Common Service Centres are envisioned as the front-end delivery points
for Government, private and social sector services to rural citizens of
India. The idea is to develop a platform that can enable Government,
private and social sector organizations to align their social and
commercial goals for the benefit of the rural population in the
remotest corners of the country through a combination of IT-based
as well as non-IT-based services.
Department of Information Technology (DIT), Ministry of Communication
& Information Technology,
Government of India has embarked upon an
ambitious project to establish 1 lakh Common Service Centers in 6
lakh villages of India. CSCs scheme has been started in 2004 with
the vision to develop these centres as a front-end delivery points
for Government, private and social sector services to rural citizens
of India in an integrated and seamless manner.
CMS has implemented and deployed CSC application which is operationalized
in 6 States including Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh,
Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat running more than 5000
Citizen Service Centers across the Country offering various Services
to the Citizens.
Objectives of CSC
CSC as a Change Agent:
The CSCs cannot be seen as mere service delivery points in rural
India. The CSC has to be positioned as a Change Agent - that will
promote rural entrepreneurship, build rural capacities and
livelihoods, enable community participation and effect collective
action for social change - through a bottom-up model that focuses
on the rural citizen.
ICT in isolation cannot undertake such monumental socio-economic
change. However, Rural Entrepreneurship driven by Government,
Private and Social sector agencies, and supported by continuous
capacity building and training has the power to undertake dramatic
changes in rural incomes as well as attitudes. The intensity of
national goals fueled by local entrepreneurial vigor can act as a
powerful catalyst to empower rural India.
CT for Rural Empowerment
ICT as an Enabler:
ICT can be a powerful enabler of developmental goals as its use
can dramatically improve communication and exchange of information
for strengthening and creating new economic and social networks.
ICT is pervasive and can be applied to the full range of human
activity-from personal use to business and government. ICT is
multifunctional and flexible, allowing for tailored solutions
to meet diverse needs of the population. ICT facilitates
disintermediation, as it makes it possible for users to
acquire products and services directly from the original provider,
reducing the need for intermediaries. ICT is fair, equal and
transparent as it does not differentiate on the basis economic
status, religion or castes of its users.
The Development Challenge:
About two-thirds of India’s predominantly rural population having
agriculture as its primary occupation, account for less than one-third
of the National Income leading to disparity in incomes in rural and
urban India. Government agencies, domestic and international
institutions associated with development, and NGOs have been engaged
in addressing this persistent development problem, each in their own
space and time, armed with their respective development ideologies
and tools. Traditional rural development interventions have centered
a) Rural development programmes and schemes launched
either at central, state or local government level;
b) Decentralization of Planning;
c) Better enforcement of land reforms; and,
d) Greater access to credit
The strategy has been evolving with changing times and taking into
its fold new approaches such as participatory local governance,
community development, technology diffusion, and rural entrepreneurship.
While the participatory local governance and community development
approaches have been well absorbed and adopted by the Government
agencies, NGOs and the grassroots alike, the induction of ICT and
‘rural entrepreneurship’ into the rural development domain has been
more or less unorganized (despite the promising growth in ICT
infrastructure and information system in urban areas).
The work on this ambitious NeGP programme is in progress and
currently states are in the process of selection of SCAs. In
fact in some of the states like Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana,
Bihar and Tripura the SCA selection has already been completed.
The CSCs would be set up by private franchisees called as Service
Center Agencies (SCA) – to be appointed by respective States. The
SCAs would further appoint Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE) to
run and manage the CSCs in pre-defined locations. The Scheme would
be implemented in a Public Private Partnership Framework with a
Focus on Rural Entrepreneurship & Market Mechanisms.
The CSCs would focus on content customization and multi- lingual
delivery of end-to-end services for income enhancement in rural
areas. These (CSCs) are being designed as ICT-enabled retail
distribution outlets for delivery of Government, Social as well
as Private Sector services in the areas of Telecom, Agriculture,
Health, Education, Entertainment, FMCG products, Banking and Financial
services, Utility payments, etc. Each CSC is expected to serve a
cluster of 6-7 villages, thereby covering more than six lakh
villages across India.