Tech tonic for rural healthcare

All pragya kendras to offer telemedicine services soon, CM Das tells IT summit

By A.S.R.P. Mukesh in Ranchi
  • Published 26.02.18
DIGITAL DRIVE: Chief minister Raghubar Das inaugurates the IT conclave in Ranchi on Sunday. (Manob Chowdhary)

Ranchi: Telemedicine services at panchayat-level pragya kendras and BPO jobs for women at such block-level common service centres were the key takeaways from the state's maiden tech summit, Jharkhand IT Conclave 2018, that was held at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in HEC Township here on Sunday.

Chief minister Raghubar Das, addressing a gathering of 5,000, underscored that digital initiatives were among the priorities of his administration to bridge the geographical divide, ensure effective governance and create opportunities for both jobseekers and headhunters in the form of a start-up ecosystem.

"Pragya kendras are run in almost every panchayat (roughly 4,500) today. We plan to start telemedicine services through these soon. Besides free medicines round the year, free consultation by a doctor will be offered eight times annually," he announced.

The telemedicine project, if it sees the light of day soon as promised, can go a long way in bridging the gap in rural healthcare that suffers owing to lack of infrastructure, manpower and other resources.

Each of the state's 260 blocks will boast a 10-seater BPO for women, Das added while also launching BPOs with 2,500-plus seats at town level, paving the way for seven companies to set up shops in Ranchi, Dhanbad and Deoghar, among others.

State IT director U.P. Sah told this correspondent that they had already signed MoUs with three companies for this mission since the state came up with its BPO policy in 2016 in sync with the India BPO Promotion Scheme sponsored by the Centre to boost the sector.

"We have given letter of authorisation to Concentrix, Nimbus and Route Mobile. In another six months, four more IT companies will come to the state. The BPOs will create 7,500 jobs in three shifts," Sah said.

The summit further introduced a basic computer course for 20,000 candidates, launched 10,000 verified Facebook pages for village-level entrepreneurs, distributed job letters to 5,000 youths and handed out appreciation letters to 11 start-ups conceived within the state.

The chief minister, who happens be the state IT minister, said by March 2019, all panchayats would be provided high speed Internet through optical fibres while work on Wi-Fi link in Left-wing extremism-hit areas is already underway," Das said, urging the youth to come up with new ideas for building a new Jharkhand by 2022. "A dedicated start-up fund of Rs 250 crore has been set up for this mission. The aim is to have 1,500 start-ups," he added.

Among the host of dignitaries present at the summit were Hatia MLA Naveen Jaiswal, Ranchi mayor Asha Lakra, state chief secretary Rajbala Verma, development commissioner Amit Khare, secretary to CM Sunil Barnwal, state IT secretary Satendra Singh, founder and CEO of The India Network Rahul Narvekar, DG of software technology parks of India Omkar Rai, Nitin Saluja of Facebook India and, chairman of Start-up India Foundation Anil Chikara.

Saluja said Jharkhand had become the first state to launch so many Facebook pages on a single day. "Chhattisgarh held a record of 7,500 pages, but that was surpassed today," he said.

Chikara said a decade ago, when he began his start-up, it was an alien term for all, including banks. "Today, things have changed. Earlier, start-ups were copycats. Nowadays, they are inspired by local problems. That is a good sign. It is the right time to do something on your own," he added.

The CEO of pragya kendras D.K. Tyagi said the common service centres were the most successful tool of taking government schemes to the grassroots.