Jharkhand, a tribal-dominated state in eastern India, has been ranked second in achieving targets set by NITI Aayog to register citizens and merchants for the Digital India drive since December, as per government statistics.
Chhattisgarh tops the list in signing up merchants, achieving 180.69% of the target set, followed by Jharkhand at 108.97%, Bihar 108.93%, Jammu and Kashmir 97.41%, Chandigarh 96.47% and Odisha 90.03%.
In bringing common man to the digital fold, Jharkhand recorded 27.8 lakh people, behind Madhya Pradesh with 31.7 lakh and is followed by Chhattisgarh 17.1 lakh, Karnataka 15.4 lakh, Maharashtra 15.2, Uttar Pradesh 14.9 lakh and Gujarat 10.2 lakh.
The rankings are done based on the total number of digital transactions, ratio of cash to digital transactions, and penetration and usage of different modes.
The figures are from December 5, 2016 to February 28, 2017, in which Jharkhand got 48,198 merchants on the drive, against a target of 44,230. This was, however, way below Chhattisgarh’s 1,75,880, Uttar Pradesh’s 1,07,370 and Bihar’s 96,858, whose targets were much higher.
Government’s digital drive to further cashless transactions followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of demonetisation of Rs 500/1,000 notes, which left common man with little cash in hand.
Significantly, most of the states which have recorded a high turnout of citizens and merchants for the drive are ruled by BJP—Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Within Jharkhand, Ranchi topped the list of registered merchants (22,039), followed by Singhbhum (3,733) and Sahebganj (3,525).
While 2,28,506 citizens have been included in Dhanbad, only 486 merchants could be registered till February in the district. Similar is the situation in other districts such as Bokaro (2,08,873 citizens; 759 merchants), Chatra (17,466 citizens; 630 merchants), Deoghar (66,064 citizens; 1,500 merchants).
Jharkhand finance secretary Amit Khare said regular workshops are on and more merchants and people will be included under the digital mission by March end.
Jharkhand’s anchor of common services centre (CSC) under the special purpose vehicle of the IT ministry, Sambhu Kumar said they faced problems in the drive, as several merchants were unwilling as they were not used to smartphones, besides difficulties in downloading applications (mainly BHIM app) and other factors.
Kumar said workshops were held in 260 blocks, 24 district headquarters and nine VLEs (training the master trainers), besides HEC, CCL, Central University of Jharkhand and in Tata Steel.