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Rajasthan's Naya Gav Fought against Odds to Embrace Digital Economy

Rajasthan's Naya Gav Fought against Odds to Embrace Digital Economy
New Delhi : At first sight, there isn't much difference between Naya Gav in Rajasthan and countless other villages in the state. This small village in Ajmer, Rajasthan, has a population of 1,600 people and is characterised by small houses and only 5 shops. But what truly separates Naya Gav from similar villages in Rajasthan and India is its adoption of a cashless economy, scripting a success story earlier unheard of. Naya Gav's achievement has not been without a fair share of problems, but a collaborative effort by the district's schools, administration and banks ensured that the village successfully adopts the cashless model.

Prior to the demonitisation announcement of November 2016, Naya Gav too was dependent on cash based transactions and did not feel the need to switch to a cashless model. The scenario however, changed post the demonitisation announcement. The Union Government's push for a cashless economy and bringing the rural population under a cashless umbrella prompted the district administration of Ajmer to choose Naya Gav as an experimental model for establishment of a functioning cashless village.

"We knew there would be challenges but given that the villagers at Naya Gav had bank accounts and debit cards, it was a sensible choice. All that was needed was properly educating the villagers on how cashless transactions work and why it was a beneficial choice," said Gaurav Goyal, District Collector, Ajmer.

Also Read: Digital Payments: Services That Do Not Need Cash Anymore

The first step towards helping Naya Gav become cashless was to help explain the villagers the concept of a functioning cashless economy. Despite having bank accounts, villagers in Naya Gav were oblivious to the use of debit cards due to the absence of any Point-of-Sale (POS) machines in the shops or ATMs in the vicinity of the village. The district administration resorted to the help of students from two nearby schools to help in educating the villagers on how money is withdrawn using a debit card, how debit cards can be used for purchases and how mobile and internet banking works. The students were aided by officials from the nearby Bank of Baroda branch, who also went from door-to-door to ensure that villagers who did not possess a bank account possessed one, with a functioning debit card. The bank also helped the 5 shops purchase PoS machines so that villagers could conduct cashless transactions during purchase. Over a period of 50 days, the bank officials managed to educate the villagers on conducting cashless transactions.

But the absence of an important component for cashless transactions had the administration in a fix, which was good internet connectivity.  Despite the presence of a BSNL tower nearby, frequent power cuts often resulted in the loss of connectivity. The district administration reached out to BSNL for the installation of a better battery that would provide substantial backup.

"Internet connectivity is the most important component of going cashless. Poor internet connectivity hampered the cashless transactions of Naya Gav villagers initially, but as soon as the connectivity improved, villagers began utilising the PoS machines, as well as the nearest ATM at the bank of Baroda branch in Hamara," said Mr. Goyal.

Nearly 50 days after the demonitisation announcement, the district of Ajmer was awarded the Scroll of Honor by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself for encouraging cashless transactions in the villages of the district. Naya Gav became a focal point in Ajmer's becoming a cashless district, transforming itself from a cash dependent village to a digital  based one. But the district administration maintains that the task is still incomplete as continuous monitoring is needed to ensure that the villagers adhere to the model of digital economy and any grievances related to the same are immediately addressed.

"The issues related to network connectivity are being improved. When we began the journey towards a cashless economy, we knew that we'd face hardships in bringing the villagers under a cashless system. But since December 2016, villagers have also shown interest in adopting the cashless model. We are continuously monitoring all the villages in the district to ensure that the cashless initiative remains functional," said Mr. Goyal.


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About The Campaign

About The Campaign

NDTV along with MasterCard is launching a multi-platform campaign “Cashless Bano India”, to create digital awareness and educate the masses about digital payment solutions for day to day transactions.

The campaign aims to take the message of a cash free India to the country, all while educating them on the ways and means to do it.

We aim to reach out to people and educate them on:

1). Digital and financial literacy

2). New generation digital payment solutions

3). Enabling merchants and consumers to understand and adopt secured and safe payment Solutions

4). Ease of usage at point of sales