Cover story: Social Enterprises in India: An Overview
National WASH Conclave – 2022
Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development Releases 40th Year Special of Journal of Rural Development
NIRDPR Organises Regional Offline Training Programme on Community-Based Forest Management & Role of PRIs at SIRD, Ranchi
Tracing the History of ICT Applications for Rural Development in India
SIRD&PR, Mizoram Organises ToT, Capacity Building Programme for Women, and Awareness Campaign
Social Enterprises in India: An Overview
Despite being the second-fastest growing economy after China, the latest World Economic Report 2022 stated India as a “poor and very unequal country, with an affluent elite,” where 57 per cent of the national income is held by the top 10 per cent, while the share of the bottom 50 per cent was merely 13 per cent in 2021. Having ranked 131 out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index (UNDP, 2020), the country is battling socio-economic issues such as illiteracy, malnutrition, poor healthcare, etc.
In such a scenario, social enterprises balance the triple bottom line: People, Planet & Profit. Social entrepreneurship is a relatively new term and only came into notice a few decades ago. The term social enterprise (SE) has multiple definitions across the world. However, there are three common themes across all these definitions and discussions. It is a revenue-generating model having the primary purpose of delivering social and environmental goods and reinvesting the profit into the enterprise’s cause. It is the concept of integrating social development aims with profit-making. It is essentially an enterprise, in any legal form, introducing an innovative and effective approach towards solving social problems.
Model of Social Enterprise and Why is it Relevant Today?
The social sector has been historically grant-funded. This means that philanthropic individuals, corporates, or public systems have been providing funds and other support based on the entrepreneurs’ impact and social work created, often not expecting any returns other than just evidence of impact. This funding has been highly beneficial in areas where commercial models are challenging or the solutions are risky and require a high degree of experimentation or innovation. Besides, at a very early stage, enterprises also gain from these grant funds as they can utilise them to ameliorate their business model and sharpen their offerings. Over the past few years, there has been a tacit understanding that in some cases, ‘grant’ or ‘free funds’ might not be the best way to have a social impact and might not be able to create a growth-based ecosystem. This realisation might have also come from the lack of sustainable results and a high amount of pilferage that some social organisations have unfortunately shown. Also, the argument has been that the ‘social mindset’ and ‘free funds’ also have retarded professional behaviour and innovation, often leading to heavy wastage and high resource drain. As such, economic recessions in recent years and the drying up of grant fund usage served as a significant deterrent for these donors.
This is where social enterprises came into play with their full revenue-generating model, offering new alternatives to traditional financially unsustainable charities that embraced homegrown innovation and were more impact-oriented.
Historical Growth of Social Enterprises in India
The practice of social entrepreneurship can be dated back to the 19th century with the introduction of the cooperative model, which was formalised in the year 1904. Today, India is referred to as a social enterprise superpower by Think, a social action think-tank and action hub, and a hotbed for social enterprise by Beyond Profit magazine. India has been one of the leading countries in the SE movement and has benefited from the growth of social enterprises.
Key Drivers Facilitating Growth
Direct, indirect, financial, and advisory assistance from support organisations can be attributed to India witnessing considerable growth in its social enterprise activity in the past decade. A small number of accelerators in the country directly support Social Enterprises by facilitating access to funding, mentoring, workshops, training, refining innovation, and providing research support. Impact investors also assist social enterprises in multiple stages of their business- from the seed stage to the growth stage. A significant network of government agencies, consultancy service providers, multilateral & donor agencies, corporations, chambers of commerce & industry associations, cooperative federations, etc., contribute as critical drivers to aid in the growth of this sector.
Reasons for Growth of Social Enterprises
Growing as an emerging trend in the post-2007-2009 financial crisis across the world, social enterprises have taken root in an increasing number of circles today, ranging from international development to impact investing and even public policy. The decentralised nature of the Indian government, coupled with the rising entrepreneurial ecosystem, led to the growth of social entrepreneurship in the country. Several vital factors predominantly contributed to the rise of social enterprises in India.
Firstly, the political environment of India favours the development of the social enterprise sector in the country. The limited role of the government accommodates the presence of the private sector and civil societies to enter the space and address the socio-economic issues. Post-1990, India unleashed its economic potential by ensuring massive deregulations and privatisation, shrinking the role of the government while empowering non-State actors to take on a more significant role.
Secondly, limited government regulations encourage experimentation and innovation among social enterprises in the country. This is further supported by the unobstructed government’s legal and regulatory policies that facilitate ease of doing business. In India, the government has simple procedures for NGO formation and operations.
Further, promotion and support by governing bodies form the crux of a legal environment dedicated to fostering such enterprises’ growth. The Social Stock Exchange was announced to be set up by the Government of India under the ambit of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
Thirdly, India garners significant attention and emphasises various socio-economic issues worldwide. The public policy making bodies have realised the importance of these enterprises as one of the key instruments for sustainable poverty alleviation. This has encouraged the formation of such institutions. Social and cultural environments also work to drive social entrepreneurship over time.
Lastly, the Indian social enterprise sector benefits from an ecosystem of institutional support in financing, expertise, and networking that helps develop these businesses from the idea stage to eventual execution. As per the Impact Investors Council (India), impact investors injected around $1.2 bn in India during the second wave of COVID-19.
Future of Social Enterprise Development/Where is it Going?
The Farmer Producer Organisations, often lauded as new-age cooperatives, are also a form of social enterprise by design and have the potential to achieve scale. FPOs created a renewed interest in the collectives’ movement to overcome the cooperative model’s structural issues and infused professionalism and business orientation into it. The current push by the Government of India to promote 10,000+ FPOs in the country will also take the social enterprise boom to the next level. The creation of a new Ministry of Cooperation by the Government of India is one of the first steps forward in revitalising the 2,00,000 odd cooperative societies across the country. It will be a path-breaking phenomenon in the era of the promotion of social enterprises. National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), the world’s most extensive poverty alleviation programme operational in 29 States and five UTs, is working strenuously to form, nurture, and strengthen Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and Cluster Level Organisations to create sustainable women-based social enterprises. NABARD is partnering with several institutions and organisations to evolve an ecosystem to establish sustainable Social Enterprise Models.
With governments and other organisations worldwide increasingly striving to achieve the UN SDGs- not to mention a plethora of upcoming entrepreneurs aiming to create social impact through their work, it remains crucial to see how traditional businesses integrate social enterprise thinking and lead by examples. Consequently, to make SEs work better, it is necessary to build an ecosystem that will enable them to thrive and flourish. Social Stock Exchange could be the first step in the right direction. For India to become a global hub of the social enterprise sector, it is necessary to create awareness about social enterprises and motivate social entrepreneurs. This can be achieved by educating youth about social issues early. This results in the social enterprise sector fostering the growth of more inclusive, sustainable, and accountable enterprises/businesses that, at its core, care about intervening in tackling pressing global problems.
Dr. A. Debapriya,
Centre for Post Graduate Studies & Distance Education, NIRDPR
National WASH Conclave – 2022
The National WASH Conclave 2022 – “WASH Forward: Advancing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Panchayats” was organised by National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, in collaboration with Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, WaterAid and other development partners during 23rd to 25th February, 2022 virtually.
The three-day virtual conclave focused on ‘advancing water, sanitation and hygiene at Panchayats’ and aimed at bringing government and all WASH sector players on a platform to deliberate, reflect, share, and learn from the experiences on effective delivery of WASH services by Gram Panchayats including ways to improve resilience to future pandemics and major disruptions, including climate change.
Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR delivered the welcome address. Ms. Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF India representative spoke on the role of development partners, CSOs and about private sector participation on WASH in India. The keynote address was delivered by Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Hon’ble Minister of Jal Shakti, Government of India.
Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Hon’ble Vice-President of India, delivered the inaugural address and released the conclave handbook. He emphasised the importance of safe drinking water, sanitation for good health and well-being, and the need to ensure that every household has access to all the basic facilities – the most essential of them being WASH-related. Recognising the enormity of the undertaking, which is delivering safe drinking water and sanitation to every household, Shri Venkaiah Naidu stated that “this can be realised only if a vast array of players join hands with singular focus and determination.”
Representatives and officials from relevant ministries of the Government of India and State governments, including districts, sub-districts, and GPs attended the conclave. Other participants included WASH sector professionals, development partners, civil society organisations, private sector, academia and media.
The conclave had four plenaries, 16 technical sessions and 103 panellists (government – 27, elected representatives – 16, civil society – 31, multilateral institutions – 23 and academia and research – 6) and the sessions were facilitated by sector experts from various domains. More than 3,600 participants attended the Conclave from all States, as well as from the Union Territories and other countries.
In the valedictory ceremony, Shri V.K. Madhavan, Chief Executive, WaterAid India summarised the three-day conclave. Dr. Roderico H. Ofrin, Representative, World Health Organization – India delivered the special address. Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR presented the call to action and way forward.
The valedictory addresses were delivered by Ms. Vini Mahajan, Secretary, Ministry of Jal Shakti and Mr. Sunil Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of Panchayati Raj. The concluding remarks were delivered by Ms. Meital Rusdia, Chief, UNICEF, Hyderabad Field Office, and Mr. Nicolas Osbert, Chief of WASH, UNICEF India.
At the end of the three-day deliberations, the participants of the National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Conclave 2022 adopted the ‘Call to Action’, which is a collection of recommendations and suggestions from all the deliberations that took place during the three-day conclave.
Government and external agencies will endeavour to support Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) by ensuring adequate human and financial resources and capacities to manage water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services that are sustainable, inclusive, affordable, gender transformative, climate-resilient, and environmentally safe.
Towards this, the following measures are to be undertaken at different levels:
Local Government or Gram Panchayat (GP) Level
1. Enhancing capacities of GPs, VWSCs and local WASH professionals
2. Facilitating GPs to understand, adhere to and comply with service-level benchmarks
3. Facilitating PRIs in integrating infection prevention and control through WASH services
4. Equipping each GP with at least one trained technical resource person
Supporting GPs in:
5. Developing participatory and contextualised annual WASH plans integrated within the GPDP
6. Promoting revenue generation models
7. Implementing regulations to protect the welfare and dignity of sanitation workers
8. Establishing and implementing a robust WASH monitoring system with the provision of feedback loops with communities
9. Developing and adopting context-specific strategies and approaches
10. Taking responsibility for WASH services in all institutions
District and Sub-district Level
- Activate district and sub-district water and sanitation committees
2. Establish effective systems for the pooling of financial resources
3. Identify and engage sector specialists, master trainers, government and non-government support agencies
4. Hold regular training of field functionaries and frontline staff from relevant departments,
KRCs, NGOs, etc.
5. Establish WASH helpline centres
6. Undertake periodic district-specific communication campaigns to create and sustain the jan andolan (people’s movement) for WASH
7. Establish and strengthen grievance redressal systems
8. Support GPs in establishing flexible and performance-based contractual processes to scale-up the engagement of WASH professionals and service providers
National and State Level
1. Prioritise the above measures for GPs and districts within AIPs and budgets
2. Establish and apply comprehensive service level benchmarks and regulatory frameworks
3. Orient decision-makers and officials of various institutions concerned with change management
4. Support capacity enhancement of all SIRDs and other training institutions/KRCs at the State and district levels
5. Coordinate, support and facilitate the engagement of CSOs
6. Improve the coordination of State departments contributing to WASH services in communities, schools, AWCs, healthcare facilities and public places
7. Support the development of GP by-laws, at the State level
8. Conduct regular field assessments, including independent evaluations.
The programme was coordinated by Dr. R. Ramesh, Associate Professor & Head, CRI, NIRDPR, Hyderabad.
Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development Releases 40th Year Special Issue of Journal of Rural Development
Shri Narendra Nath Sinha, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development released the Journal of Rural Development’s 40th-year special edition on 18th February, 2022 virtually. Journal of Rural Development began in the year 1982 and has been publishing papers on rural development since then. The journal is indexed in Scopus and UGC-CARE list.
Dr. Jyothis Sathyapalan, Prof. and Head, Centre for Documentation Development and Communication, National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj welcomed the dignitaries.
Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR thanked Secretary Rural Development for gracing the event. He spoke about the history of JRD and how articles penned by torchbearers in that particular topic published in the earlier issues were identified for the special issue. Further, he threw some light on the committee constituted to bring out this edition and selection of the subject expert for writing an introductory article covering all the selected titles. Dr. Narendra Kumar, IAS recommended that a special edition of Journal of Rural Development on poverty alleviation should be brought out as it is a pertinent issue in the arena of rural development.
Prof. Rajasekhar, Director, Institute of Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru who wrote the introductory article for this edition, spoke about the issue. He thanked Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, DG, NIRDPR for the opportunity and supported his views on this issue. He gave a brief presentation on each topic and detailed the processes followed in writing the article connecting the selected papers.
Shri Narendra Nath Sinha, IAS, Secretary said that it is a proud moment for NIRDPR to release the 40th year special edition of JRD published by NIRDPR. “The journal has carried prominent articles which have been put together for a special edition. The themes of rural development are multifarious,” he said, adding that any journal focussing on rural development should cover multiple topics, such as decentralised governance, land reforms, e-governance, agricultural transformation, rural livelihoods and sustainability. The Secretary wanted the journal to focus on the themes and subjects concerning the bottlenecks of development and ways to overcome them. “Also, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the rural life and papers discussing the policy implications for bettering the lives of rural people should be published,” he added.
Dr. Akanksha Shukla, Associate Prof., CPGS& DE and former Head (i/c), CDC gave the vote of thanks. She thanked all the people who were instrumental in bringing out the special edition. The programme was attended by faculty, staff and other stakeholders.
NIRDPR Organises Regional Offline Training Programme on Community-Based Forest Management & Role of PRIs at SIRD, Ranchi
The Centre for Natural Resource Management, Climate Change & Disaster Mitigation, National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, organised a training programme on Community-Based Forest Management & Role of PRIs at the State Institute of Rural D, Ranchi.
On the first day, Dr. Subrat Kumar Mishra, Associate Professor, CNRMCC&DM and Co- Programme Director, highlighted the five-day programme schedule and objectives, such as Concepts of Community Based Forest Management – A Critical Overview & Role of PRIs. Later, Dr. Kiran Jalem, Assistant Professor, CNRMCC&DM and Programme Director, outlined the key points of Facilitation Skills for Community Mobilisation along with SIRD Faculty and local coordinator Shri Rajeev Ranjan. A total of 35 officials from the Forest Department, Government of Jharkhand attended the training programme.
The programme consisted of field demonstrations, hands-on exercises and quiz to test the trainee’s knowledge on the sessions pertaining to various aspects of Community-Based Forest Management, such as Vanadhikar Kanoon (Forest Rights) and Van Patta Adhiniyam in Jharkhand, Addressing the Grievance Redressal between Forest Workers & Local Communities, Understanding Forest Management through Remote Sensing Perspective, Understanding the service provisions relevant circulars & orders of Government, important service rules, Financial provisions and Record-Keeping in Government Offices, Forest Right Act, 2006, Rights of Tribal Communities and Forest Dwellers, SDG Goal 13- Climate Change & Goal 15- Sustainable Management of Forest & Biodiversity Conservation, Participatory Need Assessment of the Forest Department Community through PRA tool, Convergence of different Developmental Programmes and schemes for Sustainable Forest Management, Rights and Responsibilities of PESA Panchayat & its Intervention in Community Forest Management, Assets Creation in Watershed & Other Livelihood Dependency of Local Communities around Forests, and Role of Communities in Forest Disaster Management.
The participants of the training programme were taken to a nearby model Ara-Keram village to demonstrate the best practices being followed by local communities in managing common property resources like forest and water, etc.
The programme was a success as per the feedback received from the participants. The overall performance given by the participants is 77 per cent. The programme was coordinated by Dr. Kiran Jalem, Assistant Professor, CNRMCC&DM, Dr. Subrat Ku Mishra, Associate Professor, CNRMCC&DM and Shri. Rajeev Ranjan, Faculty, SIRD, Ranchi, Jharkhand.
Tracing the History of ICT Applications for Rural Development in India
In the present information era, the world has become a global village with the effective use of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) applications in many areas of business, government and society. ICTs introduced Small Office Home Offices (SOHO) system by bringing in the concepts like online meetings and video conferencing. With the introduction of modern ICT applications, the past modes of business in terms of delivering services to citizens are being challenged and sometimes abolished in both developed and developing countries. ICTs are indeed generating new possibilities to solve the problems of rural poverty, inequality and environmental degradation.
India is using the ICT applications for economic development in key sectors, such as health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, finance, manufacturing, governance and to deliver essential services to rural the population. ICT applications in governance offer new and important pathways to sustainable development including service-led growth, improved education, speedy and transparent public service delivery, provision of information on agricultural practices, filing of taxes, etc.
ICT and Rural Development
In the past, a nation’s development largely depended on the availability of natural resources, its labour force and its accumulated capital base. But in the 21st century, the emphasis is on knowledge and its various embodied forms. ICTs permit information and knowledge to expand in quantity and accessibility. There are several fields where ICTs can be used for the sustainable development of a country.
There are several components that play an important role in attaining the goal of sustainable development of a country. The components are Basic Human Needs and Development (food, healthcare, drinking water, primary education), Economic growth and poverty reduction (agriculture growth/development, higher education, job creation, e-commerce), Infrastructure Development (energy, water, transportation), Environment & Natural Resource Management and Empowerment and Governance (national and international inclusiveness, democracy, e-Governance). E-governance initiatives in India took a broader dimension in the mid-1990s for wider sectoral applications with an emphasis on citizen-centric services. The major ICT initiatives of the government included, inter alia, some major projects, such as railway computerisation, land record computerisation, etc., which focused mainly on the development of information systems. Later on, many States started ambitious individual e-governance projects aimed at providing electronic services to citizens.
There are two types of potential economic gains from the use of ICTs in rural development. First, there are both static and dynamic efficiency gains. The static gains are one-time and come from more efficient use of scarce resources, allowing higher consumption in the present. The dynamic gains come from higher growth, potentially raising the entire future stream of consumption. Reductions in transaction costs can increase growth rates as well as provide static efficiency gains. The second type of potential benefit comes from reductions in economic inequality to an extent. Hence, the focus on using ICTs for rural development is to support the interventions for reduced inequality along with increased efficiency and growth.
ICT for Rural Development: Indian Experiences
India is a country of villages and around 65 per cent of India’s population resides in rural areas. About 50 per cent of the villages have poor Physical Quality of Life Indicators (PQLI). The rural character of India’s economy is reflected in the high proportion of its population living in rural areas with the rural sector contributing about 29 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Hence, rural development, which is concerned with economic growth and social justice, and improvement in the living standards of the rural people, becomes essential.
Since the dawn of Independence, many efforts have been made to improve the living standards of the rural masses in India. The strategies of rural development in India focuses primarily on poverty alleviation, better livelihood opportunities, provision of basic amenities and infrastructure through innovative programmes of wage and self-employment. However, the rural masses are facing challenges that include the problems of poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy. These problems and challenges can be overcome through effective utilisation of technology in the rural areas for increasing agricultural productivity, stimulating people towards self-help and self-reliance and contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of the individuals.
In the last three decades, several ICT-led e-Governance projects have been attempted in India to offer the government services by improving the reach, enhancing the base, minimising the processing costs, increasing transparency and reducing the cycle times. Several States have initiated the creation of State Wide Area Networks (SWAN) to facilitate electronic access of the State and district administration services to the citizens in villages. The ICTs had made in-roads into the Indian Rural Development domain as early as 1986 when the Computerised Rural Information Systems Project (CRISP) was launched by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD). Under this project, every district in the country was provided with computers and a software called CRISP (later re-named as RuralSoft) to help District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs) in managing MoRD’s programmes more efficiently. The main aim of the project was to facilitate the staff of DRDAs in the monitoring of poverty alleviation schemes through a Computer-Based Information System (CBIS). Under the CRISP, the products such as Rural Bazar, RuralSoft2000, PriaSoft, eNRICH, DRDA portals, RuralSoft Financial Accounting Software (FAS) and Smart Village Project were developed to facilitate sustainable holistic development and empowerment at the grassroots level.
The following table provides the details of the important ICT-led rural development initiatives implemented by different organisations in India during the last three decades:
Table 1: Important e-Governance projects implemented in Rural India
|Name of the Initiative
|The Gyandoot project was initiated in January 2000, in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh. Gyandoot is a low cost, self-sustainable, and community-owned rural intranet system (Soochnalaya) that provides services, including agricultural information, market information, health, education, women’s issues, and applications for services delivered by the district administration related to land ownership, affirmative action, and poverty alleviation by levying user charges.
|In 2000, Indian Tobacco Company (ITC) Limited launched e-Choupal, an initiative to link directly with rural farmers for procurement of agricultural/aquaculture produce like soyabean, wheat, coffee, and prawns. With e-Choupal, the farmers have a choice and the exploitative power of the middleman is neutralised.
|Information Village Research Project, Puducherry
|The Information Village Research Project (IVRP) was started by M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) in January 1998 in Villianur village of Puducherry. Under the project, services such as information on health, crops, weather, and fishing conditions were provided. The unique feature of the project was that the activities of the project were maintained by the local community.
|Kerala is the first State in India to implement a district-wide e-literacy project ‘Akshaya’ in 2002, with the aim of ‘Empowering Kerala’. The objective is to address the issues of digital divide in the State in an integrated and holistic way by providing ICT access to all sections of the society, and development of minimum skill sets for all the people through functional IT Literacy training.
|Warana Wired Village project, Maharashtra
|It is an innovative project in the Warana region of Maharashtra that enables sugarcane farmers to interface with a cooperative sugar factory through computers. This was launched by the IT Task Force of the Prime Minister’s Office to demonstrate the use of ICT to accelerate the socio-economic development of a cluster with 70 villages around Warana in the Kolhapur and Sangli districts of Maharashtra.
|Drishtee Village Information Kiosks
|Drishtee is an organisational platform created in 1999 and operated in the States of Rajasthan, Haryana, Bihar, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. E-governance services were provided in the kiosks such as filing grievances, land records, driver’s licence, etc., and some kiosks offer private services such as computer training, insurance and internet access for e-mail and web browsing, etc.
|TARAhaat, Uttar Pradesh
|TARAhaat, named after the all-purpose haat (meaning a village bazaar), was started in 1999 by Development Alternatives (DA), and Technology and Action for Rural Advancement (TARA). TARAhaat Kendra started in 2000 in Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh. These ‘kendras’ provide education services for rural youth, partial e-governance services like licences, certificates, etc. Other services include DTP, computer education, entertainment, photo, agricultural news, etc.
|Bhoomi Project (Karnataka): Online Delivery of Land Records
|Bhoomi was a flagship project of the Karnataka State Government launched in 2000 to digitise all land records in the State to prevent corruption and manipulation of data. It is jointly funded by the Government of India and Government of Karnataka. Land related documents like Record of Rights, Tenancy, and Crop (RTC) information or Pahani, Mutation report were digitised and kiosk centres were set up to make these records available to the citizen/farmer.
|KHAJANE (Karnataka): End-to-end automation of Government Treasury System
|In 1999, the Government of Karnataka initiated the Khajane project for the computerisation of the 200+ treasuries spread across the State. It has been implemented mainly to eliminate systemic deficiencies in the manual treasury system and for the efficient management of State finances.
|The pilot e-district project was launched in June 2008 in Kerala for making all government services accessible to the common man in his/her locality, through Akshaya outlets and to ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services. The e-district application has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC). The e-District project intends to provide government services to citizens through Common Service Centres (CSC).
|Project Ashwini was implemented in Andhra Pradesh by the ‘Byrraju Foundation’, in 2005 in partnership with UNDP/NISG and Media Lab Asia, which is proactively engaged in leveraging ICTs to grassroots developmental issues enabling the village populace. Under the purview of Ashwini, several extension services were initiated like ‘V-Agri’ (Virtual Agriculture), ‘Community TV’ and ‘Ancient Wisdom through Modern Technology’.
|Community Information Centres (CICs)
|In order to bring the North Eastern States to the mainstream, the Government of India, in 2002, set up 555 Community Information Centres (CICs) at the block level in the eight NE States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. The CICs provide digital communication including e-governance services. The CSCs scheme entails public-private partnership and the available services go beyond e-governance to commercial services like bill payment, etc.
|e-Krishi, Kerala State IT Mission’s ((KSITM) online agri-business network, was launched in 2007 with the support of the National Institute for Smart Government (NISG) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It was a project for setting up a network of farming communities in Kerala, which have access to information on market demand, prices, good agricultural practices and quality agricultural inputs.
|The e-Sagu project is an IT-based personalised agro-advisory system initiated by the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Hyderabad in 2004. In e-Sagu, the agricultural scientist delivers expert advice after obtaining the crop status in the form of digital photographs and other information.
|e-Kranti: National e-Governance Plan
|The national-level e-governance programme called National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) was initiated in 2006. There were 31 Mission Mode Projects under the National e-Governance Plan covering a wide range of domains, viz. agriculture, land records, health, education, passports, police, courts, municipalities, commercial taxes and treasuries, etc. Twenty-four Mission Mode Projects have been implemented and started delivering either full or partial range of envisaged services.
|Since 2014, the Digital India programme is centred on three key vision areas: Digital Infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen, governance &services on demand and digital empowerment of citizens.
|Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP)
|Based on the decision in the Conference of the State Revenue Ministers in 1985, the Government of India initiated two Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSSs) i.e., (i) Strengthening of Revenue Administration & Updating of Land Records (SRA&ULR), and (ii) Computerization of Land Records (CLR). The Government of India merged two existing CSSs i.e., SRA&ULR and CLR, and renamed it as National Land Records Modernization Programme (NLRMP) in September, 2008 to revolutionise the land records maintenance system. In April 2016, the NLRMP has been revamped as the Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP). The goal of the integrated programme is to modernise the management of land records, minimise the scope of land/property disputes, enhance transparency in the land records maintenance system, and facilitate moving eventually towards guaranteed conclusive titles to immovable properties in the country. The main objective of the DILRMP is to develop a modern, comprehensive and transparent land records management system in the country with the aim to implement the conclusive land-titling system with a title guarantee.
Conclusion and Suggestions
In the last three decades, the ICT applications in rural India demonstrated an important role in the sustainable development of rural communities. Most of the ICT-led rural development initiatives have been aimed at offering easy access to citizen services and improved processing of government-to-citizen transactions. But, the ICT applications for rural development initiatives should focus on the provision of services in agriculture and its allied activities, education, health care, etc. ICTs can become an effective tool for sustainable rural development if they are an integral part of a broader and more comprehensive national development strategy. One of the challenges for farmers in rural India is their lack of access to market information. In addition to the market information, the use of ICT can solve the information asymmetry effectively and provide the required information to the farmers about weather conditions on a day-to-day basis, new technologies and various government schemes for their welfare, etc.
The use of ICTs in the implementation of welfare schemes can improve the efficacy of the schemes, plug leakages and eradicate corruption. For example, ICT can be used for the effective implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) where the total process of the PMFBY system, including registration for crop insurance, submission of claims for damaged crops, verification of crop damage claim through satellite imagery and settlement of insurance claim, will be automated. Thus, the delays in payment of claims would be minimised and the farmers will be motivated to come forward for registration of crop insurance. The ICTs also can be used for Smart Agriculture by testing soil moisture for automated water supply through drip irrigation. ICTs can help in the marketing needs of rural India by providing unique opportunities for the producers to access markets of rural produces, agriculture and agro-processing products, rural handicrafts, etc. The ICT applications can uplift the lives of the rural population by bridging the cultural gaps between different parts of the country. The effectiveness of ICTs in combating poverty depends on complementarities with other local level poverty reduction and development initiatives, response to the local community needs, and involvement of stakeholders in applications development. The Apex Committee on Digital India programme headed by Cabinet Secretary and the Digital India Advisory Group chaired by Minister of Communications and Information Technology have been constituted. The Digital India programme aims at pulling together many existing schemes. These schemes will be restructured, revamped and re-focused, and will be implemented in a synchronised manner. Many elements are only process improvements with minimal cost implications. The common branding of programmes as Digital India highlights their transformative impact. While implementing this programme, there would be wider consultations and discussions across government, industry, civil society, and citizens on various issues to arrive at innovative solutions for achieving the desired outcomes of Digital India. DeitY has already launched a digital platform named “myGov” (http://mygov.in/) to facilitate collaborative and participative governance. Moreover, several consultations and workshops have been organised to discuss the implementation approach of the vision areas of Digital India. The latest addition in June 2021 is the new ITR filing portal launched by the Income Tax Department, making refund and tracking of IT returns easier.
Dr. Venkatamallu Thadaboina,
SIRD&PR, Mizoram Organises ToT, Capacity Building Programme for Women, and Awareness Campaign
ToT Programme on ‘Accounts & Record-Keeping under XV FC Grants to RLBs with Reference to Audit Online
The training programme was conducted on 4th February, 2022 for officials of the Local Administration Department (LAD) & SIRD&PR, Mizoram. A total of 52 participants (14 offline participants and 38 online participants) took part in the programme. Shri K. Rajeshwar, Associate Professor, NIRDPR conducted online classes for this training programme and explained briefly the process of Audit Online.
2. Capacity Building Programme for Women in Politics – ‘She is a Change-maker’
The training programme was sponsored by National Commission for Women, New Delhi and conducted by SIRD&PR, Mizoram. A total of 48 participants took part in the programme held during 23rd – 25th February, 2022. The training was for women elected representative members from Aizawl Municipal Council.
Shri H. Rosangpuia, Faculty (RD/PA), SPRC, SIRD&PR, Mizoram was the Course Director for this training.
3. Online Awareness Campaign on “Khaw thal hmachhawn tura inbuatsaihna” (Preparation for the dry season)
This training was for members of the Village Councils (VCs) & the Village Disaster Management Committee (VDMCs). It was held on the 22nd February, 2022. The online programme was organised during the evening hours in order to avoid wage loss for the participants and also not to disrupt their official work.
The programme was inaugurated by Pu Lalhmunsanga Hnamte, Director, SIRD&PR, Mizoram. The resource persons were from the Centre for Environment Protection (NGO), Fire & Emergency Services Department Government of Mizoram and Health & Family Welfare Department, Government of Mizoram. The topics covered included an introductory lecture on disaster management, prevention and management of forest fire, prevention of fire in the residential areas, prevention and treatment of diseases during the dry seasons.
Best practices in the prevention and management of forest fire were shared by three Village Councils. Question and answer sessions were also held after every topic. SIRD&PR, Mizoram is planning to conduct more programmes of this kind in future for the benefit of the citizens.
In total SIRD&PR, Mizoram conducted 24 training programmes (both in online and offline modes) during the month of February:
(1) Sixteen Normal Training Programmes (both in online and physical training modes) with a total of 652 participants.
(2) Four Organization of Training Courses (OTC) (physical training modes) with a total of 98 participants
(3) One RGSA Training Course (physical training modes) with a total of 28 participants.
(4) Three Sponsored/Collaboration programmes with other training courses (physical training modes) with a total of 109 participants.