When will India's first cashless island go truly cashless?

Sunzu Bachaspatimayum *

Loktak, Thanga and Karang :: 2011
Loktak, Thanga and Karang :: 2011 :: Pix - Sushil Khomdram

If you google the name of a tiny lake island of Manipur called Karang, the results would all point to one thing how Karang is the first cashless island of India. The Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology made this announcement under its Digital India programme in January 2017.

The Quint went for a reality check to the 2.27 sq km island in the middle of Loktak, the largest freshwater lake in northeast India, and found out that cashless transactions still elude Karang.

Karang, a Cashless Island, But Only Technically :

Contrary to the official claim that was made four months ago on 13 January, none of the 16 merchants of the island and the seven boat service providers have swiping machines nor do they use cashless transaction applications like e-wallet, USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) that enable money transaction in 2G mobile phones, UPI (United Payment Interface) and AEPS (Aadhaar Enabled Payment System).

The Quint learned that officials of the district e-governance society of Bishnupur, under the aegis of the Department of Information Technology, government of Manipur, conducted an exhaustive three-day sensitisation programme under DFAA (Digital Finance Inclusion and Access Awareness) from 9 to 11 January. As part of the programme, the e-wallet mobile application SBI Buddy was incentivised among the participants of the programme by offering Rs 10 to those who installed the e-wallet, and additionally pocketing another Rs 10 for effecting the installation of the mobile app on a fellow islander.

With over 400 beneficiaries installing the e-wallet, and the DFAA programme having covered 700 persons, Karang technically fulfills the criteria for being declared cashless under the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).

The MeitY criteria says that a village or island can claim being cashless if any one member of every household in the village is sensitised about cashless transaction, and at least 50% of the villagers use any one of the five cashless transaction applications e-wallet, USSD, UPI, AEPS or POS (Point of Sales) machine.

Cashlessness Eludes the Tiny Island :

Based purely on technicalities, the Gram Panchayat of the island on 13 January declared Karang as the first cashless island of India, with the Deputy Commissioner of Bishnupur and Additional Director of the department of IT of the government of Manipur affirming the claim by signing as witnesses, among other functionaries.

Four months after earning the distinction, Karang, unfortunately, is nowhere near being an island that conducts most of its business cashlessly. The infrastructure for actualising such transactions is simply not in place.

Oinam Satyabati Devi, a member of the Thanga-Karang Part-1 Gram Panchayat, who incidentally is one of the functionaries who signed the Karang declaration, admitted that the island, which has a population of 1,859, is yet to become 100 percent cashless.

For this sorry state of affairs, the elected representative hints that the IT department may have lost interest in the island in carrying out the much-needed hand-holding exercise even before the incubation period is done.

The department of IT is delaying the provision of the basic infrastructures needed for our island to become truly cashless. For instance, we have demanded 25 POS machines or swiping machines, but these are yet to be given. We've also applied for three Common Service Centres (CsCs) and even these are yet to materialised. I can't grasp why the department is delaying the process after successfully generating the hype about going cashless Oinam Satyabati Devi, Gram Panchayat Member

'Islanders Not Committed to Making Cashlessness a Reality' :

Dillip, a boat service provider who is one of 400 beneficiaries of the SBI Buddy e-wallet, expressed his disgust at the way things are, especially considering the fact that Karang's achievements have been widely reported by the media.

"The cashless declaration is turning out to be only for namesake. The government has neither provided POS machines nor set up CsCs in the island. It's shameful. " Prasant Oinam, an official of the district e-governance society of Bishnupur, who played an instrumental role in Karang's achievement, lamented the delay in transforming Karang into a 100 percent cashless island, but he remains mute on why his parent IT department is seen as changing its stance after registering the significant national achievement.

He is, however, quick to reveal that the delays in providing the POS machines and setting up the CsCs are due to the gaps in the islanders' capabilities to fulfil the mandatory requirements for such a provision.

Although most Karang families opt for a cashless transaction, they are not committed enough to translate it into a reality. For example, for a bank to provide a POS machine, the beneficiary should open a current account with a minimum balance of Rs 10,000. Even after this hurdle was done away with, after much persuasion by the department, the merchants and the boat service providers have yet to submit the mandatory documents like Aadhaar card, Pan card, cancelled cheque and a photocopy of their account's passbook Prasant Oinam

On digging deeper into the matter, islanders alleged that while all of the 297 households in the island have Jan Dhan bank accounts with UBI under the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana, the bank-assigned business correspondents have not provided their chequebooks, passbooks, nor their RuPay cards unless they are paid Rs 100 Rs 200.

The story of Karang island is typical of a society in which the state is anxious to stake claims of achievement and a public keen is to enjoy the fruits of development, but is beset with a system crippled by rampant corruption.

One hopes that the gaps in realising Karang's cashless dreams can be plugged with the same enthusiasm as showed in the run-up to making the claim.

* Sunzu Bachaspatimayum wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on May 17, 2017.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Krishna Janma @ISKCON :: Gallery
  • Natural Body Building #4 :: Gallery
  • The struggle so far...
  • Shadowy Lies :: Poem
  • Time for Modi to release all jailed militant..
  • Students, agitation & symptomatic treatment
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • A Political Messiah Has Come to Nagaland
  • Nungbi Khullen, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • Protest in Kangpokpi District :: Gallery
  • Cirrhosis: Basics & laboratory diagnosis
  • Impact of television in rural development
  • The Echoing Hills :: Poem
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • Nagaland CM respond to Dr. SL's bureau
  • Unauthorized CEC meeting
  • Student leaders detained for mobilizing ILPS
  • Earning our keeps
  • Meira Rally on Patriots' Day #2 :: Gallery
  • ... All The Flowers Gone? #2 :: Gallery
  • Shri Shri Govindaji Temple #1 :: 360 ° View
  • My Japanlan memoir after 4 score yrs
  • Traffic jam and 13th August
  • Manipur District Demand :: Articles / Photos
  • The Law is Mightier Than The Pen
  • Let the law decide
  • insurance scheme for scribes
  • Absurd 1 Village, 1 Denomination decree
  • Singcha Wuya Won (flower) #3:: Gallery
  • Sunday Cup Football @Lamshang :: Gallery
  • Gurmayum Robert wins gold at World Event
  • Loktak Project & corporate unaccountability
  • Supremacy Of The Party :: NPF
  • Binding the wound: The district row
  • Admission Notice - AiTC, Imphal
  • 'Sexuality & Internet' at Digital Summit
  • Zeliang welcomed support from NPF Minority
  • NSU site and undue communal overtones
  • Tripartite Talk: GOI/GOM/UNC :: Gallery
  • Governor's Cup Fencing :: Gallery
  • 13 Aug @Kangla & BT Park :: Gallery
  • Bruce Dickinson: "son-rise" of Iron Maiden
  • Biren should learn from Mamata Banerjee
  • The globe is in your fist
  • AR I-Day festivities with Myanmar army
  • AR celebrates 71st Independence day
  • Unconstitutionality of TR Government
  • Stadium upgrade for I-League
  • NE film festival in Delhi from Aug 18
  • Myanmarese advised to follow traffic rules
  • The human torch and AFSPA
  • The real taste of Independence Day
  • Mission XI football @ Andro :: Gallery
  • Krishna Janma @ Mahabali :: Gallery
  • Blood Donation for 13 August:: Gallery
  • Mahabali Temple , Imphal :: 360 ° View
  • Graphic & plastic arts of Zeliangrong #3
  • Silence :: Poem
  • Sport Univ: Promises kept but corruption?
  • Job requirements at SKY Hospital
  • Jobs @ National Informatics Centre (NIC)
  • I-Day Celebration at BJP State Office
  • Celebrations amid militant boycott call
  • 3 Manipur terrorists arrested in Delhi
  • NSCN/GPRN condemns raid
  • NSCN-K signing hinges on cross-border..
  • Meira Rally on Patriots' Day #1 :: Gallery
  • Patriots' Day @ Kolkata :: Gallery
  • 26th NAMA Convention Report, Houston, TX
  • Forming Plurals in Manipuri Language
  • Mammography and frequently ask question
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • NPF Office Bearers reaffirm support
  • DAN Co-ordination Meeting Resolutions
  • India and China: From rivalry to enmity
  • For better tomorrows
  • Security forces round up NSCN (IM) cadres
  • 13 August @Hicham Yaichampat :: Gallery
  • Achingliu, Haokhulan, Hiyaichenbi: eMing
  • Patriots' Day @ Hojai, Assam :: Gallery
  • Protest: malpractices of MPSC :: Gallery
  • On MPSC scam & people defending it
  • 126th Patriots' Day observed in Delhi
  • 126th Patriots' Day observed in Hojai
  • Lajong U-12 to represent India in BRICS
  • Learn something from 2015 experience
  • The district creation headache
  • State Thang-Ta Competition :: Gallery
  • Search operation [Aug 12] :: Gallery
  • 13 August Patriots' Day : Read all about it
  • Thangal General : The Patriot
  • Proxy examination and Wrong politics
  • Women should not live in fear ....
  • Summer Thoughts :: Poem
  • NPF Youth serve Ultimatum to Rio
  • A slap on the face of Christianity
  • U-Morok @ Shirarakhong :: Gallery
  • Dangers of 'Trial by Media' & the MPSC
  • Is Culture of insensible activism taking root
  • Meiteilon never been Tibeto-Burman
  • Mechanized threshing of foodgrains #2
  • ZSUB Foundation Day, Fresher's Meeting
  • Sadar Hills District Demand: News Timeline
  • Breaking the barrier
  • National Handloom Day @ GHY :: Gallery
  • Chirom Indira shine in hearts of NE Weavers
  • Investigate killings as ordered by SC
  • MSTC CMD met with CM of Manipur
  • Conspiracy behind the toppling game
  • Armed groups attack..a human right abuse
  • Drawing Competition at Khengjoi, Chandel
  • Save the indigenous people cry : Valley..
  • A matter need to ponder
  • Earthen wares of Ningthemcha Karong
  • Indigenous Wrestling @ SPT #2 :: Gallery
  • Awunching Biodiversity Park #3 :: 360 ° View
  • XXVIII State Thang-Ta Competition 2017
  • India's HLPF review of SDGs & Manipur
  • Robotics as career options
  • International Day of Indigenous People
  • Rejoinder Issued By Shurhozelie Liezietsu
  • Hard facts of political crisis (Nagaland)
  • Viewing through one's community
  • Darkening shadows of doubt
  • Ziumi village, Maram Landscape:: Gallery
  • Inter School Handball Tournament :: Gallery
  • The Proud Bamboo Tree :: Folk Tale
  • Populated Attitudes :: Poem
  • Marijuana, Mahadev and Maneka
  • Notice for MSc Biochemistry Admissions
  • Assam edition of NE India Fashion Week
  • Being different from Cong Govt
  • Cracking down on fraudulence
  • Hanuba-hanubi paan thaba :: Funga Wari
  • ... All The Flowers Gone? #1 :: Gallery
  • Need to bust racket running inside MPSC
  • Will PM Modi betray Assam in No ST, no rest
  • State Level Essay Writing Competition
  • RIST Condolence Function at MU
  • When we stumble and fall
  • Customer Care Executive @ basicP, Imphal
  • Petition for Disqualification of 10 MLAs
  • Cracking down on fraudulence
  • Rape of small newspaper
  • Landscape of Ukhrul District #2:: Gallery
  • Jhulon Nupi Pala Phamsak :: Gallery
  • TR is CM by technicality sans Legality
  • One Day in Heaven :: Poem
  • Libraries Vs Google: Are we heading there
  • ..for electrical distribution rearrangement
  • Lessons to learn from CCpur: public hygiene
  • Angaoba Film Scenes #1 :: eRang
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • The dawn of cricket in Manipur
  • Lumbini Leikolda Shat-houba Leirang
  • Workshop on MU Reservations held
  • Job posting at C-DAC Silchar
  • Lafikul murdered to stir communal tension
  • Wayward rules of law
  • Indigenous Wrestling @ SPT #1 :: Gallery
  • Tourist Watch Tower, Khongjom #4 :: 360 °
  • Admission for B.Ed at Manipur University
  • The Evening Blues :: Poem
  • A village called Nbena :: Book Review
  • Employment Generating Hands on Skill
  • Unnatural death of Sainik School student
  • Condemns killing of KNO/KNLF leader
  • AR conducts Pre Recruitment Training
  • Makeshift sheds at Lamphel
  • For a clean future generation
  • Mr Maipak Body Building #2:: Gallery
  • CM referring to ST Comm is ultra vires
  • VIP culture out, VVVIP culture in
  • Be an unchained raindrop :: Poem
  • Holistic education : Trends & challenges
  • Jobs - Going Officers Pamjei
  • Providing Various Health Benefit Plans
  • larification to Tokheho's recollections
  • SoO groups in the news for wrong reasons
  • Confession
  • Nongbrang, bank of Thoubal River :: Gallery
  • Pukpha Fest @Tamenglong :: Gallery
  • Binalakshmi Nepram at UN, NYC : 1 Aug
  • Free Computer Course by KEN @ Imphal
  • Where is the justice in mob justice
  • Ishu : Feature Film in Assamese :: Review
  • Flood: State efforts are too little too late
  • Crisis within NPF unfortunate : KG Kenye
  • decision-making body of NPF resolve: 2 Aug
  • NPF Legislature Party Statement : 2 Aug
  • ..honoring martyrs by raising Tri-colour
  • ..strong Opposition: Cong MLA striving hard
  • Battle Of Khongjom & Manipuris in 1891 #3
  • Khongjom War Memorial #2 :: 360 ° View
  • Oops! They've Done It Again!
  • Photography: Career through lenses
  • Mega Marathon Manipur : Download Form
  • Chemical Ecology: Info for college/Univs
  • Jobs - Nursing Aides in Singapore
  • NPF responds to MLAs' demand
  • Overlooking one's own Cabinet decision
  • Potential of our state
  • Drinking joints in a dry State : Liquor tragedy
  • Landscape of Manipur #7: Wallpaper
  • Singcha Wayawon opening #2:: Gallery
  • Manung Kangjeibung, Kangla :: 360 ° View
  • 1st Mao Market day @Nagamapal:: Gallery
  • ILP : Students protest [27 July] :: Gallery
  • Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon #2 :: Gallery
  • Ethoi Oinam (Actress) #2 :: eRang Photos
  • Echum Lairembi, Khurkhul #3:: Gallery
  • Tapta :: Funga Wari
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #3 :: Gallery
  • Lai Khong Chingba @Thangjing #4
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #5 : Ooba