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Government of India

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January 24, 2017

Skill Development Ministry marches towards a comprehensive quality assurance mechanism in VET

*Rohit Nandan  i201712403.png

Indian Vocational Education and Training (VET) and general education is in the process of reform and has under gone a number of changes which has seen the system open up to greater participation from industry through the introduction of a National Skills AAEAAQAAAAAAAAfpAAAAJGJmODdkYTY2LWYzOGItNDg4MC04ZGE0LWJjOWQ4NDljZmY2ZQ.jpg Qualifications Framework (NSQF). The NSQF was notified on 27th December 2013, and was anchored in the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA). Like the EU, Australia, South Africa, Malaysia, the UAE and others, the introduction of a qualifications framework in India called for coordinated linkages across educational training sectors, and industry to ensure that all qualifications in the country are valued and consistent.

NSQF ensured a formal structure to qualifications/courses being offered and implemented in the most scattered manner, by organising them into levels of competencies based on knowledge, skill and attitude. A paradigm shift from input based approach of educational training to an outcome oriented training and assessment is envisaged through the NSQF.banner-2.jpg This is being done by NSDA by setting up minimum norms for industry validation, curricula, and content for qualification alignment and approval. NSDA is providing assistance to State Skill development Missions and GOI Ministries to align to the new approach, and so far around 1500 qualifications by various certifying bodies have been approved as per the outcome based approach. An outcome based approach will better inform the candidates and the employers about what a learner can do after taking up the course/qualification, and builds confidence in the quality assurance of qualifications leading to better acceptability by Industry, and mobility and progression within and between education and training systems.

National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 has emphasized on the need to undertake skilling in India at scale with speed, standard (quality) andCapture.JPG sustainability. Training people under the new NSQF requires a coordinated effort to ensure parity of awards across different educational sectors, and to guarantee consistency in graduate outcomes nationally and increased remittances internationally. If the title and level of a qualification in one country does not meet the outcomes of a qualification of a similar title at a similar level in other countries then trust in that nation’s qualifications will begin to erode. This is where a nationally coordinated quality framework helps to protect the integrity of qualifications. Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship is keen to ensure that qualifications and skills gained are valued in the labour market by employers and students. This is done by aligning national qualifications and training/education needs with comprehensive labour market analyses, and applying outcomes-based quality assurance. This also facilitates smooth pathway progression to higher level qualifications. To achieve this, we require a quality framework to underpin the implementation of the qualifications framework, the NSQF. This will allow India to benchmark qualifications, training, and performance outcomes across Ministries, States and other countries. One common concurrence in all models for international recognition is the emphasis on a unified and internationally referenced quality assurance system for education and skills development.

The policy clearly states ‘One Nation One Standard’ to ensure that a uniform set of nationally accepted standards can be aligned globally and Indian youth can fetch jobs, and career progression opportunities at local, national and international levels.

The following parameters have been identified for improving quality: •

  • Quality assurance framework embedded in NSQF •
  • Market relevant training programmes •
  • Recognition of prior learning •
  • Curriculum alignment •
  • National Certification Framework •
  • Employability skills
  • Placements

The Policy has envisioned the role of National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) focussing on Quality Assurance and Policy Research in the skill eco-system. It mandated NSDA to establish and operationalise a Quality Assurance framework embedded in NSQF to improve consistency of outcomes in the skills landscape, which includes laying down a framework for training, assessment and certification processes and agencies in the country. The Quality Assurance Framework will act as a regulatory framework which will define the norms, quality standards and processes to be followed by various stakeholders, in the vocational education and training space in the country.

The proposed National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF), places particular emphasis on the evaluation and improvement of the outputs and outcomes of VET and general education in terms of increasing employability, improving the match between demand and supply, and promoting better access to lifelong learning. Quality in the context of NQAF means; processes, procedures and outcomes for ensuring that qualifications, assessment and programme delivery produce graduates who productively meet industry’s current and future skill needs. The National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) is designed to be used across states, sectors and ministries and provides the structure within which all bodies operate.

The vision of the National Quality Assurance Framework is to:

  1. Improve the consistency and industry relevance of NSQF graduates through closer partnerships with industry and other social partners;
  2. Accommodates diversity and protects learners from inferior and non-relevant skills development for people from all socio-economic backgrounds and genders;
  3. Provide a structure for continuous improvement of the VET and general education systems in India;
  4. Improve the quality of all education and training in India, even those delivered by institutions that have limited resources, by an inclusive quality framework, which permits such institutions to achieve the quality standards laid down in the NQAF. The objective is not to exclude large number of participants in the VET and general education process by an exclusive framework that set benchmarks that excludes much of education and training provision existing in the country;
  5. Provide greater transparency and consistency across the entire VET and general education system as it provides a common framework for the system as a whole to improve, monitor and evaluate the management, provision and outcomes of education and training.

The NQAF is to be applied at all levels of the VET and general education system, and can be used to assess the effectiveness of VET and general education as a whole. A nationally consistent approach to quality will assist in raising the status of VET and general education as employers will realise that graduates are exiting training/education programmes with consistent relevant skills and knowledge. Ministries, States, Government and industry led bodies(Sector skill councils) all have a role in supporting continuous improvement across the skills development system in India. Most existing quality arrangements in India focus on up front audits rather than committing to the principle of continuously improving the quality of their training/education outcomes by building on the existing quality requirements. There are major variations in the standard of facilities, access to current equipment and the skills of teachers in the various stakeholders involved in VET and general education in India across geographies. Large urban based Training/Education Institutions are more likely to have access to skilled staff and good training equipment than in rural and remote areas. This disparity means that the quality framework must offer avenues for all training/education organisations to participate at different levels with the goal of progressing to common higher levels of quality through incremental improvement. The NQAF involves an incremental approach for training/education providers which will not adversely affect training and education efforts required to meet nationally set training targets.

The NQAF encompasses a sub-set of 8 Quality Manuals of processes, principles and indicators, which will provide a set of standards to be followed by stakeholders, so that the implementation process across Ministries, sectors, States and Departments is carried out with the same efficacy. Each Manual describes the processes to be undertaken. The Manuals will be referred by various stakeholders, implementers, regulators and policy makers to ensure that the NSQF is implemented in its full spirit and is able to build and maintain the confidence of all the stakeholders.

The Manuals in the NQAF series cover:

The first manual i.e. the Overview Manual provides an introductory overview of the entire regulatory framework and the quality standards covered for each stakeholder in the 7 subset manuals of the framework.

The second manual i.e. Registration of NSQF Qualification lays down the important aspects of a qualification, the process of aligning the same with the NSQF, and registration on National Qualification Register. The manual defines the role of competent bodies in alignment of qualifications, and describes the parameters and tools for alignment and review of qualification under NSQF.

The third manual is on Accreditation of Training/Education Institutions which lays down the norms and standards against which a training/education institute should be assessed in order to impart quality training services. It proposes a tiered approach with four tiers of accreditation depending upon the quality of services and operations. This provides the training provider with an inclusive accreditation framework and an opportunity of continual improvement in the VET space.

The fourth manual, Accreditation of Assessment Bodies and Quality Assurance in Assessments lays down norms and standards against which Assessment bodies will be accredited to conduct assessments in VET space. In line with the Accreditation framework for Training Institutions, a tiered approach is proposed for the assessment bodies also, with three tiers of accreditation. The manual provides best practices at each stage of assessment and act as a guide to assessors for delivering high quality assessment.

The fifth and the sixth manual i.e. the NQAF Auditor’s Manual and the Risk Assessment Framework Manual provide processes, and indicators for evaluation of compliance to NQAF Standards by service providers. While the Auditor’s Manual provides information on Audit processes under NQAF, the Risk Assessment Framework highlights the compliance status of service providers, measured against risk indicators and how the same will be used for monitoring and continuous improvement of the TVET system.

The seventh manual i.e. Quality Assurance of Industry Bodies Manual provides Quality Assurance procedures for industry consultations, qualification evidence and data collection requirements, information on communication about the NSQF and alignment to NSQF levels.

The eights manual i.e. Quality Assurance for National and State Level Bodies Manual specifically covers NSQF implementation and provides information on how the NQAF objectives can be monitored and quality improvements evaluated by appropriate national and state level bodies. It also lays down data collection requirements and interim arrangements for implementation of NQAF.

NQAF embedded in NSQF has been conceived as an overarching framework for Quality Assurance, covering all skilling initiatives of States schemes, GOI ministries, private and corporate sector, to be implemented in a phased-wise manner through proper institutional structures.

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*Author is Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India.

Beekeeping: Vital Input for Sustainable Agriculture

*Dr. B.L. Sarswat  i201712302.jpg

Introduction

Beekeeping is an agro-based activity which is being undertaken by farmers/landlessbeginningbees.jpg labours in rural area as an integrated farming practice. Beekeeping supplements income & employment generation and nutritional intake of rural population. Though the honeybees are best known for the honey they produce, their economic role in nature is to pollinate hundreds and thousands of flowering plants and assure setting of seed or fruit. Honeybees have been offering services to the society through ensured pollination in cross-pollinated crops as well as by providing honey and a variety of beehive products. Honey Bees have vital role in sustaining plants bio-diversity resulting in environmental stability. Beekeeping is one of the thrust areas and flagship programmes of Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare.

Importance of Beekeeping in Agriculture and Rural Development:

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Value of additional yield from pollination services by honeybees alone is about 15-20 times more than the value of all hive products put together (Dr. Kaloo, 2004). Honey bee pollination also improve the quality of produce. The potential benefits, due to bee pollination, in the form of increase in yields of various crops varies from 5% to 33150%. The crops-wise details of increase in yield due to bee pollination are given as under:

Oilseeds % increase in yields Legume/ pulses % increase yields
Mustard 128.1 to 159.8 Alfalfa 23.4 to 19,733.3
Rai 18.4 Berseem and other Clovers 23.4 to 33,150
Rapeseed 12.8 to 139.3 Vetches 39 to 20,000
Toria 66 to 220 Broad Beans 6.8 to 90.1
Sarson 222 Dwarf beans 2.8 to 20.7
Safflower 4.2 to 114.3 Kidney beans 500 to 600
Linseed 1.7 to 40 Runner beans 20.6 to 1,100
Niger 260.7 Arahar 21 to 30
Sunflower 20 to 3,400 Other pulses (Arahar, etc.) 27-30 (RAU)
Orchard crops % increase in yields Vegetables for seed/ fruits % increase yields
Apple varieties 180 to 6,950 Radish 22 to 100
Pears 240 to 6,014 Cabbage 100 to 300
Plums 6.7 to 2,739 Turnip 100 to 125
Cherry 56.1 to 1,000 Carrot 9.1 to 135.4
Straw-berry 17.4 to 91.9 Onion 353.5 to 9,878
Raspberry 291.3 to 462.5 Brinjal 35-67
Persimmon 20.8 Cucumbers 21.1 to 411
Litchi 4,538 to 10,246 Miscellaneous crops
Citrus varieties 7 to 233.3 American cotton 5 to 20
Grapes 756.4 to 6,700 Egyptian cotton 16 to 24
Squashes 771.4 to 800 Buckwheat 62.5
Guava 70-140 Coffee 16.7 to 39. 8
Papaya 22.4-88.9
Mosambi 36-750  
Orange 471-900

In view of the above, in addition to 4 inputs: land, labour, capital & management including seed, fertilizer, pesticides, water, machinery, etc., honey bees/beekeeping have proved to be as 5th input for agriculture which regulates the efficacy of other four inputs.

Initiatives/Programmes of Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare & others

Beekeeping has been included as an activity for promoting cross pollination of Horticultural Crops under National Horticulture Mission since May, 2005, which has been merged in Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH).

MIDH has been in implementation in all parts of the country. Under MIDH, among others, assistance for promoting Scientific Beekeeping under the component of ‘Pollination Support through Beekeeping’ is available and being implemented by the State Departments of Horticulture/Agriculture in the field. Khadi and Village Industries Commission, Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, State Khadi Board etc. are also implementing beekeeping schemes.

Shri Narender Modi, Hon’ble PM (then CM, Gujarat) understanding process of honey extraction.i201712304.jpg

National Bee Board (NBB) and its Role:

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The main objective of NBB is overall development of beekeeping by promoting scientific beekeeping in the country to increase the productivity of crops through pollination support and production of honey and other beehive products to increase the income of farmers/beekeepers. NBB is one of the National Level Agencies (NLAs) under MIDH.

Presently, the main thrust of NBB is setting up of Integrated Beekeeping Development Centres (IBDCs)/Centres of Excellence (CoEs) on beekeeping, at least one in each State. In these centres (IBDCs), requisite infrastructural facilities for implementing end to end approach for development of scientific beekeeping in the country may be made available at one place. Centres will help the beekeepers/farmers of the area in adopting scientific beekeeping and encourage/promote scientific beekeeping in integrated manner in the Country. 3 IBDCs have been commissioned/approved during 2015-16 and 7 are in process.

Dr. S. K. Malhotra, Horticulture & Agriculture Commissioner and MS, NBB and Dr. B. L. Sarswat, Executive Director,NBB receiving award in Krishi Unnati Mela at IARI, Pusa.

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Beekeeping Industry in India:

Presently, about 30 lakhs bee colonies in India are producing 94500 metric tonnes of Honey (2016-17 estimated) including honey from wild honey bees & providing employment to about 3.00 lakh persons. India is one of the honey exporting countries. The major markets for Indian honey are Germany, USA, UK, Japan, France, Italy, Spain etc.

World scenario of beekeeping:

Honey is the precious natural health product which is produced throughout the world. A total quantity of 14-15 lakh metric ton is produced world over. There are 15 countries in the world which produce 90% of the total production. Major honey producing countries are China, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Ukraine, Turkey, Russia & India.

Beekeeping as an Enterprise, source of Livelihood and benefits

Beekeeping industry is source of livelihood for rural poors/tribals/forest based population. Benefits of beekeeping are summarized as under:-

Ø  Unemployed youth can start this business with minimal funds (Rs. 1.00 to 2.00 lakhs);

Ø  Generates 3.75 lakhs mandays to maintain 10,000 Bee colonies in Bee hives;

Ø  Proper utilization of natural resources – nector & pollen otherwise go waste;

Ø  Different sectors and trades benefit from a strong beekeeping industry;

Ø  Beekeeping encourages ecological awareness;

Ø  Beekeeping helps in increasing National income;

Ø  Income from 100 Bee colonies is around Rs. 2.50-3.00 lakhs per annum;

Ø May help in doubling farmers income by supplementing/complimenting agriculture/              horticulture;

Ø Export of honey/beehive products attracts foreign exchange;

Ø It helps in rural development and promotes small village industry;

Ø Beekeeping is benign: Beekeeping generates income without destroying habitat;

Ø Encouraging beekeeping encourages biodiversity.

Hence, beekeeping may be adopted as an enterprise by anyone after getting training on the subject.

Potential and Opportunities

India has vast potential for Beekeeping. The diversity in flora and fauna provides more opportunities for the development of beekeeping industry. The National Commission on Agriculture had visualized the need for deploying about 150 million Bee colonies for pollinating 12 major agricultural crops in the country.  Presently, 200 million Bee colonies are required for enhancing their yield which will provide employment to 215 lakh persons and produce 10 million tonnes of honey and increase in crop production.

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Main issues to be addressed are strengthening of National Bee Board, setting up of State Bee Boards/Missions/IBDCs; production of quality germplasm & nucleus stock of honey bees; indiscriminate use of pesticides in crops; quality standards for honey & other beehive products by BIS/ FSSAI, etc.; disease diagnostic labs &  bee products quality analysis labs ;  exemptions from various taxes (GST) for Beekeeping/beekeepers; treating beekeepers as farmers in all respects for compensation, etc. in the event of damage of bee colonies and accidental insurance coverage on subsidized rates, insurance of bee colonies on subsidized rates, etc.

*Author is an Executive Director, National Bee Board, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, M/o Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

National Voters’ Day: Reinforcing commitment to democracy

*PRIYADARSHI DUTTA  i201712201.jpg

The 7th National Voters’ Day will be observed on Wednesday, January 25. It was institutedElection_Commission_of_India_Logo.png in 2011 in remembrance of the foundation day of the Election Commission of India. It was on January 25, 1950 on the eve of the first Republic Day that the Election Commission had come into existence. But it was future course of action rather than history that determined the decision on National Voters’ Day. Its declared objective was to increase the enrollment of eligible voters, especially those who had recently turned 18.

The Constitution (Sixty First Amendment) Act, 1988 had lowered the threshold voting age from 21 years to 18 years thus fulfilling a longstanding public demand. As a consequence, 35.7 million (or three and half crore) youths between the ages of 18 and 21 years could exercise their voting right in the 10th general elections held in November, 1989.

But the mission was far from complete. The ensuing two decades did not produce exactly encouraging results. There was lukewarm response from the young eligible voters to get enrolled. In certain cases it could be as low as 20 to 25 percent only. Since enrollment and voting is voluntary, not compulsory, the Election Commission could only persuade. But the priority of the Commission had been to conduct free and fair elections. This in itself is a protracted and challenging task.

While voters tend to view the elections as an event, it is an elongated procedure for the Commission. From publishing of the notification to the declaration of the results, elections are a long drawn process. Conducting elections in a country as enormous and populous as India is a daunting task. Upon that the Commission had to battle the abuses of money and muscle power.

As regarding the electorate, generating a clean voters list (as per Sections 11 and 62 of the Representation of People Act, 1951) free from errors of duplication and disqualification remained the Commission’s priority. Voter mobilization was left to the election campaign by the various political parties. Every political party naturally did its best to lure to voters to vote in its favour. But there was little institutional campaign to persuade the voters to vote out of one’s civic duty and obligation towards democracy.

Some feel that rising literacy rate automatically translates into higher voting. Such complacency should have no room.  At the first general elections in India (1951-1952), the overall polling percentage was 51.15. It was considered as ‘by no means unsatisfactory’. The general literacy rate in those days did not exceed 17 percent. However, the voting percentage has not significantly appreciated with the sharp rise in literacy. In 2009 less than 60 percent of the enrolled voters cast their votes whereas the Census of India, 2011 revealed that literacy rate was 74 percent.

Thus in 2009, the Election Commission took up a messianic role to enhance voters’ turnout. The Election Commission designed a comprehensive programme called SVEEP (or Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation).Capture.JPG

Two slogans, which the Commission subsequently coined, capture the spirit of SVEEP – ‘Inclusive and Qualitative Participation’ and ‘No voter to be left behind”.

The SVEEP has, for the first time, put in place a structured voters’ awareness programme.

It identifies all key stakeholders whether individuals or institutions. It documents gaps in registration and voting that retard voters’ participation. These might be on the lines of gender, region, socio-economic status, health conditions, educational level, professional migration, language etc. The idea is to offer custom made solutions based on those findings. It replaces a conventional bureaucratic intervention with sociological intervention. SVEEP views every Indian citizen as a voter. Even an underage boy or girl is a future voter, who needs to be sensitized from now. Therefore education institutions are tapped in.

The voters’ turnaround stagnating below 65 percent (of enrolled voters) may not be exceptional for India. Still, the political scientists would not view it as a healthy trend. A higher voting percentage signifies a vibrant democracy. A low voting percentage indicates a politically indifferent society. There is a potential danger of disruptive forces trying to exploit the situation to discredit democracy itself. Thus democracy cannot be left to the grand idea alone. It has to be continually reinforced in the ballots.

In the 16th general elections in 2015, the voting percentage stood at a record high of 66.38 percent. Most commentators have attributed it to political factors. But some credit is definitely due to SVEEP awareness campaign. This is sure to be tested in the future elections. So next time we should attribute higher voting percentage not merely to political factors but also the SVEEP. Such an interpretation can itself act as a secondary awareness campaign.

The National Voters’ Day is a significant step amongst various initiatives taken by Election Commission of India to encourage the new voters to have their decisive say in the democratic process.

*The writer is a columnist and independent researcher based in New Delhi.

Making Payments Digitally

*Sarita Brara  i201612201.jpg

“It is may not be a big amount but definitely useful” says Mukesh Kumar Verma, a teacher  of government Primary school at Gonda in UP who received an SMS informing him that he had won Rs 1000 in the Lucky Grahak Yojana. Mukesh who is all for going digital says “It is simply better than handling cash,” besides other benefits.       lucky-grahak-yojana.png

Another lucky draw winner ,Satish Kumar a student preparing for  tenth class board exams is optimistic that  the digital mode of payments  will ultimately  help in  ‘putting an end to  black money as the prime minister has been emphasising’. Belonging to village Sarwatkhani in Bhadohi district of Sant Ravidas Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, Satish who wants to become a doctor hailed the scheme and said that digital payment is so much easier. Son of an agriculturist Satish Kumar says, “while going to buy  seeds  and other agriculture  inputs, carrying cash  was always fraught with risks but now with the government offering several modes of  digital payments, the fear of  being looted or robbed  is gone.”

digi-dhan-vyapar-yojana.png

Mukesh  and Satish Kumar are among a number of winners from rural India under the Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi-Dhan Vyapar Yojana awards launched on the 25th of December last year was to   encourage digital payments.

Promoting digital payment options, is an integral part of Government’s overall strategy to weed out black money and corruption from public life. And As the Union Minister of Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Digital India means honest governance, digital payment means an honest mode of transaction, and digital economy means a strengthened economy.”

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Under the two incentive schemes all transactions by consumers and merchants starting from the 9th of November last year till April 14, this year are eligible for the cash rewards in the lucky draw.

In an effort to make digital payments and less cash society a mass movement in India, the Digi Dhan Melas are taking  place in 100 different cities across the country over 100 days.  In the  first digi dhan mela  15000 winners were selected under 4 broad categories (USSD, UPI, AEPS, RuPay) from the eight crore digital transactions that took place between 9th November to 21st December last year. 15000 people will win awards every day for 100 days and the two incentive schemes will culminate with a mega draw on 14th April this year. All such transactions irrespective of the fact whether it has won daily / weekly prize, will be eligible for Mega Draw to be conducted on April 14, 2017.These will include three Mega prizes for consumers worth Rs. 1 crore, Rs 50 lakh and Rs 25 lakh. For merchants too there would be three mega prizes worth Rs. 50 lakh, Rs. 25 lakh and Rs. 12 lakh. . While 300 crore rupees would be spent on the prize for the two schemes Rs. 40 crore has been allocated for awareness and publicity. In all over 18.75 lakh persons will be able to win monetary rewards under these incentive schemes.

To spread awareness and  educate consumers and merchants about the digital payment options available to them  stake holders  of the digital payment system, like banks, wallets, telecom service providers, other financial service providers, UIDAI will also be present  at the Digidhan melas. According to  CEO Niti Aayog Amitabh Kant  the volume of digital transactions in India went up by 300 to 350 per cent in one and half month time  since the 9th of November which  showed the enthusiasm among the  people for  digital payment options.

To push digital payments  specially in the rural areas, the government is working on a mission  mode to provide training to over one crore rural citizens, through 2 lakh Common Service centres. In fact a number of steps have been taken for cashless transactions among in like improving the supply of cards and POS machines in rural areas.

Farmers mostly buy agriculture inputs like seeds, fertilisers etc with cash or on creditnabard-recruitment-2013.png because the technology has not yet fully reached rural areas. In order to enable farmers for cashless transactions NABARD has asked credit societies and cooperative banks to open saving accounts directly or under Jan Dhan. Farmers can buy seeds, fertilisers and other farming equipment through RuPAY cards. 200,000 point-of-sale (PoS) machines are planned to be deployed in 100,000 villages, for NABARD has allotted funds of Rs 120 crore. These PoS machines will be installed by commercial banks. NABARD will give Rs 6,000 per equipment incentive to the commercial banks for purchase of PoS machines.

India has huge potential to transform the economy in to a digital one and the Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley is confident that the Digital India movement will strengthen the country’s economic backbone.

Hopefully as Amitabh Kant, CEO Niti Aayog has said,” it is just a matter of time before India is heralded into an era of development, that is, digital revolution.”

 *Author is a New Delhi based independent Journalist and writes regularly in Newspapers on social sector issues.

 

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