In the design of India’s broadband initiative, it was said that one thing was non-negotiable: the work had to be done by state-owned enterprises. Knowledgeable people advised the government that this would slow down implementation. And so it happened.
Now the new Minister is hiring 10 CIOs to push implementation (including much of the eco system), setting realistic time targets and upping the spend from USD 7 billion to USD 17 billion. And taking all the credit, as is customary.
The fixation with SOEs left the UPA with nothing to talk about at election time. Will the BJP avoid this problem? Some indications exist that they may not. But they have five years . . .
A $17-billion government program to build a national optical fiber network that will connect India’s gram panchayats, or village-level governments, aims to cover the entire country in three years and could be a game changer, an Indian minister told Forbes.
Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister of communications and IT, and the head of the advisory group which supervises the implementation of the Digital India program, as it is called, said the program was approved by the Indian cabinet last month, and aims to cover 50,000 gram panchayats this year, 100,000 next year and the remaining 100,000 the following year. India’s 600,000 villages where over 800 million live, are administered by these local self-governments.