(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Empowering Rural India

(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Empowering Rural India


Empowering Rural India


In light of the United Nations projection that the global food system must sustain more than 9 billion people by 2050 without harming the ecosystem, it is crucial to reimagine an efficient and sustainable food production system. Concurrently, rural communities grapple with issues such as market inaccessibility, ageing populations, depopulation, and Inadequate public services, which can impact sustainabie food production, in view of the same, ‘Digitalisation’ emerges as a solution, improving agricultural resource efficiency and enriching rural services. 

Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions

  • The Industrial Revolution 4.0, marked by the integration of digital technologies, holds transformative potential, contrasting historical societies like electricity and automation. Despite its promise, challenges hinder universal digital connectivity, primarily in rural areas where the urban-rural digital divide is intensified due to limited access, inadequate digital skills, and affordability.
  • In parallel, the agricultural sector is embarking on its own revolution known as ‘Agriculture 4.0’, and this paradigm shift is integrating digitalisation, automation, and artificial intelligence to address a spectrum of agricultural and environmental challenges, from crop and livestock production to weeding, pest control, and harvesting. 

Conditions for a Digital Transformation

The digital transformation of agriculture relies on specific conditions in various contexts:

a. Baste conditions: essential for technology use, encompass availability, connectivity (mobile subscriptions, network coverage, internet access), affordability, ICT education, and supportive policies (e-government) for digital strategies.
b. Enabling conditions, or ‘enablers’: include internet, mobile phones, social media use, digital skills, and support for agripreneurship and innovation culture (talent development, hackathons, incubators, and accelerators).
c. Digitalising: the sector will profoundly reshape work dynamics and shift labour and skill demands.

I. Government Initiatives for Digital Empowerment

Government initiatives for digital empowerment, particularly in rural areas, have been instrumental in transforming India’s digital landscape, The flagship "Digital India’ programme, launched in 2015, strives to bring government services to every corner of the country through high-speed internet. The Bharat Net Project further boosts this effort by enhancing e-banking, e-governanee, internet services, and e-education in villages, aiming to connect all Gram Panchayats with 100 Mbps connectivity. Additionally, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) promotes financial and digital inclusion in rural India by enabling online transactions through RuPay debit cards, reinforcing the nation’s digital outreach.

a. Al for All: NITI Aayog’s Initiative for Agri Digitalisation

India’s agriculture sector requires multi-faceted technological integration and collaboration among stakeholders. Solely relying on the private sector may not be cost-effective or efficient. Thus, government intervention is essential to address challenges. NITI Aayog targets 5 key sectors for Al implementation:

  • Healthcare: increased access and affordability of quality healthcare.
  • Agriculture: enhanced farmers income, increased farm productivity and reduction of wastage.
  • Education: improved access and quality of education.
  • Smart Cities and Infrastructure: efficient connectivity for the burgeoning urban population, 
  • Smart Mobility and Transportation: smarter and safer modes of transportation and better traffic and congestion problems.

b. Self-Reliant India (SRI) Fund empowering MSMEs for Aatmanirbhar Bharat

The SRI Fund stands as a key initiative in empowering Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India). This approach taps into the private sector’s robust capabilities to provide essential growth capital to viable MSMEs with clear expansion strategies. The fund employs a Mother Fund-Daughter Fund structure, ensuring a sustainable influx of growth capital for MSMEs. This support is extended through various financial instruments such as equity, quasi-equity, and equity-like structures, fostering financial resilience and self-reliance among India’s small and medium-sized enterprises.

c. Fintech Companies Initiatives for Digital Empowerment

  • Fintech companies have emerged as key players in advancing digital accessibility in rural India, recognizing its pivotal role in the nation’s economic development. Through collaborative efforts with the Government, these companies have propelled India from a cash reliant society to a digitally empowered nation, where digital payments have become universal.

Smart Entrepreneurship for a Self-Reliant Smart Village Economy

  • Rural areas, blessed with abundant natural resources and a skilled workforce, possess untapped entrepreneurial potential. 
  • Entrepreneurial endeavours in villages can catalyse rural economic development, bridge the income gap between rural and urban regions, and generate employment opportunities.
  • To harness this potential and bolster rural livelihoods, the Government has introduced numerous schemes. E-commerce for Rural Products The concept of ‘rural e-commerce’ is distinct from mainstream e-commerce, providing electronic platforms for rural products. Its purpose is to connect rural areas with urban markets and enhance income levels.
  • The Government initiatives like ‘Make in India/’Digital India/ and ‘Skill India’ are geared towards promoting SME growth and facilitating their entry into the e-commerce realm. Similar to how UPI (Unified Payments Interface) revolutionised retail payments, the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) initiative is poised to transform e-commerce, breaking entry barriers and fostering innovation opportunities.

Issues and Challenges faced

  • Payment-related Issues: Limited access to online payment solutions and banking services, along with a lack of trust in financial systems.
  • Lack of digital infrastructure: high Internet costs among rural populations impedes their engagement with digital platforms such as fibre optic lines, cell towers, internet routers, wireless spectrum
  • Logistics Challenges: including inefficient postal services, iimited logistics providers, high logistics costs, poor road infrastructure, and inadequate logistics solutions.
  • E-commerce Awareness: Rural populations, farmers, and entrepreneurs often lack knowledge about e-commerce, requiring training in mobile phone use, mobile banking, and e-commerce platforms.
  • Business Competence: Rural producers lack knowledge in drafting business and financial plans, branding, packaging and marketing of their products and knowledge and application of new product technologies.
  • Product Quality: Rural products may suffer from poor packaging, low quality, and a lack of competitiveness compared to Imported goods.
  • Language Barriers: Many e-commerce websites primarily use English, which poses a language barrier for rural users.
  • Currency Challenges: Handling International currencies can be a challenge for e-commerce businesses operating within India.


  • Empowering rural areas for digital transformation is not just an opportunity but a necessity for sustainable development. By bridging the digital gap between urban and rural regions, we can unlock the potential of these areas, boost economic growth, improve livelihoods, and contribute to environmental conservation.



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Courtesy: Kurukshetra