First Indian Digital Village With Wi-Fi

Akodara, a village in the district of Gujarat, India was the first test site chosen under Indian government public-private initiative to digitise the country.

Tapping on your mobile instead of whipping out your wallet to either fish about cash or a credit card may be a commonplace process of payment nowadays, however, 5-6 years back, it was not that prevalent, especially in a rural context. Not so in Akodara, a village in Sabarkantha district of Gujarat State in India. About 64 kilometres from the state capital of Gandhinagar, its population is a shade under 2000.

Stroke Of Experimental Luck

In a bid to gauge the feasibility of turning remote towns and villages into public access digital zones, the Indian government in association with the largest lending Bank of the country floated a public-private initiative to digitise a model village in 2015 and wanted to study its effects, including the financial ones, on the lives of these uninitiated inhabitants.

Akodara fell nicely into their scheme of things, and its success eventually prompted this initiative to be made available to a hundred more rural towns.

Need For Digitisation

This is part of the country's greater agenda to ease its citizens into adopting a paperless transaction economy.

Additionally, digitalisation is also necessary because there are approximately more than 233 million unbanked people in India, and they invariably find themselves trapped with loans — and consequently their mercy — offered by the loan sharks and money lenders, and get mired deeper in debts.

Digitally Savvy

It did help that the village was mildly prosperous and well-positioned to adopt the transformation. Being only 10 kilometres away from Himmatnagar, the village's state administrative centre, it meant that they had stable mobile connectivity. The villagers were also known to occasionally ordered goods online, as it was geographical well-placed. The village also has a high literacy rate with a good concentration of teachers. So, in a way, ideas about digitisation and digital transactions were nothing new to them. In fact, they welcome it with great enthusiasm.

Digitisation Process

The villagers were initiated into his experience with the third knowledge of cashless banking. Every relevant person in the village set up the bank account and tutor how to conduct financial transactions online.

And then, in order to digitise other aspects of the lives, a Wi-Fi system encompassing the whole village was instituted. Since a major source of the village's income came from its milk cooperative society, a digital tracking and payment solution for the same was provided. Women folks were first trained the in agricultural, dairy, composting, equipment repair, hand embroidery, dress design, and sandstone cutting disciplines, and then were given a loan to carry out their livelihood and transactions independently.