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Government looks to educate 1 crore rural citizens on e-payments

Economic Times:  December, 2016

New Delhi: The government expects to make digitally literate as many as 1 crore people in rural India in a few days through the newly-launched Digi Dhan Abhiyan or digital financial literacy programme, launched on December 9.

“We aim to create 1 crore people digitally literate on e-payments, and in a matter of 3-4 days, the government can touch this figure in rural India,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister for electronic and IT as well as law and justice, said at the launch of The Economic Times CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Compendium. Corporates featured in the book include Reliance, Unilever, Aditya Birla Group, Bajaj group and Fortis.

The government has also launched a website—DigitalJagrati.in—to track real-time statistics on the digital financial literacy scheme. Government data on Thursday revealed that 48 lakh citizens were registered with 47 lakh Aadhaarenabled payment system (AEPS) in addition to 1.35 lakh small merchants who were trained through 2,100 sensitisation drives primarily at the village level.

On the back of demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes on November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government is promoting cashless economy in a big way, and the initiative has garnered massive support from people in rural India. Stressing upon the need to align CSR goals with the ambitious ‘Digital India’ programme, Prasad said social activities by private sector companies could provide a helping hand to startups.

“Government has a limitation but the private sector can come along to promote innovation. Startups coming up with extraordinary products should be encouraged by CSR initiative,” he said.

Prasad added that such CSR funds by companies should also be used for cleaning at least 10 villages alongside river Ganga to imbibe the changing culture. The minister, however, said the government was not satisfied with the private sector’s efforts towards building toilets, as part of the Swachh Bharat initiative.

As per Swachhta Status Report 2016 released by the National Sample Survey, less than 1% private firms contributed in toilets construction in schools under the cleanliness mission. Swachch Bharat has been a major government initiative since it came it power over two years back.

Prasad said the present government has come to transform India, and programmes such as Digital India, Make in India, Skill India and Smart City, are transformative in nature.