Telecom boom lifts 290 m above poverty line: Ashwani Kumar

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Mumbai, Mar 7 (UNI) The telecom revolution in the country has raised 290 million Indians above the poverty line, Union Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar said today.

Participating in the valedictory function of the two-day communications convergence conference of IMC here, he said, about 15 to 20 million poor rise to join the ranks of the middle class every year-- roughly equal to the population of Australia.

By 2011, 58 per cent of the rural population will have mobile phones as compared to 95 per cent of urban people. 80 million phones are purchased every year, as against 15 million bicycles, indicating that India's people are using mobiles rather than bicycles to achieve connectivity, the minister said. Dr Kumar was addressing a special session on 'Telecom Revolution - Powering the Indian Industry', here today.

However, he pointed out that there was a tremendous deficit in India's capabilities for manufacturing IT and communications hardware. ''If present growth trends continues, India's import bill for electronics will exceed its oil import bill by 2050,'' he observed.

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