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Pitfalls of leveraging Common Service Centers for rural vaccine drive

In a recently affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Central government recently appeared to have taken cognisance of the digital divide in the country and said that registration for vaccines will be done through Common Service Centres (CSC) in rural areas. As a result of this decision, the government effectively could create National Health IDs, as part of the National Digital Health Mission, en masse through these centres which historically have been enrolment points for various government initiatives including the Aadhaar project. CSCs' are IT Ministry physical centres spread across the country to provide public utility services, social welfare schemes, healthcare, financial, education and agriculture services to citizens without direct access to such services. In the affidavit, the Centre said that much of India lives in rural areas which which are governed by local self-governments at grassroots levels like Panchayats. "After the country entered the digital era, almost all these gram panchayats have established common service centres which have a digital platform to be used by the people. This CSCs and its (sic) infrastructure is widely and effectively used in rural areas for various purposes and is found to be an effective module taking the development to the grass root levels. This provides access to the internet to a vast variety of persons who may not be adept in using it or may not have direct access to it." However, this move still ignores the existing vaccine distribution infrastructure that the country has in place and instead insists on relying…

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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