The union government's Department of Food and Public Distribution on Monday announced a "model MoU" with CSC e-Governance Services India Limited (CSC) to get ration shops to deliver CSC services like utility bill payments, PAN application, passport application, and voter ID services. This is being done "to facilitate the consumer and simultaneously provide additional income to the [ration shops]," the government said in its press release. "CSC will tie up with individual State Government for signing up of bilateral MoUs for providing interested FPS dealers access to Digital Seva Portal (DSP) for delivery of CSC services. CSC has committed to undertake sharing of technical know-how and capacity building." CSCs deal with a lot of personal data of the poorest Indians who do not have easy access to digital services. Ration shops providing some of these features, in the absence of a personal data protection law, can put people's identity data at risk; this risk is already elevated with Aadhaar authentication for accessing subsidies being a reality in ration shops. While this MOU does not immediately get ration shops to start providing these services — state governments must first give their go-ahead — this is a development worth following. CSCs riddled with issues It's not just the transfer of CSC-esque responsibilities to ration shops that may be an issue — CSCs themselves have been spotty in theory and practice. For one, there are 13,000 gram panchayats that don't even have CSCs, leaving them exposed to a digital divide that the government…
Indian government nudges ration shops to provide CSC-like services, despite issues
The Indian government has signed an MoU to allow ration shops to provide servies like bill payments, PAN and Passport applications
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