Mohammad Ali was very enthusiastic when started Common Services Centre (CSC) in one of the Jammu and Kashmir villages. The zeal has gradually vanished as this budding entrepreneur finds himself helpless when a sudden wind storm snaps the power lines, which is crucial to continue the work at the centre. ‚ÄúWe barely get electricity for 6-7 hours a day. It‚Äôs impossible to run the centre smoothly in such a situation,‚ÄĚ said Ali.
Lack of training of CSC operators is another significant stumbling block. Many of the operators are clueless about the precise nature of the services they are supposed to deliver. It is the duty of the service centre agency to impart training to the CSC operators in the villages. But somehow the procedure is not followed most of the time, hampering the smooth functioning of the CSC across the country.
The CSC had been setup to provide a physical facility for delivery of e-Services by the Govt of India to the rural and remote locations where availability of computers and internet is currently negligible or absent. Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE) at the CSCs, as per the plan, were the key people to help achieve the goal of Digital India.Experts feel the intention of the Govt is good but its implementation is poor. Besides poor internet connectivity and lack of training, there are many other problems that are faced by operators in day-to-day functioning of CSC. Some of them are threat calls received by CSC operators and lack of awareness among villagers to avail the services.
Sunil Prasad (name changed) had started CSC in Darbhanga district of Bihar almost a year ago. He was providing many IT and computer-related services to villages such as data entry for Mnrega scheme, applying for resident proofs and many other services, etc. He is receiving threats from locals, who take commissions from the villagers for helping them in their work.
‚ÄúThe condition of VLEs is not as good as the government had promised,‚ÄĚ said Rakesh (name changed), who operates a CSC in remote area of Himachal Pradesh. At some places, the return on the investment has been satisfactory, while at other places, it has become a loss making proposition for operators as most of the people are not yet aware or keen to use the CSC services.
IT experts believe if the government wants successful running of these CSCs, the linked problems need to be addressed at the earliest. The whole system needs lots many improvements in the near future. Only then CSC can take India on the path of ‚ÄėDigital India‚Äô as dreamt by the Indian Pime Minister Narendra Modi. No doubt, the concept could be a game changer for rural India. But the Indian government has to put lots of efforts and make the latest technology reliable and reachable for the smooth running of these CSC centres. The IT Ministry, on its part, is optimistic about the success of CSC. It believes that these centres will act as milestone for digitisation.
Initially the Common Service Centre Scheme was approved by the Government of India in September 2006 .Later, on the same line‚ÄôCSC 2.0 ‚Äė was approved in August 2015 to envisage establishment of at least 2.5 lakhs CSCs covering all Gram Panchayats of the country over a period of four years. This would also include strengthening and integrating the existing one lakh CSCs already operational under the existing CSC scheme. Currently , there are almost 300 IT and computer-based services being provided by these centres to the villagers . The Ministry is trying to add more and more service and commercial activities on the list.
‚ÄúRecently an MoU was signed by the Ministry with Patanjali officials to sell Patanjali products through CSC,‚ÄĚ said K Dinesh Tyagi , CEO , Common Service Centre. Vey soon, through these centres, people would be able to place their order for different Ayurveda products of Patanjali, across the country . More focus is being given on treatment and sale of Ayurvedic medicines. To provide cheap and good quality Ayurvedic medicines to the rural sector is the top priority of this alliance. Currently, the CSC is providing allopathic services and medicine to rural and urban population with the collaboration of Apollo Hospital. They also have provisions for Homeopathic treatment and medicine.
‚ÄúThe aim to add Ayurveda is to provide holistic healthcare to the rural sector under one roof,‚ÄĚ said Tyagi . This system will provide opportunity to those people living in far flung areas and do not have the access to good doctors and different systems of treatments. Through CSC, they have a choice to choose among various systems of treatment and select accordingly. Teaching e-yoga to villagers is also a part of this tie-up.
To strengthen healthcare system in rural and far-flung areas, CSC has set up digital doctor centres. Till now, the ministry has set up four digital doctor centres under CSC e-scheme . Three in UP and one is in Maharashtra. ‚ÄúThe work is in progress to open digital doctor centre in the capital. Shortly, the Palam area of Delhi will get get one of the centres,‚ÄĚ said an official in the ministry. Within a few months, the ministry is planning to have more digital doctor centres specially in Andhra Pradesh, Jaipur, Telangana and Uttarakhand.
The operation of the CSC‚Äôs digital doctor centre is simple. Once a patient reaches the centre, he has the choice to consult an Allopathic, Homeopathic and Ayurveda doctor. ‚ÄúBesides consulting the doctors, patients can also buy medicines at affordable rates from CSC ‚ÄėJan Aushadhi stores‚Äô. These are the stores where patient get generic medicine at cheap prices. Till now 30 such stores have been set up. The govt is planning to set up more stores in the near future,‚ÄĚ Tyagi added.
The another important task to which CSC is gearing up is to provide maximum employment opportunity to rural youth. The programme ‚ÄúVillage Green with LED Bulbs‚ÄĚ has been launched by CSC. The IT ministry has already setup 30 manufacturing units in Telengana, UP and a few other states. Within a month, more than 100 villages will be covered under this programme. CSC is covering two major areas through this scheme. First, it will give opportunities to youth to enable them to earn money. Secondly, it will cut down electricity cost for the villagers who use these bulbs at their homes, shops. Above all, the LED manufacturing entrepreneurs are becoming part of ‚ÄúMake in India‚ÄĚ programme as well.
One of the top officials in the IT Ministry disclosed that ‚Äúyouth are very optimistic and interested in assembling such products, but lack of training hampers the success of this programme. We should provide proper training to those who have been enrolled in this scheme rather than giving more emphasis to expansion of this scheme, he added.
But on the other hand, the IT Ministry is hopeful that this mechanism should be able to generates good revenue for CSC . If each CSC generate at least Rs 1 lakh per month, it could become a big source of income for village-level entrepreneurs. Furthermore, LED made by these CSCs can also be procured by Energy Effective Services Ltd ( EESL) and ultimately the government can sell them to people on a subsidised rates . In some of the areas, the government has already started selling these bulbs .