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When I Fly the Drone, People Will Look Up to Me: Drone Didi Karanveer Kaur

As per Kaur, if a drone didi meets the target of covering 4,000 acres of land for the next five years, she will be entitled to keep the device for the rest of her life.

Yukta Mudgal
The NaMo Drone Didi Scheme was launched by the Government of India last year, aiming to train 15,000 women | Courtesy: Karanveer Kaur, Canva
The NaMo Drone Didi Scheme was launched by the Government of India last year, aiming to train 15,000 women | Courtesy: Karanveer Kaur, Canva
Till December 2023, Karanveer Kaur thought farming was a male-centric domain, and women were just a part of it. Soon, she was offered an opportunity to become a drone pilot. As a post-graduate in Physics, she could easily clear the tests put up by the government under the ‘NaMo Drone Didi Scheme’.
 
Currently, Kaur resides in the Sangrur district of Punjab and helps her in-laws on the farms. Her husband, who is a part of a Farmer Producer Company told her about the Drone Didi Scheme. She then, with his support, went to Manesar, Gurgaon for a 15-day training in driving drones.

Journey and the Process

Kaur was among the five women in her Self-Help Group (SHG) who were selected for drone training by the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO). She said, “If I had not received the support of my husband and in-laws, I would not have succeeded in the training.”
 
As part of the training, an applicant must clear three stages of tests. Firstly, she needs to pass a written test, followed by a computer test, and then finally an on-field test which evaluates drone-driving skills. Kaur said before sitting for the exam, several classes are held to make the candidates understand the basics of drone driving. Women who have passed class 10 are eligible for the test. After clearing it, one must pay Rs 16,000. Thereafter, they can use the drone and the e-vehicle for free. 

Key Challenges

As a member of an SHG, Kaur is aware of the challenges faced by women who apply for such schemes. Kaur said traveling to Manesar from Sangrur was a hurdle for women with children. “We raised this concern with the seniors there, who informed us that the plan is to soon expand the drone centers across India.” Expressing the hesitancy that many women in the villages feel, Kaur said that in the future when she flies a drone in her field, other women will get inspired to learn the technical skill.

Income Via Drone Driving

The scheme’s motive is to make women in rural areas, financially independent. Kaur said the government gives a target of covering 4,000 acres of land every year, to the women drone pilots. This way, using drones in other people’s fields, she can earn a good amount every month. Moreover, as per the norms, if a drone didi meet the target for the next five years, she is entitled to keep the device for the rest of her life. Kaur thinks, this is a self-run business and would empower women in rural areas in ways they cannot imagine.

Drone for a Sustainable Future

Kaur’s family owns 6 acres of land and it takes a lot of time, water, and chemicals to maintain it. “With a drone, only 10 liters of water and a liter of nano-urea is required, which saves us a lot of water and pesticides. Moreover, I would have to control the device with a remote that covers a vast land in 5-10 minutes”. This will help in reducing the cost and is a wonderful way to save the environment, as per Kaur. She received the drone training in December and is now waiting to receive her drone and e-vehicle soon.
 
The NaMo Drone Didi Scheme was launched by the Government of India last year, aiming to train 15,000 women who are a part of the self-help groups in rural areas to operate drones. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this scheme on Independence Day, under the flagship Lakhpati Didis, to empower women in rural areas, and boost the rural economy.
 
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