The Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA), one of the flagship schemes of the NDA government, is way behind its target. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had fixed a target of making 3 crore of the rural population digitally literate by March 31 this year, but the achievement has been only 57 lakh —19 per cent.
In response to an RTI application filed by The Indian Express, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said that a total of 57,07,935 rural people have been covered during 2017-18.
When PMGDISHA was launched, the aim was to train 25 lakh candidates in FY 2016-17 (scheme was approved on February 8, 2017, so this target was for 50 days); 2.75 crore in 2017-18; and 3 crore in 2018-19. (Source for the target: http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=158292).
As of June 4, 2018, according to the PMGDISHA website, training of 1.23 crore students was completed, but 63.17 lakh were categorised as “beneficiary of the digital literacy training”. This means that so far 63.17 lakh students have got certificates of training.
The scheme has performed better on the inclusion front, as a large number of SC, ST and OBC category people have been covered, according to the ministry’s response. The response shows that out of more than 57 lakh rural population that has been covered till March 31 this year, 11.03 lakh were from SC, 4.45 lakh from ST and 24.55 lakh were from OBC category. So the total coverage includes 19.3 per cent SC, 7.8 per cent ST and 43 per cent OBC category population. Nearly 30 per cent are from the general category. The ministry has said it does “not capture the minorities status”.
The PMGDISHA documents say that “digitally literate persons would be able to operate computers/digital access devices (like tablets, smart phones, etc), send and receive emails, browse internet, access Government Services, search for information, undertaking cashless transactions, etc. and hence use IT to actively participate in the process of nation building”.
While the target for 2016-17 was 25 lakh beneficiaries, the ministry says nobody was made digitally literate during that period. For 2017-18, the target was 2.75 crore rural population but the response shows that total beneficiaries during that period was only 57,07,935.
A spokesperson of the ministry said, “The government approved PMGDISHA on February 8, 2017, to usher in digital literacy in rural India by covering 6 crore rural households by March 31, 2019, at a total outlay of Rs 2,351.58 crore. The preparatory works were carried out throughout the country. As on March 31, 2018, a total of 1.12 crore beneficiaries were enrolled; 1.1 crore were trained, out of which 55.57 lakh were duly certified by duly authorised third party assessment agencies. An additional amount of Rs 50 crore was released to the implementing agency in February 2018 (re-appropriated from internal savings of the ministry). The average cost per person comes to Rs 391.90 (training fee Rs 300, certification fee Rs 70, operation management cost Rs 21.90). In the current financial year, an amount of Rs 400 crore has been allocated for the scheme, thereby taking the cumulative fund allocation to Rs 500 crore, which would be just sufficient to take care of the already trained candidates. This progress will be expedited.”