As the day 23rd January is revered as the birth anniversary of the great freedom fighter, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose throughout out the nation, the State of Gujarat, not only commemorates this leader’s mammoth contribution in the struggle for independence but also celebrates an incredible feat achieved in the village of Haripura four years ago. It is in the very same Haripura where Netaji presided over the session of the Indian National Congress in 1938 and called for complete revolution that Shri Narendra Modi initiated another reform by dedicating the widest village connectivity network of Asia in 2009 through the project, E-Gram, Vishwa Gram.
This reform of bridging the Digital Divide between the rural and urban areas and providing E-services to 13,685 Gram Panchayats has been an outcome of the resolution and determination of the Gujarat Government under the farsighted leadership of Shri Narendra Modi for several years. The story goes back to 2006 with the creation of the infrastructure by setting up Gram Panchayat buildings. Later on, the electrification of all villages was achieved through the much praised Jyotigram Yojana in 2007. Thereafter in 2008, the computerization and E-connectivity of all these Gram Panchayats was attained thus leading to the launch of E-services by the end of the year.
In the same manner as Netaji revived the spirit of his countrymen with the slogan of “Tum Mujhe Khoon Do, Main Tumhe Aazadi Doonga” (Give me your blood and I will give you freedom!), Shri Modi instilled zeal in the citizens of Gujarat and laid the foundation of broadband connectivity in all villages with the motto, “Tum Mujhe Saath Do, Main Tumhe Vikas Doonga” (Give us your support and we will give you development!). Keeping alive Netaji’s dream of an ever-prospering Mother India, this project has truly empowered the rural citizens with its 5 technological components,Computer Printer with VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal), Village Computer Entrepreneur, Capacity Building Training, E- services (G2C and B2C Services) and Technical Support and Training Staff.
The list of all E- services is as following:
Offered G2C Services
- Birth & Death Certificate
- Caste & Income Certificate
- Tax Collection Receipts
- Land Right Records Services (RoR- 7/12 & 8A)
- Application Forms of various development Schemes through Mahitishakti.net
- ITI Application Form
- Data Entry work for Government Departments like Health , Sports ,Gram Sabha ,Vanbandhu etc
- Electricity Bill Collection Work
- E Ration Card Coupon – 207 eGram Centers as Pilot
B2C services rolled out by VCE through entrepreneurship model are as follows:
- e-Ticketing of Railways, Airlines
- Utility Bill payments (Telephone, Mobile, DTH etc)
- DTP work
- All eGram are having their own eGram Mail IDs including Group Mail Ids and Digital News Letter is alsopublished on website and soon with the help of Gujarat Portal all department forms will be availablefrom eGram.
- At present State, District Officials are conducting regular video conference with eGram centers everyday. Per month 2 such video conference and minimum by two districts per day basis.
- Through PAWAN Channel important programs and informative programs are transmitted for information Department, WASMO, Health Department , Education Department ,Distance Learning session of eServices (Like RoR, RTO, eration card etc) and computers course like Adobe online training is relayed .
Doing away with the hassles of standing in long queues, the rural citizens now have access to Government-to-Citizen (G2C) services like Basic Certificates of Birth and Death, Electricity Bill collection as well as Business-to-Citizen (B2C) services such as Mobile Recharge, Air Ticket and Railway Ticket bookings. This project has become the very lifeline of the inclusive development of every village as several other innovations have branched out of this scheme.
The E-Gram Center has become the mainstay of the distinguished Targeted Public Distribution System. This model which has been commended by the Supreme Court of India and United Nations empowers the citizens to avail food grains at a fair price with minimum leakages. It is only because of the E-Gram Center that a villager of Gujarat can register his complaintand directly connect to the Chief Minister, Shri Modi with the online redressal programme, SWAGAT.
With the provision of Panchayat Area Wide Area Network (PAWAN), the villages are connected to all districts and the State Capital. This has robustly facilitated various training and learning programs throughout the last few years. Some of them are for Training Program on services like RTO Licensee, BSNLeCoupan System and IT Training Program on MS Office, Adobe, Anti Virus etc .All of BISAG’s (Bhaskaracharya Institute Space Applications and Geo-informatics) distant education programmes are also telecasted.
This project has received ‘E-gram Vishwa Gram Best E-governed project’ award at CSI- Nihilent E-Governance Award for 2007-08 and the ‘e-Gram’ award under ‘Digital Inclusion’ Category at Skotch Challenger Award 2008. The greatest testimony, however, comes from the Sarpanch of village Punsari, Shri Himanshu Patel who in an interview with The GUJARAT Magazine, enthusiastically talked of how technology has touched upon the lives of the rural poor by providing them access to welfare schemes.
The vastness of infrastructure created by this initiative is unmatchable in India. While the Central Government’s vision lags behind even in terms of broadband connectivity to all cities, broadband to villages still remains a distant dream. On the contrary, here in Gujarat every village is linked with speedy internet! This can be mainly attributed to the strong political will of Shri Modi and efficiency of the Government which ultimately brought 24 hours uninterrupted electricity to villages. The Central Government has only planned for digital inclusion but Shri Modi has made it a reality!
It is because of the immense dedication and perseverance of Shri Modi that this project has borne the incredible fruits of digital inclusiveness, transparency and accountability for the rural communities. The day won’t be far when his dream of “creating a rural-urban connect where the soul is of the rural bent but with an urban touch” would materialize in the true sense!