Experts from WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment, Globalizing and Organizing), an international network organisation, are of the opinion that “The street vending community feeds our cities". It is a known fact that the street vending community is not just simply meant to give tourists from other countries a taste of Indian street food. In addition to serving that purpose, the street vending brethren are also essential for maintaining a sense of food security for millions of Indians. In the case of India, it is believed that nearly 50% of all of the street vendors of India are selling cooked food items that are deemed as affordable by many. On top of that, studies suggest that approximately 30% of the street vending activities is made up of transactions involving the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables, thus ensuring that the masses have access to fresh groceries.
Now that you have understood how important is the street vending community of India to the country itself, it will become easier for you to understand what drove the government of India to launch a programme designed to empower the members of the street vending community in more ways than one during the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic. Read on to know more about the measures that the government has taken thus far for the vendors in question as a part of the PM SVANidhi Scheme.
The scheme was introduced and put into effect to ensure the empowerment of the perishable service providers that are a part of the Indian street vending community. One of the ways of doing it, as per the government, is by advancing loans to the members of the street vending community so that they can meet their working capital requirements. Additionally, the government plans on performing the function of a catalyst for the holistic development of the Indian street vending community, the prompt resuming of their business practices and their overall upliftment.
On the topic of the loans, they are given to the people who practice street vending so that they can take care of the expenses that the businessmen incur on a daily basis. These loans can be availed without offering anything as collateral and the amount can go up to ₹20,000. The government of India plans on disbursing such loans to a total of 5 million members of the Indian street vending community so that they can establish, and in some cases, re-establish themselves.
Let us now take a look at the ways in which the government has been charting a digital trajectory for the street vending community through the scheme in question. You will find a list of the approved mediums of making and accepting digital payments platforms, which will help them earn a handful of incentives, below.
RuPay Debit Cards
UPI QR codes belonging to the aforementioned payment aggregators.
Additionally, the government of India has been charting a digital trajectory for the street vendors of the country with the help of a mobile application. The same has only been developed for Android devices. The application in question has been developed so that the beneficiaries of the PM SVANidhi scheme can have access to all of the services that they can avail of under the same.
The Indian government made a mobile application under the name of the initiative on the Google Play Store for the street vendors back in July of 2020, the year of the coronavirus pandemic, in order to make the services of the PM Street Vendor Yojana accessible to the street vendors. The government strongly advises that every PM SVANidhi Yojana beneficiary must have the app installed on their devices. The same is only applicable if they can even download the same. This app primarily helps the beneficiaries track the status of services that they have availed of from the officials at the helm of the initiative. The app also helps the street vendors take advantage of the monetary incentives that they are entitled to, provided they use the aforementioned apps for the purpose of making and receiving digital payments to and from concerned parties.
Aatmanirbhar Bharat's PM SVANidhi program for street vendors simultaneously provides advances for working capital needs and teaches them about digital payments. When the applications meant for processing digital payments which have been mentioned above are used by the members of the Street Vendor Brethren, it creates digital footprints in their name, which then paves the way for a regular flow of credit from formal banking systems, thus giving them an entry pass into the formalised financial system set up for the urban Indian. Over a period of time, this is supposed to enable them to claw back out from the clutches of the moneylenders which charge interest rates that can only be described as astronomical by a person of a sane mind. The component of the interest subsidy that these street vendors can avail, and more importantly, the cash backs and incentives for using digital transactions are designed to motivate the street vendors to use the applications more often, thereby creating a bigger digital signature.
Recent studies have suggested that the incentives that Indian street vendors can avail as a beneficiary of the PM SVANidhi scheme have motivated the unregistered Indian street vendors to register themselves with local bodies. Experts and analysts alike also opine that in the future, the data that the street vendors furnish at the time of getting themselves registered can be later used for the convergence of the PM SVANidhi scheme with several other government programmes which can potentially benefit this particular section of the Indian populace directly.
During the pandemic, it was observed that a large chunk of the target audience has caused an unprecedented amount of demand for QR codes for the purpose of accepting transactions digitally from the parties, customers and clients alike. Hawkers have reportedly been remarkably quick to accept such a wave of change and have even promoted the practice of making digital payments and accepting them through the very same mediums. As and when more members of the Indian street vendor community hop onto the trend, the database of personal information pertaining to them will only expand and subsequently make formal banking services accessible to them.
It is hoped that the aforementioned methods which have been deployed by the government of India in order to establish a digital identity of the Indian street vendors would eventually help their standard of living.
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