The ‘Aspirational Districts Programme’ that will focus on digital literacy, e-governance and digital skill building for the marginalized communities was officially launched on Dec 14, 2022 in New Delhi in presence of Rakesh Ranjan, Mission Director – Aspirational Districts Programme, NITI Aayog
NASSCOM Foundation, a non-profit representing tech industry in India, has forayed into the most backward districts of the country with its “Aspirational Districts Programme”—a collaborative digital literacy, e-governance and digital skill building initiative along with partners—AISECT and Haqdarshak. The initiative is also supported by Niti Aayog.
Under this programme, the Foundation will establish Digital Resource Centres (DRCs) in 55 out of 120 aspirational districts recognized by Niti Aayog. Already 20 such DRCs have been set up. By March 2024, the number of centres will go up to 55, and digitally enabling and skilling more than 3.5 million lives.
Digital Resource Centres will act as change agents and engines of development, ensuring they provide need-based information, resources and an array of government-based services that will positively impact citizens’ lives and their livelihoods. These will have computers and mobile devices to ensure inclusive access. According to Nidhi Bhasin, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation, each centre located centrally in the district for maximum access will train 45-50 women from the community, who in turn will become ‘Digital Ambassadors’ and trainers for a multiplying force effect and promote women entrepreneurship. Another key focus area of the NASSCOM Foundation programme is to generate awareness of appropriate government schemes and e-governance services in addition to imparting quality training in digital skills. e-Governance tools will be made available to communities at large. By leveraging technology and digital knowledge, this programme will also empower the youth to appropriately nurture their talents.
She adds: “The Government’s Aspirational Districts Programme spearheaded by NITI Aayog has triggered equitable growth and development in every corner of the country. As an extension to the government’s initiative, NASSCOM Foundations’ Aspirational Districts Programme focusses on the two aspects of inclusive growth and meeting SDG commitments. We are confident that through our collective efforts to roll out people-centric digital initiatives we will be able transform 55 districts and empower over 3.5 million lives and thus, make technology affordable, equitable and most importantly accessible to the last mile.”
Under the programme, NASSCOM Foundation is tapping into more than 100 aspirational districts out of which 55 districts have been identified as of now across 23 states (Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Manipur) and a few have already been established across the country. The programme directly aligns with NASSCOM Foundation’s core philosophy of TechForGood wherein technology initiatives are utilized to create positive social impact. Apart from strengthening the efforts to meet the SDG agenda, this will also prioritize economic development across communities in alignment with the PM’s vision of Digital India mission.
Rakesh Ranjan, Mission Director – Aspirational Districts Programme, NITI Aayog, who was present at the launch lauded NASSCOM Foundation’s initiative and said that it adds to the list of non-profits working in various sectors in these districts. He urged the implementers to work in collaboration with district administrations for greater outcome. “There has a remarkable transformation in basic services and focus shifting to households from villages in the last a few years and there is a large need for taking Government schemes to people and digital is an another method ,” he said while acknowledging the good work of foot soldiers (contract teachers, Asha & Anganwadi workers, etc.) and informed that Prime Minister reviews the progress of Aspirational Districts critically and regularly.
Implementation Partners of the programme Arvind Chaturvedi, Vice President, AISECT and Madhura Karnik, Haqdarshak who were present at the event also explained their collaborative roles in the project and hoped, the programme will meet its objectives fully.