The National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) is part of the National Common Minimum Programme for bringing information and government services to the doorstep of the citizens. Access to information, backed with relevant infrastructure and services, can not only allow rural villagers to improve their quality of life
but also support and supplement their existing incomes in a sustainable way.
NeGP is formulated on the three-pillar model for delivery of these services, namely
(a) State Wide Area Network (SWAN/NICNET) that will provide connectivity @2mbps up to the block level. It is also envisaged that SWANs will have Base Stations to enable wireless connectivity beyond block level.
(b) National Data Bank/State Data Centres (SDC)
(c) Common Services Centres (CSC)
Access to information and services such as e-Government (birth and death certificates, payment of utility bills) micro-credit, education (e-learning), health (tele-medicine), financial services, entertainment etc. through such infrastructure, can provide a foundation for the economic prosperity of rural
The CSC Scheme:
The Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India proposes to facilitate the establishment of a network of more than 100,000 internet enabled Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access points termed as Common Service Centres (CSC). The CSCs are meant to provide high quality and cost effective video, voice and data content, in the areas of E-Government, Education, Health, Tele-medicine, Entertainment as well as possible government and private services. The CSCs are proposed to be rolled out by end of year
The goal of the CSC Project is to empower the rural community and catalyse social change through modern technologies. With a large and heterogeneous geographical area, the private and civil society sector are expected to play an active role in development and implementation of the CSC Project in
supplementing the Governments efforts to realise its vision for the project.
UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF RURAL INDIA:
(a) Economical access to information and services to rural citizens: Successful implementation of CSC Scheme would offer economical and instantaneous access to key information and services to rural villagers across India. Information in the
form of agricultural inputs, weather, commodity prices, health, as well as Services in the form of e-Government, tele-medicine, bill payments & bookings, data entry, digital pictures, entertainment, education & e-learning, micro-finance, etc. ( an illustrative list only ) can not only save precious monetary resources but also provide an ideal platform for betterment of quality of life in rural India.
(b) 100,000 small businesses for rural entrepreneurs: The CSC Scheme, essentially, will set up 100,000 small businesses in rural India that would be run by trained and empowered rural youth as social entrepreneurs
(c) Improved governance at cheaper costs: The CSC Scheme would allow State and Central government agencies to directly link up with citizens without a long chain of intermediaries. Such a system would not only save huge costs but also
reduce systemic red tape as well as service delays, thereby leading to better quality of governance
(d) New channels of distribution: The CSC Scheme would open up new channels of distribution in rural India for products and services. Since CSCs would lead to cost savings and provide income enhancement opportunities for rural villagers, a
substantial portion of rural income would be available for consumption of such products and services, thereby giving boost to retail marketing and rural economies
THE APPROACH TO ICT-ENABLED COMMON SERVICES CENTERS (CSC)
The CSCs would be a new delivery channel for offering e-Government and other services to a target market of 700 million rural citizens. The CSC envisages a collaborative model for delivery of content, services, information and knowledge, that can allow like-minded public and private enterprises - through a collaborative framework - to integrate their goals of profit as well as social objectives, into a sustainable business model for achieving rapid socio-economic change in rural India. It is the community participation and collective action,
not ICT alone, which will lead to a behaviour change for a sustainable socio-economic change and long-term rural prosperity.
THE PROPOSED FRAMEWORKS
Proposed Infrastructure Framework: There are two major components of the CSC infrastructure - Physical Infrastructure and Digital Infrastructure:
Physical Infrastructure would include the site and space for the CSC as well as other infrastructure like furniture, storage, security, UPS, Genset, wireless equipment, telemedicine equipment, etc.
Digital Infrastructure would comprise of all onsite technology equipment, such as PCs, Printers, Scanners, Projectors, Digital Camera, Software, Television, etc.
Proposed Services Framework:
End-to-end Services: The key driver for the selection of content and services would be their end-to-end applicability. This means that a specific content/ service should be in a marketable format for it to be selected as a part of the
service network in the CSCs.
Broadly, the service selection would be on their ability to impact the consumer through informatisation, saving cost, helping Income Generation and enabling socio-economic development. The bouquet of services will be determined
in consultation with the state government/SLA/SCAs.
ROLES OF RESPONSIBILITIES OF PRIMARY STAKEHOLDERS
The Scheme would be rolled out to establish CSCs across the country with an equitable geographical spread through a three-tier structure for the States.
(i) At the first (CSC) level would be the local Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE- loosely analogous to a franchisee).
(ii) At the second/middle level would be an entity termed as the Service Centre Agency (SCA loosely analogous to a franchiser).
(iii) At the third level would be the agency designated by the State to facilitate implementation of the Scheme within the State. This agency will be termed as the State Level Agency (SLA)
Since the implementation of a project of this size and scope would pose significant challenges of project management at the national level as also in exploiting opportunities to achieve significant economies of scale, a National Level Service Agency (NLSA) will be appointed. This Agency would assist the DIT
& the States in carrying all work related to pre-implementation & implementation phase of the Scheme. The NLSA would work with the DIT to develop a Public Private Partnership framework for the Scheme; coalesce diverse stakeholders to work through common institutional and contractual frameworks; harness national level resources; loop best practices; enable transparent and inclusive process of participation across stakeholders; undertake to underwrite resources for the
Scheme; standardise design; and content and processes into a replicable collaborative framework and so on.
The structure of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement and the roles of the various stakeholders are as follows:
Roles and Responsibilities of the State Level Agency: The State Level Agency (SLA) will facilitate the implementation of the CSC
scheme through field formations (SCAs) and/or the district dministration in the entire State, and provide necessary legal and policy measures to enable the SCA/CSCs to come into being, attain sustainability and deliver government
services as contemplated in the CSC framework.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Service Centre Agency (SCA):
SCAs will set-up service delivery channels and provide secure and safe Government-to-Citizen (G2C) and Business-to-Citizen (B2C) services through the network of CSCs allocated to it. The SCA can be a private sector agency, a PSU, an SME, a training institute, an NGO or a co-operative. The Key role of the SCA vis-à-vis the CSC Scheme hence would be:
Setting up of CSCs in a phased implementation program with the requisite hardware and software.
Provide connectivity to the CSCs by deploying appropriate communication technologies for interactive and online access to voice and data based services. Connectivity up to the block level is expected to be facilitated by the state government through SWAN/NICNET/ wireless etc. The SCA is expected to provide for the receiving equipment at CSC level.
Maintain and manage the CSCs through locally selected and trained kiosk operators after properly identifying entrepreneurs.
Promote the use of CSCs in the rural areas through local promotion campaigns
Maintain the security and integrity of the data, business processes and transactions at all times
Protect all the assets (intellectual and physical) of the project.
Interface with the State Government, State Level Agency and collaboratively work on improvement of services offered and introduction of new services from time to time including aspects such as service charges, collection and remittance, quality of service parameters, protocols, etc.
Identify, collaborate and contract with B2C service providers to create and manage specific services.
Assume complete responsibility for the managerial, technical, financial, HR, logistics and other resources and ensure its viability, visibility and high quality of performance of CSCs.
Provide regular reports and feedback to state government/SLA
The key challenges for the SCA would be to manage secure, safe and trusted service delivery channel on one hand and integrate pieces of the service delivery chain.
Roles and Responsibilities of the Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE):
The VLE is the key to the success of the CSC operations. While content and services are important, it is the VLEs entrepreneurial ability that is critical to ensure CSC sustainability. A good VLE would be one who not only has financial muscle, but a person who has entrepreneurial traits, strong social commitment and commands respect within the community.