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Indian government to distribute mobile and tablets specifically to the rural population for free

ruralpepole-with-tabIt seems that the Indian government may not be able to control the falling rupee or increasing inflation costs, but is trying to make its every attempt in order to lure citizens to secure its vote bank. According to a latest report in TOI, before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the Indian government has proposed a scheme to spend INR 7860 crore to distribute 2.5 crore mobile phones and 90 lakhs tablets specifically to the rural population.

The programme will be implemented by Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd on behalf of the government. The scheme is proposed to be completed in the next four years starting from 2014-2015, in the name of bridging the digital gap in the country.

The scheme will be funded from the Universal Service Obligation Fund, which is being realized through a levy of 5% on telecom services revenues from operators. As per the reports, till March 31, 2013, this fund had nearly Rs 28,000 crore and Rs 6,500 crore was being added every year.

As proposed, for a one time payment of INR 300, the users can get a free mobile data connection for next two years with 30 minutes of talk time, 30 text messages and 30Mb of data usage free per month.

The tablets on the other hand, will be given away to students of classes XI and XII, both in rural and urban areas, with a free data card connection for two years or his/her duration of study at school, whichever is less. The service provider will give a free package of 75 minutes talk time, 75 SMSes and 500 MB data usage every month.

The selection of beneficiaries will be done by the state under the specific guidelines.

Previously, in May, 2013, the government of Rajasthan also gave away Rs 210 crore to 3.5 lakh class VIII students in state-run schools under the Rajiv Gandhi Vidyarthi Digital Scheme, wherein every student got Rs. 6,000 to buy tablet computers.

Now the point is, at time when the country is facing a serious economic crisis, its really hard to digest the amount of spending being done by the government. With each tablet and mobile costing INR 5900 and INR 1960, there are also distribution costs along with data charges (that too in crores) that the government have to bear for the next 4 years. Is the government really taking this step to improve the digital ecosystem in India or it is just another political move, only time would tell.

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