31 years old Anita Rani belongs to SC community and lives in Barwa, one of the most backward villages in Thanesar Block in Haryana. She is an empowered woman today. She said she loves studying but wasn’t able to complete her formal education. After much effort and encouragement by her husband she has been able to complete class 10 and wants to continue her studies. Her real turning point was when she was introduced to the Internet through CSC WiFi Choupal by VLE Khemchand. With the help of the Internet, she has not only been able to continue her studies but also running a cyber café where she has employed 3 women from her community. Even basic connectivity is a challenge, yet it doesn’t dither her from doing the awesome work she is doing.
There are hundreds of women like Anita Rani who have been empowered by CSC Wi Fi Choupal in Thanesar block in Haryana. Not only Barwa, thousands of families in Pindarsi, Ghararsi, Jinjarpur, Barna, Hathira, Kirmach, Kunwar Kheri, Shadipur, Tigri Khalsa, Bir Amin villages in Kurukshetra in Haryana are getting internet connectivity due to VLE Khemchand’s WiFi Choupal initiative.
The VLE has employed 20 people at his centre to deliver CSC services like WiFi Choupal, Fastag, Economic Census, PMGDISHA.
Many rural, remote and minority communities in Thanesar block were actively seeking new opportunities to drive economic growth, but faced constraints in the absence of adequate broadband access and the necessary skills. In terms of infrastructure, for example, businesses need fast, reliable connection speeds to process purchase orders and payments, participate in online commerce, and stay competitive in an increasingly digital economy. At the same time, anchor institutions in rural areas in Haryana such as schools and hospitals need broadband connectivity to efficiently treat information and provide public services. Now, CSC WiFi Choupal is fulfilling all these needs efficiently in Thanesar Block.
The increasing use of digital technologies in Barwa and nearby villages in Thanesar is ushering in the digital transformation of economies and societies. Not only does this transformation facilitate new services, products and applications. It has the power to change how people live and work.
Expanding network connectivity across these villages has opened up digital services that many of us now take for granted. Mobile Banking, Whatsapp Chatting and video, Tele-medicine, e-education have only become possible with reliable internet connectivity through CSC WiFi Choupal service of VLE Khemchand.
For those populations, access to the internet through WiFi Choupal means being able to save, invest and borrow money, getting an education, having access to basic healthcare, and being able to trade with bigger markets; are all fundamental to socio-economic advancement. That has been a powerful force fueling economic growth over the past decade across many advanced cities in India.
VLE Khemchand says, “They are benefitting local people and poor communities. WiFi Choupal has become a powerful tool to improve their livelihoods and to provide new economic and social opportunities, particularly for young people like beneficiary Anita Rani. They are directly getting connected with the rest of the world and overcoming social exclusion providing a “digital bridge” out of poverty.”
Bridging gender digital divide
The emerging digital economy enabled by CSC WiFi Choupal in Thanesar offers women increased flexibility in terms of the hours and where they work, thus potentially increasing their participation in the labour force and improving their quality of life. Evidence also shows that digital services and applications can connect women-led businesses to a larger customer base far more effectively than attempts to do so off line. Both digital banking and payment systems through CSC are leveling the playing field for women in terms of access to financial services.
Using digital banking and payment are significantly reducing the amount of time spent travelling to and waiting in line for a physical point of payment, bank or ATM. Moreover, the use of digital tools for professional purposes are reducing the hours women spend on unpaid work; adoption by many businesses of telecommuting practices are also making it easier for women to remain in the workforce if they so choose.
VLE Khemchand says, “The digital transformation through CSC in Thanesar has opened a range of opportunities for small enterprises. It has also encouraged product and service innovation, improved their market intelligence, eased their access to talent, facilitated access to financing, and ultimately enhanced their competitiveness in local markets.” These small enterprises play a vital role in India through their contribution to employment and inclusive growth. The digital transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) means not only enhancing their access to information and communication technologies (ICTs), but also enhancing the uptake and use of digital applications and services. Together, these improvements can foster the digital transformation within economies and societies that are needed to turn the use of digital services and applications into concrete opportunities in Haryana.