The Common Services Center Scheme (CSC)
The Common Services Center Scheme is a part of the ambitious National e-Governance Plan (NeGP). The Scheme envisages the setting up of 100,000+ IT-enabled access points to be implemented in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The Common Service Centers (CSCs) have been positioned as front end delivery outlets for delivery of Government as well as Private Sector services.
The CSC Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)
Under the CSC Scheme, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) has been formed, so that the Government can progressively migrate to an e-Governance platform and enable services through the CSC network. The CSC SPV which is named as ‘CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd’ has been incorporated under the Companies Act 1956 on 16th July, 2009. The primary role of the CSC SPV is to monitor the CSC Scheme and its outcomes on behalf of the Government at the National and State levels. In brief, key roles would include:
– Ensuring systemic viability and sustainability of the CSC Scheme
– Monitoring the outcomes being achieved by the CSCs
– Enabling delivery of G2C and B2C services via the CSCs
– Providing a standardized framework for collaborative decision making
– Catalysing and maintaining content aggregation on an on-going basis
– Building stakeholder capacity and best practices sharing
Government of India has formulated the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) with the vision of providing all government services at an affordable cost, and integrated manner at the doorstep of the citizen. To achieve the mission, the Department of Information & Technology (DIT), Government of India, has planned to rollout out over 100,000 Common Services Centers (CSCs) across the country with a focus on the rural areas by June 2011. CSCs are envisioned as the front-end delivery points for government, private and social sector services to citizens of India. Further, CSCs will deliver services in the areas of telecom, agriculture, health, education, entertainment, FMCG products, banking and financial services, utility payments, etc. Each CSC is expected to serve a cluster of 6-7 villages, thereby covering more than six lakh villages across India.
Under the project, the idea is to facilitate a platform that will enable government, private and social sector organizations to integrate their social and commercial goals and take the benefits of information and communication tools (ICT) to the remotest corners of the country.
CSC as a Change Agent:
The CSCs are much more than mere service delivery points in the rural India. A CSC is positioned as a Change Agent as it - promotes rural entrepreneurship, builds rural capacities and livelihoods, enables community participation and effects collective action for social change - through a bottom-up approach having a key focus on the rural citizen.
ICT for Rural Empowerment
ICT as an enabler:
ICT can be a powerful enabler of developmental goals as its use can dramatically improve communications and exchange of information for strengthening and creating new economic and social networks. ICT is pervasive and can be applied to the full range of human activity-from personal use to business and government. ICT is multifunctional and flexible, allowing for tailored solutions to meet diverse needs of the population. ICT facilitates disintermediation,
as it makes it possible for users to acquire products and services directly from the original provider, reducing the need for intermediaries. ICT is fair, equal and transparent as it does not differentiate on the basis economic status, religion or castes of its users.
The development challenge:
About two-thirds of India's predominantly rural population having agriculture as its primary occupation, accounts for less than one-third of the National Income leading to disparity in incomes in rural and urban India. Government agencies, domestic and international institutions associated with development, and NGOs have been engaged in addressing this persistent development problem, each in their own space and time, armed with their respective development ideologies and tools. Traditional rural development interventions have been centered round the following parameters:
- a) Rural development programmes and schemes launched either at central, state or local government level;
- b) Decentralization of planning;
- c) Better enforcement of land reforms and;
- d) Greater access to credit;
The strategy has been evolving with time, and taking into its fold new approaches such as participatory local governance, community development, technology diffusion and rural entrepreneurship. While the participatory local governance and community development approaches have been well absorbed and adopted by the Government agencies; the induction of ICT and 'rural entrepreneurship' into the rural development domain by NGOs at the grassrootlevel, has been more or less unorganized (despite the promising growth in ICT infrastructure and information system in urban areas).
The work on ambitious CSC project is in progress and currently implementation is going on in 35 States and UTs. The CSCs are being set up by private franchisees called the Service Center Agencies (SCA) – have already been appointed in most of the States. The SCAs further appoint Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE) to run and manage the CSCs in pre-defined locations. The Scheme is being implemented in a Public Private Partnership (PPP) framework with a focus on rural entrepreneurship & market mechanisms.
The CSCs focus on content customization and multi- lingual delivery of end-to- end services for income enhancement in the rural areas.