It was almost like an eclipse. Only an unusually prolonged one. For more than a week it was as if India had passed into the shadows and the Cyber world had taken over. The entire country was resonating with heated debates, discourses, even ugly slanging matches, on the issue of Net neutrality. How neutral a platform should the Net remain to provide all e-commerce entrepreneurs a level playing field and let them expand, unfettered? This was the core issue that unleashed the storm.
Meanwhile, work was in progress in a cluster of villages in coastal Kutch, Gujarat, to set up the basic infrastructure required to gain entry and do business in the cyber world. Here four gram panchayats are being helped, technically and financially, to digitise their records and administration processes. A farsighted move that would prepare the residents of Moti Khakhar, Nani Khakhar, Tunda tundaand Mota Kandagara villages to track and then put to use the latest developments on the tech front. The fact that these hamlets spread across Mandvi and Modhva talukas of Kutch lie within the project site of Tata Power’s wholly owned subsidiary, Coastal Gujarat Power (CGPL), also has a special significance. CGPL drives multi-dimensional community development programmes that cover every aspect of human life–health, education, income generation and livelihood restoration, infrastructure development, energy conservation and natural resource management.
The digitisation project, too, has been conceptualised by CGPL and now being rolled out in ‘partnership’ with the local panchayats. The software offers customised service to gram panchayat officials to digitise their records and administration processes such as certificates of birth and death, proof of income, proof of caste, bona-fide certificate, proof of residence, etc. as well as forms/applications of various government schemes such as widows’ pension, old age pension scheme and disability pension scheme, among others.
In other words, the system works as a custodian of important documents on behalf of the people at grassroots level. A job with great responsibility as a missing paper—a common phenomenon in any government office—can put his/her entire existence in jeopardy.
CGPL, however, has offered e-services to its e-partners before. It has set up the Fishermen Information Centre (FIC) at Tragadi Bunder, Mundra to help the fishing community to communicate with the world outside. At the Centre the locals can follow the market trends, establish links directly with bulk buyers, thereby sidestepping the intermediaries. They can liaise with the fishery department, check out the status of the latest government schemes or pick up helpful tips on how to use the latest fishing equipment in the market. The FIC is operational for 6 hours a day and benefits the transient fishermen at Tragadi Bunder.
So gaining and providing access to comprehensive and unbiased information is CGPL’s mantra for success. It is also the Company’s key strategy vis-à-vis its community partners. Because CGPL is not interested in sustaining a rank of beneficiaries, perpetually dependent on its support. It is in the business of creating equal partners to move ahead in the path of development.