At a time when India is going through a digital revolution, massive gaps have been found in the availability of computers in rural households with Minister of State for IT P P Chaudhary informing the Rajya Sabha that as many as 15 crore rural households do not own a computer.

According to information provided by Chaudhary, the proportion of households in the country with computers during 2014 was around 14 percent and only 6 percent rural and 29 percent urban households possessed computers

Chaudhary pointed out that the unavailability of computers in these many households ultimately translates into digital illiteracy. The proportion of persons (14 years and above) who can use computer for word processing or typing in rural India is found to be 7.8 percent. The report indicates that in 14-29 years age group in rural India, only 18 percent were able to operate a computer.

“Similarly, in the age group of 30-45 years, the percentage drops further to 4 percent. In the age group of 46-60 years, the percentage is just more than 1 percent,” Chaudhary said.

He said the government is taking various measures to promote digitisation and cashless payments in the country, including delivery of government services through Common Services Centres (CSCs) where IT and telecom usage is low, laying of optical fibre network across 2.5 lakh gram panchayats and the like.

“The government has approved a scheme titled ‘Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan’ to usher in digital literacy in rural India by covering 6 crore rural households (one person per household) by March 31, 2019,” Chaudhary said.

To ensure equitable geographical reach, each of the approximately 2,50,000 gram panchayats will be expected to register an average of 200-300 candidates, he said.

“Digitally literate persons would be able to operate computers or digital access devices like tablets, smartphones, etc, send and receive emails, browse the Internet, access government services, search for information and undertake cashless transactions, and hence use IT to actively participate in the process of nation building,” Chaudhary said.