Does a villager know how they can benefit from broadband internet being delivered to their doorstep by the Narendra Modi government? The message will now be taken to the grassroots through a branding exercise for the ‘BharatNet’ project under which all 6.3 lakh villages in India are being joined with internet.
The mega project, which is close to PM Narendra Modi’s heart, has got fresh pace under the new Telecom and Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw. The government is now going to hire branding agencies to carry out mass awareness campaigns for the ‘BharatNet’ project and wants people in villages to know how they can best use internet in the village in their lives.
The penetration and proliferation of broadband is also expected to increase direct and indirect employment and income generation.
“The objective of the campaigns is to generate awareness about BharatNet and to promote its advantages and benefits to the public and showcase the intended benefits to rural population in terms of awareness and affordable access to government welfare schemes, citizen centric services, e-learning, telemedicine, e-market, Business to Business services etc.,” says a document reviewed by News18. A number of government services will be hosted through BharatNet project for ‘ease of living’ of villagers.
The government has envisioned BharatNet to provide high speed digital connectivity to Rural India at affordable prices to facilitate proliferation of broadband service in rural areas and foster socio-economic development in line with the vision of ‘Digital India’ program, as per the document. “This will transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy,” it adds.
The campaign is to be “attractive, eye-catching, and focused on creatives which effectively communicate the impact of the project,” the document adds. Promotional material like brochure leaflets will be distributed in villages throughout the country, social media campaigns will be run, and a media campaign will be developed in regional languages, with hoardings and posters.
Speed to BharatNet Project
The initial scope of the BharatNet project was to cover 2.5 lakh gram panchayats in the country with optical fiber by August 2021. However, that deadline was missed due to a host of issues like Covid-19. The government had told Parliament this March that only about 1.5 lakh Gram Panchayats had been service ready so far.
On Independence Day in 2020, PM Narendra Modi had announced that the scope of the project stood expanded to cover all 6.3 lakh villages in the country in the next 1000 days by 2023.
This July, the government invited global tenders under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode for works worth Rs 29,500 crore in 16 states under the BharatNet project to connect another 3.61 lakh villages by optical fiber.
Vaishnaw had undertaken a detailed review of this project soon after taking over as the new Telecom and IT Minister on July 9. The earlier phase of the BharatNet project were implemented through three Central Public Sector Undertakings (CPSUs) but the government has now gone for PPP Model to leverage Private Sector efficiency in the project.
The government also says that the PPP Model in this critical infrastructure of Telecom is a novel initiative. “The Private Sector Partner is also expected to bring an equity investment and raise resources towards capital expenditure and for operation and maintenance of the network. Hence, the PPP Model for BharatNet will enhance efficiency, quality of service, consumer experience and leverage private sector expertise, entrepreneurship and capacities for accelerating achievement of digital India. This will be in addition to substantial savings of public money,” the government said.