Common Service Centres for Banks’ correspondence

Common Service Centres (CSCs) providing Internet infrastructure to rural areas would beacting as banking correspondents and there are plans to sell insurance too in the future, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Electronics, Information Technology, Law & Justice, said.

“These centres apart from providing digital literacy are transforming into agents of banking and later insurance. The idea is to deliver digital, Wi-Fi enabled services like Aadhaar payments, pension, banking, and insurance. The Government will also push private participation in providing digital services through these platforms,” said Prasad.

“We want it to be a public movement,” Prasad said and added that CSCs have become an important component of India’s growth story and the Prime Minister’s digital India drive.

Under CSC, around 5,000 villages will also have access to Wi-Fi choupals. The platform aims to connect 2.5 lakh gram panchayats through optic fibre network. Two memorandums of understanding (MoU) were signed between CSC and IRCTC for reservation of rail tickets.

The CSC Wi-Fi Choupal is a government initiative that focusses on developing rural Wi-Fi infrastructure and to host suitable applications to provide various ICT services at an affordable cost. Tariff plans under the Wi-Fi Choupal service range from Rs.5 to Rs.950. Piyush Goyal, Minister for Railways and Coal, said CSCs can also be used to promote telemedicine in rural areas. For instance, one could set up a simple diagnostic centre with X-ray and blood sampling facilities and a paramedic can connect with a doctor digitally.

It could act as a primary healthcare centre and complement Jan Aushadhi centres. CSCs can also be the single integrated network to be used as a content sharing platform where higher education content could be shared to reach the gram panchayat level.

Under the CSC project, a 2.9-lakh km optic fibre network has been laid and close to 50,000 km is already digitally connected through the BharatNet. The rest will be connected soon. As of May, around 11,000 gram panchayats have Wi-Fi infrastructure in place.

Prasad said that the project has given employment to 10 lakh people of whom 54,000 are women.