Why Rural Indians Don’t Use Government Electronic Services

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Only a tiny fraction of rural Indians have access to computers. The government has set up Common Service Centers (CSCs) to give them access to online services such as filing income tax returns, applying for passports and updating Aadhaar details. But a study reveals that the inhabitants of the villages do not use these centers much. The reasons include a low digital literacy, a lack of awareness of the services, as well as the time and money it costs to get to these centers.

The authors of the study, led by Sujeet Kumar Sharma of the Indian Institute of Management, Tiruchirappalli, based their findings on interviews with 21 academics and industry experts as well as eight CSC owners.

Created in 2006 as part of the national e-governance plan, each rural CSC serves two to three villages. When a person goes to a CSC, they can lose a whole day for the round trip, so that they lose income if they are employed by the day. They also lose money for their travel and meals, which discourages them from using CHCs more. The authors recommend creating new centers through partnerships with private companies, so that there is at least one center in each village.

People also get a little idea of ​​the different electronic services offered in CHCs and how they can make their lives easier. Awareness can be created by posting details of services on notice boards near ration shops, where villagers come to collect subsidized food.

Another problem is that the inhabitants of the villages do not have the digital knowledge and skills to use computers on their own. Sometimes the operators who manage the CHCs lack training to help the villagers who come. The authors recommend that training programs be organized for operators to help them serve citizens in a more informed manner.

Read also: “Challenges faced by Common Service Centers (CSCs) in providing eGovernment services in rural India”

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