UNESCO has adopted the theme of ‘Literacy in a digital world’ this year on the occasion of International Literacy Day.
As per Census 2011, the literacy rate in India is merely 76%, far lower than the global literacy rate of 86.3%. Digital illiteracy is even higher, posing a threat to India’s growth story. These numbers highlight the significance of providing education for a sustainable growth.
India is currently in the midst of a large effort to modernise its financial services and move individuals into the electronic financial space. The government has demonstrated its keenness through with demonetisation and the launch of Bharat QR, BHIM, an app developed to further its cashless push.
However, there are several challenges peculiar to India that may constrain a full-scale digital transition in the foreseeable future. The race to go digital cannot be turned into a marathon sprint. India culturally believes in cash and a paradigm shift in thinking will need time and resources.
Corporate houses as part of their CSR are working on initiatives to bridge this gap.
Mahindra Rural Housing Finance Ltd. in association with Mahindra Finance undertook a nationwide exercise to raise awareness on various digital payment methods available to the rural population. It launched a financial literacy campaign to Go Cashless. More than 5000 employees volunteered in this initiative across six states.
It aimed to spread awareness about subjects such as usage of bank account, electronic transfer of money, usage of Mobile wallets, the importance of having a stable mobile number, etc.
Swadhaar FinAccess, an NGO that works with low-income communities, launched the pilot for a money management app ‘Swadhaar Saathi’, amongst 180 women from low-income population across Ghatkopar, Bhandup and Thane areas, in the last week of April 2017. These selected women were given mobile phones and data for three months to help understand their usage pattern, the support required in furthering their usage and the enablers and limitations in using the application. Citi Foundation helped support the development of the app along with bearing the cost for the data connections.
Another initiative is ‘YES for ME’ – Youth Empowerment Series for Micro-Entrepreneurs’, by Learning Links Foundation. It aims to enhance the livelihood prospects of 2400 youth in Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Bengaluru by imparting entrepreneurial skills, digital and financial literacy courses and spoken English training. Training the youth interested in entrepreneurship to create strong business cases to obtain funding from various investors. Envisioning to create 1000 confident entrepreneurs and providing full-time job opportunities to 400 youth in a span of 21 months.
It is crucial to realise the importance of sustained financial advocacy programmes. To ensure the inclusion of rural areas and help them understand digital payments meetings at all levels such as branch offices, gram sabhas and gram panchayats so as to ensure they walk in sync with the rest of the nation in financial growth and literacy.
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The CSR Journal Team