Lauding Kerala’s pioneering efforts in achieving total e-literacy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said reducing the digital divide was vital to improve the lives of common people across the country.

Launching the total E-literacy Programme of Kerala Government being implemented under P.N. Panicker Vikas Vigyan Kendra in Thiruvananthapuram, Dr. Singh said this was an initiative which could be taken across the country.

“In fact, we need such initiatives to be taken across the length and breadth of the country. This will help us in realising the full potential of ICT -- in decentralised governance, in better delivery of services, particularly education, in financial inclusion and e-commerce,” Dr. Singh said.

Recalling the services of late P.N. Panicker in universal literacy and library movement in Kerala, Dr. Singh said the e-literacy programme being launched in tune with the earlier movements would also contribute to quickening the pace of Kerala’s social and economic development and political empowerment of people.

Dr. Singh said the programme would also help in building social capital by enabling success stories of community efforts to be shared easily.

He said the “Granthasala Sanghom” (library movement) began by Panicker with 47 libraries in 1945 and which grew into a network of more than 6000 libraries in due course was the corner stone of the Kerala model of development.

“Many social historians consider the library movement to be the corner stone of the so-called Kerala model of development,” he said.

A Gandhian, Panicker also worked to foster social amity and harmony devoting his last years to “Friendship Village Movement”, the Prime Minister said.

At the outset, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the programme was aimed at achieving total e-literacy in the state in 33 months, marching from total literacy to complete-literacy.

In its first phase, the campaign would cover 100 panchayats across the state.

Kerala Governor Nikhil Kumar, Union Minister for HRD Shashi Tharoor, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kuiren, state ministers P.K. Abdu Rabb and Shibu Baby John and vice-chairman of P.N. Panicker Vigyan Vikas Kendra N. Balagopal were present on the occasion.

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