We live in a connected world; internet has ensured that we are a smartphone away from all the news and commerce of the world.
The little village of Palnar in Dakshin Bastar Dantewada District, Chhattisgarh, also wanted to feel the power of the world in their palms. Situated in a remote area and acting as the nucleus of trading for 22 nearby villages, Palnar and its residents wanted to be connected to the world. While they were served by an all-weather road, what they wanted was to be on the Information Highway.
Since the coverage by BSNL and Airtel was patchy at best, and there was no scope to provide fibre optic network, the Administration decided to work on providing internet connectivity by creating a free Wi-Fi zone in the Palnar marketplace.
The biggest support for the Administration was the people of Palnar and the enthusiastic support of the Banks and the public representatives of the area. The free Wi-Fi zone also benefitted the Government oces like Public Health Centres (PHCs), Common Service Centres and the Gram Panchayat Bhawan. With the BSNL supported Wi-fi zone, villagers were suddenly exposed to the outside world through Social Media and other media apps.
Palnar marketplace in no time became the socio-economic hub of all the 22 villages in the area. The enthusiasm of the villagers gave a fillip to the ambition of the project. It was decided to push for Digital Financial Literacy (DFL) and aim at making Palnar ‘cashless’.
Notwithstanding the challenges, the task was attempted with zeal and commitment. Every Jan-dhan account holder was given a ‘Rupay’ card and Aadhar seeding of their accounts was done. The local SBI branch ensured that current accounts were opened for all shopkeepers. With regular meetings With regular meetings and innovative outdoor communication, the benefits of DFL were explained to the public. Innovation comes in many shapes, and here PoS machines were replaced by Eztap. Today, the shopkeepers of Palnar are adept at handling e-wallets and QR Codes making them the cynosure of all neighbouring villages.