Monday, June 5, 2017

Empowered Economy Digital & Cashless

Digital India Program is an effort of the Government  to empower and establish a digital society that is cashless and hence paperless. The flagship program aims to augur a knowledge based economy that will keep in accordance with developed World.  Albeit an effort in the right direction, it is by all means of Herculean nature. 

In order to implement a technology familiarisation of which is based on advance learning - amongst the masses - a pragmatic approach is required. We have to first understand the structural profile that the country embeds in its folds. The major aspect that makes implement of  advance technologies successful is the demographic ease with which it is adopted.

Our adult literacy stands at 74 percent which is far below that of the developed World. With World's largest illiterate populace adapting to new hitherto unknown means of financial transactions would be in the present context difficult. In order to bring in a positive demographic transition vis-a-vis education we have a long way to go.

But then it is now or never for digitisation of National economy. Hence encouraging the new mode by discouraging old financial dispensations through innovative campaigns is a must.   

It is not only literacy that matters, adaptation to a new environment faces hurdles due to a stagnant mindset that prevails in a deeply tradition bound society. In India not only the corrupt but the honest as well are immensely habituated to cash based systems since ages.

In order to stem the rot and obliterate corrupt practices digital technology appears to be at the forefront. But than do the masses feel at home with it? How quickly will we adapt to the digitised mode of financial transactions? 

Another major hindrance is the communication infrastructure that prevails in the country. In order to digitise, an efficient and foolproof communication system is the need of the hour. Accessibly to high speed low cost Internet with pan India spread is an imperative. The infrastructure albeit improving is far from adequate.

Take the example of ATM machines and their upkeep. Frequent breakdowns, lethargic cash management and accessibility are the key factors that riddles smooth flow of cash. The supporting factors like electricity, transportation and saturation of  machines are severely lacking especially in remote settlements. Understanding new often app based technologies like online payment gateways, e wallets and other modes of cashless transaction will take loads of time. Hence integration of masses with these systems is time bound not immediate. Thankfully old systems have not been discontinued hence alternate familiar means are there to facilitate individual needs.      

The crucial banking sector is exhibiting hiccups in adapting to the new environment. Most of the employees are slow to adapt, hence encumbering the organization with additional training inputs.

The problem is further  compounded by the fact that disproportionately large habitation in India is rural and remote, and that too dependant on an agrarian economy. Most of the inequities like illiteracy, poverty and a stagnant economy dependaning solely on the monsoon are found amongst the rural segment. Severely lacking in infrastructure development regards basic necessity; the rural segment suffers from vast economic disparities as well.

On the contrary the most of the advance technologies are highly urban centric. How the rural segment copes with this new transition only time will tell. One positive factor I have come to notice is the ease with which people have adapted to wireless telephony (read mobile), but the lack of Internet kiosks and their popularity is not at all encouraging. Look we are trying to implement a system which is popular in homogenous, tech savvy and highly literate populace of the developed World. These attributes do not apply to our country with diverse demography, loads of illiteracy and comparatively small segment of tech savvy populace.                   

Breaking the norm in an ecosystem that flourishes on cash is not an easy task. Nevertheless the programme has to go ahead if we have get rid of the old system that to a great extent facilitates tax evasion, subversive activities as well as encumbers the banking system in time of automation with extra manpower.                     

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