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4 years of Modi govt: Connecting villages to i-way will go a long way in bridging rural-urban divide

By Vikas

The Union Government's initiative to connect villages and Gram Panchayats with high-speed internet will go a long way in bridging the urban-rural gap. One of the main aims of Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is to ensure that the digital divide is kept to a minimum. Manoj Sinha, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Communications, currently heads the ministry. Till 2016, the ministry was headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad. The ministry controls three departments - Department of Telecommunications, Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and Department of Posts.

Ravi Shankar Prasad

Let us take a look at the other key achievements of the Communications and IT ministry:

Bharat Net project: Under the Bharat Net Project Phase 1, over one lakh Gram Panchayats (GP) across the country were connected with high speed optical fibre network as per the declared deadline of 31 Dec 2017. High-speed broadband services were provided to over 2.5 lakh villages which benefited more than 200 million rural Indians. As of December 31, 2017, 2,54,895 km Optical Fibre Cables (OFC) has been laid covering 1,09,926 GPs out of which 1,01,370 GPs have been made Service Ready.

Telecom Sector: The number of telecom connections witnessed a growth of 33.07%. The number of telecomt connections went up from 898.02 million in 2012-13 to 1194.99 million in 2016-17. According to ministry's report, out of the 1207.04 million telecom connections provided till September 2017, 501.99 million connections were in the rural areas, while 705.05 million were in the urban areas. Wireless telephony now constitutes 98.04% of all subscriptions.

As per ministry report, the net tele-density is 93.42%, out of which Rural areas' is 56.78% and Urban areas' is 172.86%. Number of Internet Connections went up to 431.21 million by the end of June'17.

FDI equity inflow in the telecom sector touched US $ 6.08 billion during April to September, 2017 which is more than four times that the sector witnessed during financial year 2015-16 and around 10% more than that during 2016-17.

Department of Posts:

Post Offices as Passport Seva Kendras:

One of the major initiatives undertaken by the current was to set up 235 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSK) in two phases across the country to make available passport related services in all the states. First POPSK was opened on 25.1.2017 at Metagalli Post Office, Mysuru, Karnataka and Dahod Head Post Office, Gujarat. Apart from this, 59 POPSKs are functioning in camp mode and remaining 27 are in various phases of readiness. Around 3.75 lakh passport appointments have been processed through these POPSKs.

Initiative to implement core banking solutions in department of posts:

23,424 out of a total of 25,353 (92%) Post Offices are on the CORE Banking Services (CBS) platform as on 11/10/2017. Post Office Savings Bank, POSB is the largest entity in the country on the CBS platform surpassing all the banks. This feat was achieved in less than four years.

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