Taking E-Governance To Rural Areas

Kumar P Saha
Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer
Senrysa Technologies Pvt Ltd

“We are keen to establish long-term relationships with our customers and meet their evolving needs by coming up with the best possible solutions,” says Kumar P Saha

Senrysa has a strong focus on the banking and financial Services space. What is your view of the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme that the government has launched?
With our experience in implementing financial inclusion in many parts of the country, we feel people are financially literate to some extent; but many people in rural areas are still not aware about various government schemes as they are not connected with banking systems. Even today people in rural areas need to walk miles to reach nearest bank and access banking services. Another reason for lack of awareness about banking and insurance facilities is the educational and cultural gap between the bank staff and rural masses. This kind of gap separates the rural customers from conventional banking system. Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), which was started for proper utilisation of funds for upliftment of economic level of rural masses, has made it easier to encourage the rural populace to embrace the banking system. However, opening of bank account for direct benefit transfer is one thing and inspiring the rural customer for taking up various financial activities is something quite different. This is where the banks themselves and the administration have a key role to play.
You have also been working in the area of e-Governance. Tell us about your experience?
Success of large scale service delivery projects in e-Governance depend on the will and cooperation of local administration. Technology has little role in success and failure of such type of projects. Senrysa has been lucky that in most cases, local administration was fully involved and they ensured that the project was successful. Service provider cannot make large scale service delivery project like financial inclusion successful, unless there is full involvement of the administration.

You have contributed in the Aadhaar Enabled Payment System. In your opinion, how challenging is this project, especially in the light of huge de-duplication of the data that is involved?
Aadhaar Enabled Payment System or AEPS is another channel of transaction like ATM, mobile banking, etc. Basically AEPS is a low cost channel; as it requires little lead time to start transaction. In rural areas where delivery network is very poor, AEPS can be a favourable channel as after account opening, it take almost 15-20 days to deliver smart cards to the customer. But there are lot of challenges in rolling out AEPS, as large number of rural people have not received Aadhaar card. Slow progress in Aadhaar seeding with bank account is also an area of concern. De-duplication is a technological challenge that UIDAI has tackled with deft competence by building a secure and robust infrastructure. Today India’s biometric database is one of the biggest of its kind with highest level of security. This by itself is a big achievement.

Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) has made it easier to encourage the rural populace to embrace the banking system”

There has been a recent Supreme Court judgement regarding Aadhaar. What kind of impact will it have?
Services cannot be denied in cases where residents do not have Aadhaar number. Therefore the authority should put in place an exception handling mechanism, which ensures that the technology is reasonably supplemented, so that it does not become an impediment between entitlements and beneficiaries. Supreme Court’s observations can be viewed as a guiding stricture that sets the intrinsic spirit of the effort on the right track.

How do you look at healthcare sector, as there is a lot to be done across the country? What role can ICT play in enhancement of services?
In rural areas healthcare service delivery is extremely poor due to inferior infrastructure, dearth of qualified healthcare professionals and poor communication facility. Technology plays a major role in providing healthcare at home or close to home. This means we can provide healthcare and care services to the users and reverse the historical delivery model. India can build a knowledge based expert system that will utilise the country’s investment in fast broadband to provide tele-health services at rural community centres. Technology can harness the access to rural areas in the country in the healthcare space. For instance, mobile phones can be used to beep important health messages across India, reminders can be sent to get children inoculated and advice can be given to pregnant women to get checkups in time. Such initiatives will lead to lot of improvement in the quality of life that the rural masses enjoy.

In what ways can technology play a seminal role in rural development? Please tell us about the initiatives that Senrysa has taken in this area?
Today a large section of rural population uses mobile phones; this has opened up a huge avenue of service mostly in the area of mobile banking, G2C, B2C, etc., which was made possible only by technological advancement. Government’s decision to disburse payments directly to the beneficiaries’ account would propel further economic activity at the rural level, but success of this initiative will also depend on the adaptation of new technology by banking industry. Senrysa has been engaged in financial inclusion projects of banks for many years. Today people in every section of society are becoming aware of their financial rights. Direct Benefit Transfer has indeed been a boon to the rural development.

Mobile phones can be used to beep important health messages across India, reminders can be sent to get children inoculated and advice can be given to pregnant women to get checkups in time

Tell us about some of the initiatives that you are planning for future?
Rural banking is our major focus area. Today Senrysa is investing heavily on building new solution and services model based on Aadhaar and Rupay. Education, healthcare and agriculture are our other focus areas. Essentially Senrysa is focussed on building robust platforms for the rural mass. In healthcare, we are building small hand-held devices that will have access to a remote database containing information on various ailments and a possible line of treatments. Software installed in the hand held device will give proper guidance to the people so that they can undertake remedial measures in a quick time. The system will also collect data regarding different kinds of symptoms being detected in any particular geographical stretch. If any symptom is identified, the administration will be alerted so that timely measures can be taken to resist outbreaks of epidemics.

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