Revamped BharatNet (BharatNet 2.0)_00.1
UPSC Exam   »   Revamped BharatNet (BharatNet 2.0)

Revamped BharatNet (BharatNet 2.0)

Relevance:

GS paper 2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

GS paper 3: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

 

Context

Recently, the cabinet has approved the revamped BharatNet (BharatNet 2.0) project, with an additional allocation of more than Rs.19,000 crore.

 

Key points

  • Private players will be enrolled through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model, and it will be implemented in 16 states.
  • It will extend to all inhabited villages, beyond the Gram Panchayats(GPs).
  • The responsibility of creation, maintenance, operation, upgradation, and utilisation will rest with the concessionaire, who will be selected through an international bidding process.

 

What is BharatNet?

  • It is a central sector scheme of Ministry of Communication.
  • It is implemented by Bharat Broadband Network Limited, a special purpose vehicle.
  • It was first launched in 2011 as National Optical Fibre Network, and was renamed as BharatNet in 2015.
  • The objectives under this mission were to connect all the 2.50,000 GPs through an optical fibre network and provide 100 Mbps connectivity to all GPs.
  • It is funded, entirely, by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which was launched to improve the telecommunication services in rural areas of the country.

Revamped BharatNet (BharatNet 2.0)_50.1

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Significance of BharatNet programme

  • Digital divide: The programme can reduce the division created by the digital technology in rural and urban areas.
  • It has cross sectoral benefits ranging from e-governance, e-farming, e-healthcare, e-education,e-commerce among others.
  • It will help integrating the rural areas of the country in achieving the objectives of digital India.
  • It will help in expediting government initiatives like Start-up India, Stand-up India, Make-in India.
  • The project has a special advantage in the present power line infrastructure like easy maintenance, faster implementation etc.

PM Formalization of Micro Food Processing Enterprises (PM-FME)

 

Reasons for the launch of BharatNet 2.0

  • The earlier version was unable to achieve the last mile connectivity.
  • Lack of functional Internet connectivity: The report of Digital Empowerment Foundation’s research has found that only 50 of the 269 surveyed GPs had broadband internet connection and only 11% of them had functional internet connection.
  • Poor internet speed: The objective of 100 Mbps was not met and the internet speed in GPs, wherever it was available, was very slow.
  • Poor Implementation: Most of the delay was due to the absence of any detailed project report.

 

Steps needed to make BharatNet 2.0 successful

  • Establish accountability: This is one of the cardinal steps in making a project successful. Government should fix accountability and put the name in the public forum.
  • Use funds properly: The earlier phase of the project faced the dearth of funds. The allocated amount in the successive budget has not been used effectively.
  • Digital Literacy: The digital divide could be reduced by increasing the digital literacy in the remote areas.
    • Initiatives like PM Grameen Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA) can prove to be a game changer in this direction.
    • This could also reduce the financial frauds, which are prevalent in rural areas of the country.
  • Affordability: The internet should be made affordable to the people. Just making internet accessible to rural areas is only a half-won battle.
  • Gender gap: The internet service should be made inclusive by focussing on the socio-economic weaker section of the society including women.

Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021

 

Way Forward

In the era of digital revolution, internet services have become a necessity. The objective of inclusive development needs an equity-based solution, specifically tailored for the socio-economic backward strata of the Indian population. BharatNet has the potential to make our country, truly, Aatmanirbhar!

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