It appears that unlike the previous government that was not of one mind regarding the centrality of mobiles, the new government has accepted it.
The Digital India project that aims to offer a one-stop shop for government services would use the mobile phone as the backbone of its delivery mechanism. The government hopes the Rs 1.13-lakh crore initiative that seeks to transform India into a connected economy to also attract investment in electronics manufacturing, create millions of jobs and support trade.
In an interview with ET, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to ensure a smartphone in the hands of every citizen by 2019. Currently, nearly 74% of the population has mobile phones, most of which though is in the hands of urban India.
“We want to ensure that all the services can be provided through a mobile handset, especially, health, education, various government services and retail,” Prasad said. “We want it (handset) to be used as a tool for empowerment. We will need to incentivise its usage in order to promote the social and the economic objectives of the government.”
In order to use the mobile phone to help achieve financial inclusion, the government will need to structure the delivery of financial services in a manner that encourages a villager to go for mobile banking, the minister said. For instance, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, a financial inclusion plan the Prime Minister announced on August 15, can be effectively rolled out through mobile handsets. The programme seeks to give every household in rural India access to bank account, along with a RuPay debit card and insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh. At present, nearly 60% of the nation’s population doesn’t have access to financial services.