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India’s Drive for Inclusive Digital Empowerment

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In a move toward technological integration in rural development, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi heralded the significance of the NAMO Drone Didi scheme. The scheme, aimed at fostering women’s pivotal roles in local farming supply chains and enhancing rural prosperity, marks a paradigm shift in leveraging tech for socio-economic elevation.

During his address to the nation on 15 August 2023, PM Modi emphasised the invaluable contributions of women across diverse sectors, from banks to Anganwadi centres. His resolute objective: empowering two crore Lakhpati Didis (sisters) in rural landscapes. To realise this vision, a groundbreaking initiative was unveiled – a programme poised to train 15,000 female Self-Help Group (SHG) members in drone operation and maintenance.

Image credits: PM Yojana website

Under the overarching umbrella of the project, the Drone Didi Yojana 2023-24 was launched on 30 November 2023, symbolising a pivotal leap toward economic autonomy for women. This commitment materialised with the approval of a transformative scheme, allocating Rs. 1261 crore, facilitated by the cabinet. The vision: enabling female SHGs to harness the potential of drones.

Foremost among the scheme’s objectives is the empowerment of women, nurturing their financial autonomy through the allocation of 15,000 drones. These technological tools offer avenues for employment, fostering independence among these enterprising individuals. Moreover, the integration of drones in agriculture promises a multifaceted impact, bolstering not just the agricultural sector but also influencing ancillary industries positively.

Acknowledging this pioneering initiative, the Minister of Agriculture acknowledged the scheme’s capacity to uplift the livelihoods of SHG-affiliated women. Furthermore, the advent of drone technology in farming endeavours is set to revolutionise conventional practices and mitigate health hazards stemming from pesticide exposure while optimising fertilisation processes by curbing over or under-spraying.

India’s commitment to uplifting farmers nationwide through various welfare programmes is underscored by this innovative launch. The Namo Drone Didi Yojana signifies a pivotal stride toward enhancing female participation in the agricultural domain.

The government’s cognisance of societal needs and the commitment to uphold socio-economic rights further underscores the significance of this groundbreaking scheme. It’s poised not just to empower women but also to amplify employment opportunities, charting a course toward self-reliance and inclusive growth.

In essence, the Drone Didi Yojana heralds a new era of technological assimilation, fostering economic independence for women and heralding transformative progress in the agricultural landscape of India.

India’s commitment to inclusive digital transformation is poised to redefine the nation’s landscape, especially in underserved areas, farming and the empowerment of women. With an unwavering emphasis on bridging the digital divide, the country aims to leverage technology as a catalyst for socio-economic empowerment.

Moreover, this transformation is intricately woven with the empowerment of all sectors of society, with a special focus on women, aiming to provide equal access to digital resources and opportunities.

By ensuring inclusivity in the digital sphere, India envisages not just technological progress but a holistic societal evolution, where every segment, including rural communities and women, can actively participate in and benefit from the country’s digital journey.

In rural India, where agriculture forms the backbone of livelihoods, the integration of digital tools and technological advancements promises to revolutionise farming practices, optimising yields and fostering sustainability.

To encourage spatial planning by India’s village councils (gram panchayats), OpenGov Asia reported that the Ministry of Panchayati Raj introduced Gram Manchitra, a geographic information system (GIS) application. The tool enables and aids gram panchayats in undertaking planning at the local level using geospatial technology.

The application serves as a unified geospatial platform to better visualise and monitor the various developmental projects to be carried out across different sectors. It functions as a decision support system to formulate Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDP).


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