New Delhi, June 15 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said his pet Digital India initiative is a war against touts and middlemen, helping check blackmoney and black marketing while creating immense job opportunities in small towns and rural areas.
Interacting with beneficiaries of the various Digital India initiatives, Modi associated use of home-grown card network RuPay with nationalism and appealed to everyone to adopt it for digital payments.
"We have to take Digital India forward. Touts are upset with Digital India. We can easily fight for our rights through Digital India," Modi said.
The Prime Minister said people made fun of him when he first spoke of digital payments in the country where people were used to stashing money underneath the pillow and ration could not be availed without middlemen. But experiences narrated by beneficiaries of how services are reaching people directly are a befitting reply to such naysayers, he said.
"Now middlemen are not required for ration, poor get full amount of their hard work directly in their bank account. When poor farmers of villages have started adopting digital payment, now they (middlemen) have started spreading new rumours," Modi said.
He said middlemen are now spreading lies that money is not safe in digital transactions and it is a conspiracy to send money directly to bank accounts which will shut down their business.
He said Digital India has ceased commissions of middlemen and that is why they are obstructing the good work by spreading rumours.
"Digital India has checked blackmoney and black marketing and uprooted middlemen...middlemen are going to create trouble. Modi has created big problem for them. They will keep abusing from whichever platform they get but we have to take our nation to the forefront of the world," Modi said.
The government's digital payment application BHIM saw more than 91.5 crore transactions involving an amount of Rs 10,983 crore in 2017-18, from 1.78 crore transactions worth Rs 695 crore at the end of 2016-17.
Modi asked the beneficiaries to press traders and shopkeepers to install BHIM app to facilitate paying for goods and services digitally.
He pushed for use of RuPay, the Indian version of credit/debit card, saying when other similar cards are used the transaction or processing fee goes to foreign companies.
"Those who talk about patriotism, everyone cannot go to the border for security of the nation. We can serve nation through RuPay card as well. If you develop a habit of using RuPay card...that will also become a medium to serve the nation," Modi said.
He said there are around 50 crore RuPay cards in the country.
Till May 2018, transaction through RuPay card increased to Rs 2,347 crore from Rs 1,929 crore at the end of March 2018.
He said the development of villages, poor, farmers and Digital India is complimentary to each other.
He said under the Prime Minister Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan, 1.25 crore candidates have been trained, out of which 70 per cent belong to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward class.
"This shows one big group of people which was left behind is now progressing because of Digital India," Modi said.
He said while the National Knowledge Network -- a high speed dedicated broadband network for universities -- has linked over 1,700 educational and research institutions, libraries, academicians, government officials and more than 5 crore students, citizen engagement platform 'mygov' has 60 lakh volunteers.
He said the push for domestic electronic manufacturing has seen setting up of 23 electronic manufacturing centres in 15 states and the number of units manufacturing mobile handsets and their components multiply from just two in 2014 to over 120 now, providing direct and indirect employment to 4.5 lakh people.
Also, the Rs 550 crore BPO promotion scheme has led to the creation of 2 lakh job opportunities as it took business process outsourcing centres to smaller cities and towns by providing financial assistance of up to Rs 1 lakh for every seat.
"Along with digital empowerment, we also want technology to boost innovation," he said.
Modi said the network of about three lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs), which act as access points for delivery of digital services, have bolstered employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, thus empowering citizens.
He said the initiative was launched with an objective of bringing benefits of technology to people, especially in rural areas.
Addressing the Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs), who run these centres, via video conferencing, Modi said Digital India was launched with an aim to connect India's villages and youth.
Over the last four years it has brought a slew of services to the doorsteps of the common man, he said. "Every aspect of digital empowerment has been worked on, from rolling out fibre optics in villages to digital literacy," Modi said.