Budget 2020 allocates ₹6,000 crore for BharatNet to connect 1 lakh Gram Panchayats

Budget 2020 allocates ₹6,000 crore for BharatNet to connect 1 lakh Gram Panchayats
  • Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated ₹6,000 crore towards BharatNet.
  • The budget proposes to connect over 1 lakh Gram Panchayats in 2020.
  • It plans to bring rural and remote regions of India online through fiber to home (FTTH) connections.

India’s finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced ₹6,000 crore for BharatNet to digitise 1 lakh Gram Panchayats in 2020. As a part of Digital India, the government wants of public sector enterprises to be digitised — even at the Gram Panchayat Level.

“Our vision is that all public institutions at the Gram Panchayat level, such as aanganvaadis, health and wellness centres, government schools, PDS outlets, post offices, and police stations will all be provided with digital connectivity,” said Sitharaman.

BharatNet was established in 2017 as a highly scalable network infrastructure accessible on a non-discriminatory basis to provide affordable access to the internet at speeds of at least 2 megabytes per second.

“So, the fibre to home (FTTH) connections through BharatNet will link 100,000 Gram Panchayats this year itself. It is purposed therefore to provide ₹6,000 crore to BharatNet program 2020-21,” explained Sitharaman.

BharatNet is funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF). This was set up by the government to improve telecom services in rural and remote regions of India. The aim is not only to provide the internet but to deliver digital services like e-governance, e-health, e-education, and e-banking among others.

“The new economy is based on innovations that disrupt established business models. Artificial intelligence, internet of things, 3D printing, drones, DNA, data storage, quantum computing etc. are all rewriting the world economic order,” said Sitharaman explaining why it’s important to bring all of India online.

She also pointed out that India has already embraced a new paradigms — such as the sharing economy with aggregator platforms displacing conventional businesses.

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