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Jharkhand being one of India’s Poorest States aspires to be the country’s first Cashless State

The state government has decided that VAT would not be charged on smartphones priced at Rs 5,000

A man holding credit card (representational Image), Pixabay

Ranchi, December 13, 2016: It’s one of India’s poorest states and yet aspires to be first in the country to go cashless — if one is to believe Chief Minister Raghubar Das.

However, given the state of power, internet connectivity and other related infrastructure in the state, the idea looks more like a pipedream than anything that can become a reality any time soon.

The state is also known for its difficult geographical terrain, with the majority of its 3.3 crore (2011 census) population living in rural areas — and that too below the poverty line.

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None of the telecom service providers in the state provide internet speeds of 2 MBPS despite the claims of providing speeds up to 5 MBPS. Be it private companies like Airtel, Vodafone or Aircel, or the state-run BSNL, they have all failed to provide high-speed internet services so far.

While Airtel and Reliance Jio have launched their 4G operations in the state, one wonders what miracles these services would provide given that 2G and 3G speeds are disgustingly slow, .

The number of mobile phone users in the state stands at 1.59 crore, but they suffer for want of good connectivity. Many of these users live in rural pockets and villages where the access to internet is negligible, to say the least.

To top it all, as of now only 1,427 panchayts in the state have access to broadband, while 4,459 panchayats do not have the broadband or internet facility — something that is almost a precondition for successful accomplishment of the Digital India initiative.

Lack of adequate power supply is also cited as one of the prime reasons for hindrance in internet connectivity in the state.

Since Independence in 1947 — Jharkhand was a part of Bihar and was hived off as a separate staste only in 2000 — power has reached only 38 lakh homes in the state and there are still 30 lakh unlit homes.

Coming to banks, of the 2,900 branches in the state, nearly 70 per cent are located in rural areas or smaller towns. They, of course, have core banking facilities but unavailability of internet, WiFi or broadband connectivity renders them as good as not being there at all.

An official of a leading state-run bank pointed out that connectivity was their biggest problem, because of which at least 30 per cent of the branches remain paralysed.

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“The dream of cashless Jharkhand would only be realised if internet connectivity improves in the state. On several occasions, this issue has been put before the Chief Minister,” a bank official told IANS.

Even in the state capital Ranchi, one can frequently find a ‘link fail’ board hung outside ATMs and bank counters, mocking at customers.

Another factor is that most of the app-based payment services work on Android-supported smartphones that are available with, and used only by, the youth in cities and urban pockets, but many beyond urban areas can’t afford such devices.

So, how will the state government first make Android-based phones available to the people and then train them in their use remains a question without a satisfactory answer.

With Jharkhand grossly unprepared to embrace the cashless concept, let alone becoming the first cashless state, the Chief Minister and his team should have first worked towards putting in place the basic requirements for this.

But, surprisngly though, Chief Minister Das has urged the people to contribute to make Jharkhand a cashless state by December-end. He also launched the “Cashless Jharkhand” campaign from the state capital, saying: “Small steps lead to big goals.”

He urged the people to make more and more use of IT, which would help curb corruption. A cashless economy would also help tackle terrorism and extremism, Das said.

The Chief Minister said: “In the entire world, digital transactions takes place and the people of Jharkhand should contribute to make it a cashless state.”

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He also urged every youth to train at least five people in carrying out cashless transactions.

In another key decision, the state government has decided that VAT would not be charged on smartphones priced at Rs 5,000 and also on debit/credit card swipes until March 31, 2017.

The VAT exemption of 5.5 per cent on smartphones and 14.5 per cent on PoS machines has been introduced to promote cashless transactions in the state. (IANS)

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‘Black’ Banned in Jharkhand’s Palamau Ahead of Modi Visit

He will also lay the foundation stone of a pipeline to meet the needs of drinking water and irrigation in Palamu and Garhwa districts at a cost of Rs 1,138 crore

Mahathir, who governed Malaysia for more than two decades, became, at the age of 92,
Congress cheating farmers in name of loan waivers. Wikimedia

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Palamau in Jharkhand on January 5, one colour will not be permitted in any form: black.

The Palamau administration issued the ban order after leaders of the 80,000 para teachers on strike since November 15 demanding regularization of their service vowed to show black flags to Modi in Palamau.

“The government staff or common people cannot wear black socks,” an official said. “The ban also covers clothes, bags, shoes, purses and caps.”

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (Wikimedia Commons)

Modi is scheduled to arrive in Palamau at 10.30 a.m. to spend an hour in the district.

The Prime Minister will lay the foundation stone of the Mandal dam irrigation project, which was pending since 1972. The dam will be built at a cost of Rs 2,500 crore.

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He will also lay the foundation stone of a pipeline to meet the needs of drinking water and irrigation in Palamu and Garhwa districts at a cost of Rs 1,138 crore. (IANS)