Dr Shakeel Ahmad, Minister of State for IT and Communications who hails from a village in Bihar talks about the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) which is the catalyst of the GoI’s e-governance initiative.
Aware of and concerned with the ground realities and basic infrastructure (or lack thereof) at the village level, Dr Ahmad understands that the key for the development of the masses lies in information technology and communications (ICT). That’s why he is trying to drive this development in an accelerated manner through various ICT boosters.
Reaching out to the rural masses has always a problem. The government is now making sincere efforts to provide telecom access in the rural areas. Towards this, about 5.5 lakh villages out of 6 lakh have already been provided with telephone connectivity. The remaining 42,000 villages will be provided with village public telephones (VPT) by November 2007. This data shows the results-oriented approach and the serious efforts of the government to reach out to rural India.
States Dr Ahmad: “The Universal Obligation Fund is also in the planning stage. This will be for the creation of shared infrastructure for mobile services in the rural areas. It will ensure access to mobile networks in rural areas of the country. For providing Internet access, information kiosks have already been planed as common service centres (CSCs) in rural areas to provide Internet connectivity and access to the rest of world. These CSCs will be 100,000 in number.”
About 5.5 lakh villages out of 6 lakh have already been provided with telephone connectivity.
Broadband connectivity to all villages has also been planned. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has requested DOT for the provision of broadband connectivity to all schools and colleges in the country, including those in rural areas.
PC and Internet penetration may remain in assisted mode for some more time.
IT penetration at the back-end of government and business processes will change the Indian scenario in the next three to five years.