• Mandya, a thriving agricultural town till the late 1980s, is set to change with the state government along with the Reserve Bank of India and IT services firm Ventura Infotech digitising the entire pension records and issuing smart cards to pensioners to plug the leakage.         

  • It is perhaps one of the biggest financial inclusion projects where technology can come to aid of thousands of old and poor farmers, widows and other rural pensioners. But that's only the first part.      

  • For the last-mile authentication and financial transaction, the state government has tied up with a Karnataka-based private bank. A bank correspondent will now be sent to each pensioner's house with a card-reader where the pensioner would swipe his smart card and give his thumb impression. 

  • Once the bank receives the data at its central server, the amount would be credited to the pensioner's bank account. The system is expected to fight ground-level corruption by cross-checking the pensioner's identity against multiple database, making it difficult for any single agency or person to log false information. 

  • The initial phase has already begun at Mandya Taluk where 52,000 beneficiaries have been photographed for smart card delivery and bank account opening. Physical verification of all pensioners eligible for benefits will now begin in the rest of the district.       
  • Once successful, the project will be carried out in Bellary, Gulbarga and Chamrajnagar. The e-governance project is not the only technology pilot happening in Mandya. Last February, IBMResearch, the R&D division of IBM, started pilot projects for one of its initiatives called the Spoken Web in Mandya. 

  • According to IBM, the project aims to connect "billions of people without sufficient literacy, without regular access to a computer" with a voice-driven Internet that can be accessed through mobile phones.