FICCI in News
Phase 1 of Bharat Net project to be completed by December
Financial Express, Oct 27, 2017
The first phase of national optic fibre network christened Bharat Net project, which aims to deploy high-speed optical fibre cables across rural areas will be completed by December this year, thus providing Internet access to 100,000 gram panchayats, Aruna Sundararajan, secretary, Department of Telecommunications said on Thursday. Sundararajan was speaking at the fourth edition of the ‘i-Bharat 2017’ conference held in the Capital based on the theme of ‘ICT elucidations for unserved and unsolved, organised by industry body FICCI in association with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. According to Sundararajan, Bharat Net has now reached 83,000 gram panchayats. She further added that it is imperative to create a fibre first programme, where the government as well as private sector can join hands to achieve the objective of doubling the reach of telecom fibre network in the country by 2020.

Even as Sanjaya Baru, secretary general , FICCI agreed with Sundararajan on the need for government and private sector to collaborate for bringing about a change, he pointed out the need to have pre-policy consultations between the government and industry rather than resort to post-policy alterations which leads to needless confusion. “FICCI, would initiate closed-door consultations for industry so that its representatives can have a free and frank discussion with policy makers in the government,” he said.

Next, Anant Goenka, executive director, Indian Express Group, spoke on how India which has the second largest base of Internet users in the world, should also play a significant role in the governance and control of it. “The digital terrain in India and around the world so far is best traversed on the backs of four organisations, and American regulators are setting the rules. Certainly we have all benefited tremendously with their imagination and usability. As the second largest consumer base of the Internet we can be very happy with the Digital India that we are so successfully building, but if we really want to shape not just what Digital India is but who the digital Indian is, we must look beyond,” he said.

Goenka further added that there are two areas in the interplay of technology and policy where the world is closely looking at India. “One is how India will leverage its Aadhaar and election commission data base. And second how will the country tackle the privacy debate after the Supreme Court ruling on privacy being a fundamental right,” said Goenka. Then, Som Satsangi, MD, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, talked about the need to bring low-cost, affordable solutions for the people at the bottom of the pyramid, especially using digital. “With a large-scale of people that is about 250 million expected to migrate from rural areas to urban cities by 2020, the challenge resides in readying urban cities to meet the rise in demand of various services. The industry therefore needs to work towards creating affordable solutions in the space of health, education, etc., using the power of digital,” said Satsangi.
Lastly, Virat Bhatia, chairman , ICT and digital economy committee of FICCI, said that following the government initiatives, the internet landscape of India is about to experience a tectonic-shift. “The next millions of users that will come on the internet by 2020, will utilise ICT as socio-economic tool of development,” he added. He also emphasised that to fulfil the dream of ‘New India’, everyone will have to work towards good governance and streamlining the marginalized section of the society and transforming India into an empowered and inclusive knowledge-based society.
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