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#IndiaVotes09: BJP Promises 2Mbps Lines, Unlimited VoIP, 1 Billion Internet Subs; Colonize Mars?


Update: Atanu Dey has made certain assumptions about the cost of BJPs IT rollout plan, and estimates that the overall cost will be around $80 Billion.

Original Story: So the BJP has taken to technology with banner ads and a website, but some of the promises the party has made in its IT Vision Document made us wonder about why they didn’t suggest that India will colonize Mars. Thanks to Harish Anand Thilakan of Influx for informing us about the document.

Here are some highlights of the BJPs vision:

Internet users to equal mobile subscribers; 100 crore mobile users in five years: India has, reportedly, 50 million active Internet users in India today, less than 6 million broadband connections and 360 million mobile users. Where is the comparison? India is adding 10-15 million mobile subscribers per month, so BJP’s extrapolation of this growth to hit 100 crore in five years is quite possible, but 1 billion Internet subscribers?

2Mbps Broadband @ Rs 200 pm: This is a take on BSNL’s broadband roll outs across the country, only with a price tag – Rs 200 per month. Two long scheme names were announced – National Digital Highway Development Project and the Pradhan Mantri Digital Gram Sadak Yojana for last-mile access even in the remotest of villages. It also says that all schools and colleges will have Internet-enabled education. Doesnt say when.

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Free Smart Phones For Below Poverty Line Families: It’s dusk at a slum (choose any one of the thousands of them). A ragpicker holds a Blackberry and waits for his destiny to change. Waits for a better job, schooling for his children, an LPG stove, a meal, hygiene, water, the electricity to reach his dwelling. What was BJP thinking when it came out with this brilliant idea of giving a free smartphone to families living below the poverty line? Oh yes, they believe the smart phone “can be used by even illiterate users for accessing their bank accounts”. Bank accounts, transfering money, reading a bank balance, calling up a friend? Maybe they should first give them bank accounts, and money to bank.
Laptops: The party proposes to give 10 million students laptops priced at Rs 10,000. The party has already decided its specifications – Core2Duo laptop with 2GB RAM – but not the PC maker. It will “insist on indigenous manufacturing of laptops” in the country. Note that it does not mean assembly, but manufacturing – by the time fabs are established, chips produced and wholly Indian laptops are out…oh, we would’ve forgotten about this.


e-PCOs & e-Post Offices: The party takes credit for an existing project by BSNL, by promising that all telephone booths will be upgraded to Internet kiosks. Last year, BSNL had announced in Karnataka that one PCO per district would be converted into e-PCOs. We have written about BSNL’s latest kiosk plans here. Another unoriginal concept is converting post offices to IT-enabled Multi-Service Outlets. The department of posts already announced an investment ofRs 900 crore for upgrading post offices with broadband. Project Arrow will convert head post offices, ‘mukhya dak ghars’ and other important post offices both in rural and urban areas within the next six months into e-Post Offices. Read more on the launch in the Hindu.

Cashless Hospitalisation For Villagers: This is sounds very similar to the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna, a scheme launched by rival party head Manmohan Singh in 2007. Each bio-metric Smart Card holds a fixed amount of Rs 30,000 and a unique identification number, so it can be swiped without security fears. Over 31,05,607 cards have been distributed till date.

E Gram Vishwa Gram: Narendra Modi’s e-governance project in Gujarat will be scaled up for the rest of the country. V-Sat, video conferencing, internet and video broadcasting will be implemented by private companies such as Reliance Infocom and Airtel. The project will include setting up Common Service Centres and bring Internet and cyber services to villagers. Will this not overlap BSNL’s Internet kiosk initiative?

New Laws – VoIP Unfettered, National ID Card, Broadband Is 2 Mbps, Open Standards: NDA, if voted to power, would enact a law to make national identity cards mandatory for citizens to strengthen national security. The party claims its ignored by the UPA government and plans to re-launch it. The card will integrate your voter id, PAN card, ration card and driving license. Also Voice over IP will be unrestricted, the document says.

Video Conferencing: Obfuscation is their escape. What does this “Video conferencing to be made affordable and universally accessible” exactly mean?  And “Use of IT for the protection of India’s priceless cultural and artistic heritage” – how? BJP will also promote Indian languages and web-based learning by emulating Wikipedia, You Tube etc.

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India Versus China:indchin BJP believes that in the next five years, India will equal China on all IT parameters. The mind boggles. Take a look at the table and decide for yourself.

Details of budgeting, implementation processes and milestones are explicitly absent for any of the projects. The IT Vision document is just another pre-poll exercise, shall we call their bluff?

You can download the PDF of the IT Vision Document here.


— General Elections 2009: Online Lobbying Comes of Age

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