in deep existential crisis..

A Journal by Sara

IT Shows in the Agenda of BJP & Congress

 

In the term of 1999-2004, BJP rewrote the conventional portfolio to include a revamped ministry called ‘Ministry of Communications and IT’. NDA’s IT reforms took the IT & ITES sectors on an upward swing and it started realizing its potential. A refreshing journey was on course at almost the final stages of NDA rule which peaked in the succeeding government after 2004.

As we had a well endowed gentleman as Prime Minister in post-2004 rule, we took a cold shower relaxing that finally the academics has met politics and things would only emerge brighter, leaving all speculations to rest. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, as we have witnessed in the last 5 years of despotic rule.

Most of the people I engage with political debate keep undermining my statement saying that how much the Goddess of Knowledge is residing in every UPA minister’s mind, but I beg to differ with the stark contrasting reality of Congress and UPA government.

If UPA is looked upon as a knowledge powerhouse, if it is the most visionary and if it is the one which has invariably best of literates as their advisors, where is a well thought-out election manifesto, a greatest of great vision for its country India? At least a few among the innumerable ideas they have for the prosperity of Indians and to counter the economic recession and to stop the freefall of IT sector. Where are the details of it? Has congress even thought about one? Has Manmohan Singh & Co. even feel the need for it?

By absolute contrast, BJP has a document called IT Vision released by LK Advani which runs to 30 pages and is definitely a set of documented ideas practically feasible in its implementation. On the release of it, LK Advani said “A future NDA Government, if elected to office in the coming parliamentary elections, would give high priority to the realization of this vision, which would help India overcome the current economic crisis; create productive employment opportunities on a large scale; accelerate human development through vastly improved and expanded education and healthcare services; check corruption; and make India’s national security more robust.”

The highlights of the IT Vision document are as follows,

  • Multipurpose National Identity Card (MNIC) with unique Citizen Identification Number (CIN) for every Indian citizen in 3 years; to replace all other identification systems.

§  I could immediately think of the benefits this move would fetch; as one of the foremost issues on national security we face now is the lakhs of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh pouring into India. This would keep a check on it and would help identify most of them. I am also reminded of, a news I read few months back, How a chief-level officer in RAW was dismissed after they found that he is not an Indian but an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh.

§  Next benefit would be the major face lift the government offices would get especially with the first hand information on their desk and also with the disposal of strenuous paper work involved by both bureaucrats and the citizens. Efficient bureaucracy at last seems a little possibility.

§  The benefits are enormous; the cost savings that would make to the Government, the easy handling of Information in terms of Defense and Internal security measures; easy representation of Information for Police and Judiciary; easy handling for the election commission preventing fraud in electoral process, prevention of false interpretation of any information (most of the civil & corporate frauds) and it would be endless.

§  But if all information of yours is integrated, the next ominous question that strikes the mind is the security and efficiency of handling this information. BJP has to come forward with their detailed plan of how they would set to protect the information in this regard and chalk up their tight security plan.

  • 1.2 Crore (12 million) new IT-enabled jobs in rural areas.

§  Though I am unaware how they arrived at this figure, but I firmly say it has the potential, if the government reforms computer-deprived offices of its own and the other subsidies thereby setting up a huge wave of new jobs. As this domestic market is still untapped and is a sleeping giant.

  • 1 crore (10 million) students to get laptop computers at Rs 10,000. Interest-free loan for anyone unable to afford it.

§  This is a strange development unlike the India we know which throws only freebie at people and never cared about the money spent. I would say this is much better opportunity provided where I guess should benefit most of the rural students to a greatest extent.

  • National Digital Highway Development Project to create India’s Internet backbone, and Pradhan Mantri Digital Gram Sadak Yojana for last-mile access even in the remotest of villages.

§  NDA had walked the talk earlier with its famous Golden Quadrilateral project in its last term. The project with its ambition of connecting all the important highways of the country with multi-way lanes, implemented with remarkable success. Hence, it should be a safe bet to reckon that the Internet backbone would get quite a bit realistic.

  • Broadband Internet (2 Mbps) in every town and village, at cable TV prices (less than Rs 200/month).

§  I think it is too ambitious to even think of it, when the internet connection speed of even the major cities has not been ramped up to that level and the prices comparably is still large and not easily affordable.

  • All schools and colleges to have Internet-enabled education.

§  Especially, this needs to be done on a fast lane, when we think of taking our education infrastructure to world class level. It is high time we provide desktops and laptops to the students with internet enabled.

  • 100% financial inclusion through bank accounts, with e-Banking facilities, for all Indian citizens. Direct transfer of welfare funds, preferably to the woman of the house.

§  Even if right actions are initiated towards achieving this goal, if not fully completed, still that would go a long way in restructuring our citizen’s economical identity, and in establishing transparency in bureaucracy. That would see a major shift in strategies of the banks and would be an ideal launch pad for its rural penetration and its customer base.

  • Every BPL family to be given a free smart mobile phone, which can be used by even illiterate users for accessing their bank accounts.

§  This is the continuation of the above point, to provide people with access to the e-Banking through a cheap smart mobile.

  • Number of mobile subscribers to be increased from 40 crore at present to 100 crore in five years. Internet users to equal mobile subscribers. India to equal China in every IT parameter in five years.

§  Telecom is already been proved a huge potential market and it would only improve the connectivity of more people with more and more users laying hand on the device. Internet users in India are usually very small compared to the mobile subscribers and this avenue again provides a great growth opportunity.

  • Video conferencing to be made affordable and universally accessible.

§  Thorough implementation of IT reforms across India and the excellent infrastructure if built for IT & Internet would make all these easily follow suit.

§  You can see the other points below, most of them self explaining.

  • Primary Health Centre in every village to be linked to the National Telemedicine Service Network. Basic health insurance scheme for every citizen, using the IT platform. Cashless hospitalization.
  • India’s ranking in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which is currently 128, to be improved to 50 in five years, with the long-term objective of bringing India within Top Twenty by 2020.
  • Massive expansion in the use of IT in agriculture, rural development, SMEs, retail trade, and informal and unorganised sectors of the economy.
  • National e-Governance Plan to cover every Government office from the Centre to the Panchayats. The ‘E Gram Vishwa Gram’ scheme, launched by Shri Narendra Modi in Gujarat, to be implemented nationwide.
  • Government spending to be made corruption-free. A former Prime Minister had once said, “If I put Rs. 100 in the pipeline in Delhi, only Rs. 15 reach the end beneficiary.” In contrast to Congress governments’ Leaky Pipeline, the BJP’s IT Pipeline will ensure 100% benefit to people. Those who misappropriate public funds will be punished.
  • All post offices to be converted into IT-enabled Multi-Service Outlets. All telephone booths to be upgraded to Internet kiosks.
  • Citizens will have a simple 1-800 BSNL Toll Free Number, which will be accessible 24x7x 365 days of the year, to contact their Member of Parliament.
  • Unlimited VoIP access to all
  • e-Bhasha: National Mission for Promotion of IT in Indian Languages.
  • Special focus to bring women, SC/STs, OBCs and other weaker sections of society within the ambit of IT-enabled development.
  • Use of IT for the protection of India’s priceless cultural and artistic heritage.
  • Government to standardize on ‘open standard’ and ‘open source’ software.
  • Domestic IT hardware industry to be aggressively promoted to minimize dependence on imports.
  • Domestic hosting industry to be promoted to minimize international bandwidth charges.

Finally an independent body, Digital Security Agency (DSA), to be set up for cyber warfare, cyber counter-terrorism, and cyber security of national digital assets.

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April 2, 2009 - Posted by | Economics, India, Indian General Elections 2009, Infra Structure, Issues, Policy/Strategies, Politics

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