Digitization for an inclusive society
(GS-II: Issues related to the development of the social sector, healthcare, education, human resources etc)
Seven years since the launch of Digital India (2015), Digital India Week is being celebrated for emphasizing the ‘digital-first’ economy.
The ‘ ‘Digital India” programme was launched to transform the country into a “digitally empowered society and knowledge economy”.
Measures taken to link individuals to the country’s digital ecosystem:
Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM) initiative: It provides digital identities to more than a billion Indian citizens.
Unified Payments Interface (UPI): provides access to the country’s banking system for millions of Indians who were earlier excluded from the formal economy.
WhatsApp: It sees itself as India’s digital ally:
Working with the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) during the pandemic
Women farmers in Kashmir used WhatsApp to create an alternate ‘supply-chain’.
Connect with customers in Gujarat to sell thousands of kilograms of apples and cherries.
Digitization of businesses: Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of a resilient national economy. About one-third to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Through WhatsApp for Business App, millions of small businesses grow their client base and revenue streams.
Jeevan Handicrafts based in Nagaur, Rajasthan, is an example of the app being used to empower local women artisans.
Payments and financial inclusion: The adoption of digital payments on UPI has fast-forwarded the pace of financial literacy across the board, from urban enthusiasm to rural need.
WhatsApp’s pilot programme aims to empower 500 villages across Karnataka and Maharashtra with access to digital payments through ‘payments on WhatsApp’ and will include on-ground facilitators educating citizens on aspects such as signing up for UPI, setting up a UPI account and the best practices of safety while using digital payments.
Citizen services for efficient e-governance:
MyGov Corona Helpdesk chatbot on WhatsApp in partnership with the government, the chatbot has become a one-stop solution for accessing authentic covid-related information and vaccination-related resources.
MyGov Helpdesk now includes ‘Digilocker’ services, offering quick access to official documents.
Constitution and power of states to hold such enumeration of the population
(GS-II: Important aspects of governance, issues related to the development of the social sector etc)
Several parties have been pushing for a nationwide ‘caste census’ to enumerate the Socially Economically Backward Classes and OBCs.
The caste-based parties argue that although the Mandal Commission estimated the OBC population at 52%, in the absence of reliable data, the backward classes are losing out on welfare schemes and programmes meant for them.
The decennial census is conducted by the Census Commissioner of India under the Census of India Act, 1948.
The state does not have the power to conduct a census
The states can collect data or headcount of the population for the implementation of welfare schemes or other purposes.
This may be done either under existing state legislation and rules or new legislation may be enacted under item 45 of List III (Concurrent List) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution for socio-economic development of the state.”
The central government accepted recommendations to use the Socio-Economic Caste Census in 2017:
World Bank releases Global Findex database 2021
(GS-III: Financial Inclusion)
World Bank’s Global Findex database surveyed how people in 123 economies use formal and informal financial services e.g., cards, ATMs, mobile phones, and the internet.
Global specific findings:
Account ownership: Globally, in 2021, 76 per cent of adults had an account at a bank or regulated institution such as a credit union, microfinance institution, or a mobile money service provider
Women empowerment: Mobile money has become an important enabler of financial inclusion—especially for women e.g., in Sub-Saharan Africa
High financial stress: Despite promising growth in account ownership and use, about half of adults in developing economies are worried about at least one area of financial stress e.g., an emergency fund for health.
Low financial literacy: About two-thirds of unbanked adults said that if they opened an account (excluding mobile money) at a financial institution, they could not use it without help.
Low access to formal banking in India and there is a lack of trust.
Aadhar contributed to account ownership in about 80% of adults (from 35% in 2011)
Drop-in fraud and leakage: Transitioning from cash to biometric smart cards has reduced leakage by 47% in pension payments.
Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.
Financial inclusion has been identified as an enabler for 7 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The World Bank Group considers financial inclusion a key enabler to reduce extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity.
Odisha tops State ranking for implementation of the National Food Security Act
(GS-II: Issues related to poverty and hunger, schemes for the vulnerable sections of society etc)
Union Food and Consumer Affairs Minister released the ‘State Ranking Index for NFSA’ 2022 during a conference of State Food Ministers on ‘Food and Nutrition Security of India’.
Odisha is in the first position, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
Among the special category States (the Northeastern States, Himalayan States, and the Island States), Tripura has obtained the first rank. Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim are in the second and third positions.
Most states and UTs fared well: The findings from the exercise revealed that most States and Union Territories have fared well in digitisation, Aadhaar seeding, and ePoS installation, which reiterates the strength and scale of the reforms.
Improvement needed in certain areas: States and Union Territories have to improve their performance in a few areas:
Exercises, such as conducting and documenting social audits thoroughly.
Operationalising functions of State food commissions across States and Union Territories.
Significance of the Index:
It measures the effectiveness of NFSA: The current version of the Index measures the effectiveness of NFSA implementation majorly through operations and initiatives under TPDS (Targeted Public Distribution System).
Will lead to the healthy competition: Ranking will lead to healthy competition among States under the NFSA, also known as the food law, under which the Centre provides highly subsidized foodgrains to nearly 80 crore people.
The government provides 5 kg of food grains per person per month at ₹1-3 per kg.
It does not cover programs and schemes implemented by other ministries and departments under the NFSA.
The Index denotes only the efficiency of TPDS operations, it does not reflect the level of hunger, if any or malnutrition, or both, in a particular state or union territory, the report clarified.
The Index focuses on NFSA and TPDS reforms, which can be standardized across the States and Union Territories.