Sahaj’s e-governance project is on in full swing. Its investment of Rs 10 billion in setting up Internet kiosks all over the country. SREI Sahaj has announced its mandate of establishing a total of 24780 kiosks in six states – West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. These will cover 150,000 villages, and a population of over 21 crore.
Rural Job Portal: Chaakri.in
During the quarter, Sahaj also launched a recruitment site for rural youth Chaakri.in. A business development team approaches rural job seekers while a recruitment team matches their skills with vacancies in various industries. Chaakri.in has vacancies for carpenters, plumbers, electricians, courier boys, drivers, security guards, masons and barbers. For rural women, the site offers posts such as village computer operators, data entry operators, beauticians, and healthcare assistants. Vocational coaching is also being offered by Sahaj.
Loans For Setting Up CSCs
Sahaj has partnered with Punjab National Bank to offer loans to village level entrepreneurs to set up CSCs. In Bihar, where Sahaj plans to roll out 5540 CSCs, around 500 of 2000 entrepreneurs have applied for loan assistance. Each centre costs Rs 1.6 lakh to set up and entrepreneurs are required to invest a minimum of Rs 40,000. Sahaj expects the CSCs in the state to be operational by the end of the current fiscal year. It is also planning to tie up with the bank for providing similar loans to village level entrepreneurs in U.P. Assam and Orissa.
Nikhil adds: How About Mobile CSCs?
While we agree that mobile phones have their limitations, in terms of functionality, but the CSCs are essentially supposed to be a source of information, employment and opportunity for the rural areas – means of receiving essential information related to agriculture, government notices, payment of bills, print-outs of birth certificates, signing up for a voter ID, etc. If some means of connecting handsets to a printer can be established, wouldn’t that help bring down the cost below the Rs. 1.6 lakh for the set up for a CSC? And what happens in the rural areas when there is a power cut – won’t having a battery backup add to the cost?