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George Iype |
December 21, 2004
Think of a high tech Indian village two years down the line.
Can all these things happen in a poor Indian village?
All these things and much more are all set to revolutionise the villages of Andhra Pradesh. Exactly two years from now, no villager in Andhra Pradesh will need to travel to the capital Hyderabad with his or her grievances.
Four years ago, former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu scripted a unique success story when he carved 'Cyberabad' out of Hyderabad.
But the current Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy says his hearts beats for the rural heartland.
Reddy is pioneering a dream project. It is the Broadband Village, which when completed would make the 22,000 panchayats of Andhra Pradesh India's most 'connected' villages.
Officially, Reddy has named the mammoth project Rajiv Internet Village.
"It was Rajiv Gandhi, who was instrumental in revolutionising information technology in India. He used technology for the benefit of farmers and pioneered to bring telephones within the reach of the rural people. I want to take this dream to a logical conclusion in my state," Reddy says.
Reddy feels that it is not the urban areas and cities alone that need the high tech connectivity these days.
"Development for Indian villages can come only if the benefits of Internet are provided to the farmers, the rural poor and the downtrodden sections of society," he says.
So what is the Rajiv Internet Village, alias Broadband Village, all about?
According to J C Mohanty, Principal Secretary for IT in Andhra Pradesh government who heads the ambitious project, the rural broadband network is an innovative and revolutionary project with three broad components:
Electronic delivery of all government services to the people through 6,000 rural IT kiosks to be set up across the state. A team of specially trained rural women to be appointed through self help groups under the rural development department will run the kiosks.
- Computer literacy for at least one person in each family in all Andhra Pradesh villages.
Broadband connectivity for all villages of Andhra Pradesh spread across the state's 2,75,000 square kilometers by December 2006.
The state government has allocated an initial amount of Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion) for the broadband project.
"Our idea is to take economic Internet services to all the villages through the vast broadband network. This will open up government services and bring them to the people's doorsteps. This would also help create lots of job opportunities in different sectors such as e-learning and even telemedicine," points out Mohanty.
He says the biggest benefit of this broadband network is that it will enable every citizen of the state to access information and services of the government in an efficient, convenient, transparent and cost-effective way.
But who is going to lay the broadband cables across the state?
Already, 15 major companies, including state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and giants like Reliance Infocomm have bid for the project.
The Reddy government will soon finalise the companies that will lay the fibre optic cables across the state.
The other finer details of the Rajiv Internet Village:
At present, 2 megabyte per second (MBPS) connectivity links the state secretariat and district headquarters. That will be replaced by a 10 gigabyte per second (GBPS) link between the secretariat, district headquarters and the villages. This means connectivity will be 5,000 times faster.
Once the Rajiv Internet Village is in place, 256 kilobyte per second (KBPS) connectivity now available for Rs 1,500 a month will be available for only Rs 100 to Rs 150!
The state government's department of electronically deliverable services, which has already won global acclaim for its urban and semi-urban e-Seva services, has been entrusted the responsibility of executing the broadband village project.
Ultimately, the idea is to offer G2C, G2B, B2B, B2C and C2C (government to consumer, government to business, business to business, business to consumer, and consumer to consumer) services providing ample scope for government departments, businesses, entrepreneurs, NGOs and organisations of all kinds to create and manage services addressed to the rural citizens and markets. The G2C and G2B services, currently available on government portal www.aponline.gov.in, will be linked to the proposed mega portal on the Rajiv Internet Village.
The IT kiosks in villages -- most probably to be named Rajiv Kiosks -- would be either single or multi-terminal systems, which will provide various services in an online, offline and interactive mode for, both, voice and data and will be connected to the district data-centres and the state data-centre."This is simply going to be the country's largest e-rural project. We are going to be the smartest government in two years," Chief Minister Reddy adds.