The new Government channel named Digishala (Teaching about the digital world) will educate the masses on various digital payment modes so as to draw Indians away from cash transactions.
The channel was launched as part of the ‘Digidhan’ campaign which aims to spread awareness about digital transactions. In addition, the government has announced incentives to push the use of plastic money at petrol pumps and other places.
A leading private direct to home (DTH) TV channel service provider, Dish TV, has already placed the channel in its bouquet even though it is not mandatory for private cable operators to do so. Digishala is a free-to-air channel that aims to introduce the use of cashless, paperless and faceless digital payment transactions to rural and semi-urban people across various villages and small towns.
The Modi government has come under severe attack from the opposition parties over its demonetization drive. Long serpentine queues of people outside banks and ATMs to withdraw cash due to shortage of new currency notes have provided ample ammunition to the opposition parties. The government's move is being described as reckless and anti-poor.
"This is an absurd, thoughtless move, and no one in the world has a good word for it. It has broken the back of poor people. Not even a national calamity would have caused so much suffering. To expect India going from the current three per cent cashless to 100 percent is outlandish," said P. Chidambaram, a former finance and home minister during the previous Congress regime.
Meanwhile, the Modi government's frequent change of rules on cash withdrawal and deposits has come under intense criticism. "Modiji, you have made the economy ‘cashless’ as people don’t have cash now. The whole world is crying," quipped Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Party Vice-President.
While India has seen decent growth in digital payment systems with both bank and credit/debit card transactions rising since 2011, it will still take years before technology can penetrate every nook and corner of the country.