online shopping of essentials: Govt starts desi version of Flipkart and Amazon e-retail chain for rural India

NEW DELHI: It’s the desi, rural version of Flipkart and Amazon, and is promoted by the government. Concerned over the severe restrictions on mobility and lack of adequate supplies in times of Covid-19, the government has facilitated the creation of a village-level online retail chain, planning massive supplies of essentials through fast-expanding outlets that are taking orders online and offline, and carrying out home deliveries.

The ambitious plan is being led by the Common Service Centres, the rural digital outreach vehicle of the government that reaches over 60 crore people through its nearly 3.8 lakh outlets.

The outlets are set up and run by private individuals but under the aegis of the ministry of electronics and IT. The CSCs have been tasked with engaging in sale and supply of essential commodities like vegetables, milk, pulses, fruits and other products, CSC CEO Dinesh Tyagi told TOI.

Customers can go online and order supplies through a specially curated app that has been provided to village-level entrepreneurs (VLEs) or those given the charge of retail and other CSC activities. The VLEs, who also take offline orders, then make arrangements to transport the goods within a period of a few hours to a day at most.

“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 centres ,” Tyagi said.

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