another 669 CSCs have become Banking Facilitators through CSCs partnership with the HDFC Bank. With more and more CSCs becoming Banking Facilitators through HDFC Bank, CSCs will reach out to almost all of the unbanked villages in the region.
In a State where access to healthcare is crucial due to its topography and conflict situation, CSCs can step up to provide access to healthcare for masses through its tele-medicine consultations for allopathy, Ayurveda and Homeo, diagnostic services and access to quality generic medicines through Jan Aushadhi Stores.
CSC SPV partnered with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in July 2018 to implement the Ayushman Bharat scheme through the CSC network. Since then, 2,953 CSCs have been engaged in registering 8.50 lakh beneficiaries under the scheme and issuing Golden Cards to 5.14 lakh citizens in the mountainous and inaccessible regions of the State, enabling access to quality healthcare for them.
By providing a range of services related to e-governance, finance, health, education and skilling to the citizens of the State, especially in remote and inaccessible areas, we hope the CSC VLEs would contribute to transformation of Jammu & Kashmir through digital inclusion and economic growth.