The Economic Survey 2010, which was presented in the Parliament a day before the general budget was announced, proposed a number of initiatives – from a coupon system to be implemented alongside the UID Project to a Right To Information platform for post offices and a pilot project SIMRAN by the railway department. The survey also highlights the performance of earlier projects and the growth of the telecom sector. It also offered updates on the national e-governance roll outs and utilisation of USO funds over the past year.

UID: Coupon System

According to the Economic Survey, the Unique Identification project will assist a proposed coupon system for assisting the poor. The coupon system is a suggested alternative to the subsidy in essential food items like wheat etc, that at present is handed down to the poor through PDS stores.

The UID system will be complete by 2012. The UID is a project which aims at providing every resident of the country with a unique identification number.  The UIDAI will start issuing the IDs in 12-18 months time, and plans to cover 600 million people within four years from the start of the project.

Duty On Consumer Goods

According to the Economic Survey, basic customs duty on LCD panels for manufacture of LCD televisions was reduced from 10 percent to 5 percent and full exemption from 4 percent special CVD on parts for manufacture of mobile phones and accessories was reintroduced for one year, i.e. up to July 6, 2010.

Prasar Bharati’s Initiatives

The broadcaster has taken several steps to increase revenue through marketing and content improvement. It has introduced digital technology like Digital Terrestrial Transmission (DTT) and television on mobile and expansion of Direct to Home (DTH) service of DD-Direct+ to 97 free-to-air channels. Prasar Bharati will use high definition television technology for the coverage of the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Delhi. A budget of Rs 20.79 billion  was allocated in 2009-10 to cover up for the resource gap.

Banking For Farmers, Core Banking

A total of 87.83 million Kisan Credit Card was distributed as of November 30, 2009. In 2008-2009 the total number of branches of PSBs that implemented core banking has increased from 35,464 as on March 31, 2008 to 44,304 as on March 31, 2009.

FDI In Telecom

FDI inflow stood at $ 21.0 billion for the period April – September 2009 and was mainly channelled into manufacturing (21.4 per cent) followed by communication services (12.8 per cent) and the real estate sector (12.6 per cent).

The telecom sector received FDI worth Rs 108.11 billion for 2009-10 as compared to Rs 92.31 billion for 2008-09 and Rs 39.63 billion for 2007-08.
Acording to the survey India ranked among the first five countries in the export of computer and information services, commercial services, and communication services including telecommunications services.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) ceilings have been raised from 49 per cent to 74 per cent in telecom sector. For telecom equipment manufacturing and provision of IT-enabled services, 100 per cent FDI is permitted.

National e-Goverance Plan & Knowledge Network

According to the Economic Survey, 27 Mission Mode Projects were approved in May 2006. By December 2009, out of the 100,000 broadband Internet-enabled Common Service Centres (CSCs) planned to be rolled out in rural areas on PPP basis, 58,954 have been rolled out.

Eleven states and Union Territories have completed implementation of the State Wide Area Networks (SWANs) scheme which is expected to provide secured network from State headquarters up to block level with a minimum bandwidth capacity of 2 Mbps.

A total of Rs 13.79 billion has been approved for implementation of State Data Centres 27 States and Union Territories have completed the institutional framework for State-level strategic decision making including setting up of State e-Governance Mission Teams (SeMT) and deployed SeMT personnel.

A Knowledge Network consisting of 15 Points of Presence (PoPs) with 2.5 Gbp capacity with capability to connect 1000 nodes covering  universities, research institutions, libraries, laboratories, hospitals and agricultural institutions across the country, has been established. 57 institutions of higher learning have been connected to the network and six virtual classrooms hve been set up at six IITs.

Growth

With 525.1 million wireless connections as of December 2009, India has become the second largest wireless network in the world. Approximately 85 percent of the Eleventh Five Year Plan target of 600 million connections has been achieved at the halfway point. In 2003 there were only 54.6 million telephone connections in the country which has grown to 562.21 million as of December 2009.

Teledensity has increased from 12.7 percent in March 2006 to 37.0 percent in March 2009 and 47.9 percent in December 2009. Rural teledensity which was 1.2 percent .2 per cent in March 2002, increased to 9.5 per cent in March 2008 and further to 15.1 per cent in March 2009 and 21.2 per cent at the end of December 2009. Urban teledensity increased from 66.4 per cent in March 2008 to 88.8 per cent in March 2009 and stands at 110.7 per cent in December 2009.

In 2006 there were only 0.2 million broadband connections in India which has risen to 7.98 million by the end of December 2009. According to the survey the important challeng787e for broadband penetration is low PC penetration and affordability due to high cost. It further states that the government has issued guidelines for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) which will enhance broadband penetration.

Read: Economic Survey 2010 – Full Text on The Hindu

Target

The 11th Five Year Plan targets providing broadband to all secondary and higher secondary schools, Public Health Care Centers and Gram Panchayats. It is also envisaged that internet and broadband subscribers will increase to 40 million and 20 million respectively by 2010. The survey also discusses the upcoming 3G telecom  service, the yet to be implemented Mobile Number Portability (MNP) and the introduction of the National Integrated Directory Service.

USO Fund Utilization:

Village Public Telephones (VPT), Rural Community Phones: About 5.7 lakh VPTs are currently eligible for financial support for operation and maintenance. As of December 31, 2009 BSNL has provided VPTs to 61,186 VPTs out of 62,302 uncovered villages. Out of the target of 40,705 RCPs, 40,694 have been provided till December.

Tower Infrastructure: The government has launched a scheme to provide support for setting up and managing 7,436 infrastructure sites spread over 500 districts in 27 states. About 6,956 towers have been set up under this scheme so far. BTSs are being commissioned and mobile service started in a phased manner.

MARR Based VPTs & Rural Direct Exchange Lines: Under the USO Fund, a total of 1,85,121 MARR (Multi Access Radio Relay) based VPTs, 1,84,521 have been replaced till December 31, 2009. As of December 31, 2009, about 7.05 million RDELs (Rural Direct Exchange Lines)  have been provided.

Rural Broadband: 95,011 broadband connections out of the proposed 8,88,832 wire-line broadband connections and four kiosks have been provided till December 2009.

Post Offices

Out of 25,531 departmental post offices, 12,604 have been computerized and 1,304 post offices have been networked through leased line with the National Data Centre and 5,170 post offices have been networked through broadband. This has enabled the India Post to offer services like as electronic Money Order (eMO), e-payment and instant Money Order (iMO).

Indian Post has plans to computerize and network all its post offices in the next two years. An Right To Information software has been developed as 4000 post offices act as points of receiving RTI applications and forwarding them to public authorities.

Railways

Rail Sampark, the authorised enquiry department has launched a premium SMS facility for users to obtain information regarding PNR status, fare, seat availability and arrival & departure.

A trial of the pilot project, Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation (SIMRAN) using real-time train tracking through GPS and mobile (GSM) technologies has been successfully carried out by the Research Design and Standards Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow, in coordination with IIT/Kanpur.

RailTel has set up an OFC network of 37,000 route kilometres, of which 26,650 is of high bandwidth capacity. Till date, 231 important stations and about 3,276 other stations have been connected on the OFC network.

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