Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu recently announced that the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) will soon start selling hand-made products made by rural women on its e-portal. The minister said that railways are set to engage people to help communities evolve and prosper together. This initiative follows the railways’ attempt to collaborate with NGOs and public communities for a cleanliness drive. The latest project involves collaborating with local artists and rural women self-help groups.

Products will range from traditional food to handicrafts, shawls and other ethnic wear. 

Women across the country have been approached to be a part of this new program.

Also Read: Woman entrepreneur who took BPOs to rural India

With giants like Amazon and Flipkart to compete with, in terms of e-commerce, IRCTC will soon become just as big a platform which will in fact help women become empowered, self-sustained, and independent.

Last year’s Budget saw an allocation of Rs 50 crore to the railways, which included the idea of e-commercialization of local products. E-catering services, renovation of 400 stations and also the introduction of super-bullet trains was also included in the budget.

Also Read: Reducing the digital gender gap: Internet Saathi

On an average, 4.15 lakh tickets are booked daily. One in five online users in India reportedly visits the site of IRCTC, which sees more than 120 lakh unique visitors each month. IRCTC earnings are more than the total value of Flipkart and Amazon.

Being one of the largest online portals in India, this initiative is sure to make a difference to the rural women who will be a part of it.

Apart from this, the minister also stressed upon a strategy which will make railways completely independent of diesel. According to the Railways’ Mission 41K, it will electrify 24,000 km of rail tracks over five years. This integrated energy management plan aims to save the national carrier Rs 41,000 crore rupees over the next decade, as LiveMint reports.