DIGITAL EXCLUSION | Poor digital literacy costs 500 Baramulla women of Rs 50,000 ‘marriage assistance’

DTP operators provide their own emails instead of aspiring women, hindering communication with Social Welfare Department
DIGITAL EXCLUSION | Poor digital literacy costs 500 Baramulla women of Rs 50,000 ‘marriage assistance’
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Baramulla, Jan 13: Around 500 women across north Kashmir’s Baramulla district failed to avail benefits under the central-sponsored welfare-oriented ‘Marriage Assistance’ scheme due to poor digital literacy.

Under the Marriage Assistance Scheme, a woman belonging to either Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) or PHH (Priority Households) category need to register herself online with the department of Social Welfare 30 days prior to her marriage.

The eligible beneficiaries get Rs 50,000 assistance for completing marriage formalities.

As per the checklist of the marriage assistance scheme, a beneficiary has to register herself on the Social Welfare Department’s portal.

Besides, uploading Aadhaar card, bank account number, mobile number and other details online on the website, a password and username in the name of beneficiary is generated so that in case of any communication from the department, the beneficiary directly receives a commutation through mail.

However, most of the beneficiaries in the wake of little digital knowledge approach roadside private data entry operators for their registration.

These private data entry operators after uploading beneficiaries' documents provide their own email addresses and phone numbers besides generating password and username in their own name instead of the aspiring candidates name.

With the result any commutation from the department does not reach to the beneficiary and instead reaches to the DTP operator who does not bother to inform the beneficiary.

“Sometime the details of the beneficiary are not sufficient or have some mistakes. In that case, the department communicates on the email address or even on the phone, however, since in most of the cases the communication address does not belong to the beneficiary, the beneficiary remains uninformed,” said Nissar Ahmad Wani, District Social Welfare Officer Baramulla.

Tashook Ahmad, a carpenter by profession, while revealing his ordeal said that a few months back his daughter, ahead of her marriage, applied for the marriage assistance.

He said she approached a roadside private DTP centre for the registration.

“We were optimistic that our form has been approved,” said Tashook Ahmad. “However, we did not receive the Rs 50,000 marriage assistance amount till date. After approaching the officials of the Social Welfare Department, we were told that there had been certain mistakes while submitting the form. The department, despite communicating through email, did not receive any response which caused cancellation of the applicant's form,” Ahmad said.

Running from pillar to post, Ahmad is unable to find a way out.

“I have been visiting the Social Welfare Department for the past one month. However, they express their helplessness. The private DTP centre has ruined me. Had I been tech-savvy, the loss could have been avoided,” dejected Ahmad said.

Earlier, the aspirants of the scheme used to submit marriage assistance form off-line.

However, the authorities issued fresh guidelines directing all the beneficiaries to submit their application form online from April this year.

In Baramulla district, 2174 applicants had submitted their application form for marriage assistance.

However, around 500 such beneficiary forms were rejected owing to one or the other mistakes committed while submitting the online form.

“All such candidates were informed through email or other mode of communication, however, no measures have been taken for such people to rectify their mistakes. It seems the candidates have not received communication which can happen only if they don’t access their mentioned emails themselves,” said an official of the Social Welfare Department.

Social Welfare Department Officer Baramulla, Nissar Ahmad termed such occurrence unfortunate.

He said that the scheme had been designed in such a way that the beneficiary would have direct access to her account.

Ahmad said that if the beneficiary generates an account and password on her own or with the help of some computer-knowing person, she would have direct access to her account and could remain updated with a touch of finger.

“The beneficiary needs to submit a form online herself or with the help of some person preferably from her family or neighbourhood so that they can access email themselves from time to time and get updated with the fresh guidelines,” he said.

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