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Govt launches e-retail chain for rural India

The government has launched a village-level online retail chain to facilitate the supply of essentials through outlets that are taking orders online and offline and carrying out home deliveries. 

Under the initiative, the government’s digital Seva portal Common Service Centers Scheme (CSCs), which reaches over 60 crore people through its around 3.8 lakh outlets, is leading the effort and private individuals under the guidance of the ministry of electronics and IT will run the outlets. 

“These are like Amazon and Flipkart, but for the rural folk. We started with the initiative about three weeks ago and have already onboarded about 2,000 CSC centers that are catering to nearly 12,000 villages,” a TOI report quoted CSC CEO Dinesh Tyagi as saying.

While the customers order supplies online through an app provided to village-level entrepreneurs (VLEs), the VLEs can also take offline orders and will ensure delivery of the goods within a period of a few hours to at most a day. 

This development is an effort by the government to strengthen the supply chain beyond cities during the COVID-19 outbreak as e-commerce giants are not able to help with the needs of the rural sections of the country given the many last-mile restrictions and challenges. 

Early this month, CSCs along with the Assam State Disaster Management Authority had also launched an initiative called ‘e-Help’ which is providing essential services like banking, counseling, and telemedicine, and also delivering essential commodities to villages across Assam amidst the lockdown.

Recently, the Confederation of Indian Traders or CAIT had also teamed up with the government’s Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade to soon launch a national e-commerce portal which will enable local Kirana stores to take orders online and ensure last-mile contactless delivery.

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