Editorial

The push factor

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For any government, the realisation of an e-Government vision is an arduous task and a long journey indeed. Primarily, a government’s foremost desire is to see the fruits of governance reaching common citizens promptly. It is possible only when there is a nationwide network of its several departments effectively supported by an appropriate infrastructure for delivery of services to citizens. This could be achieved with the help of a robust telecom infrastructure to ensure proper and adequate connectivity, particularly in rural areas. President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam’s Vision 2020, which prominently focuses on PURA (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas), is in itself a strategic initiative having the potential to empower Rural India amply ensuring India’s participatory role in its own economic and social progress in the next 10-15 years. This would fructify only when all the villages across the country are fully networked with high-end connectivity, which a capable telecom and wireless infrastructure can readily provide.

At present, the telecom and wireless sector has emerged as one of the key sectors responsible for India’s resurgent economic growth. During the last two years, this sector has moved on to a higher growth path of an average rate of 40-45%. In terms of number of phones, India recently crossed 146 million mark thus becoming the fifth largest network in the world after China, USA, Japan and Germany. There is an immense potential to expand telecom network in India since the current teledensity in the country is only about 13.02% as against more than 100% in USA, Japan and Germany. China’s teledensity stands at 55%. In the developed countries, the demand has already saturated. India is therefore, in an enviable position to surpass these countries within next 4-5 years. Evidently enough, the mobile segment with a substantial contribution of both public and private sector would nonetheless lead the future growth. A total of 250 million phones is being targeted by December 2007, and further 500 million connections by the year 2010. The cellular networks are expected to cover 3,50,000 (out of 6,07,000) villages thereby covering 450 million people by 2006. Almost 85% of the geographical area in India is to be covered by mobile telephone by 2007.

In fact, telecom and wireless technologies are playing a vital role today in vastly improving access to various e-Government services to citizens. Thanks to the ever-increasing connectivity, a lot of people-to-people (P2P) interaction is taking place with each passing day. Connectivity has spurred efficient delivery of e-Government services such as declaring examination results through SMS, online railway booking etc. With growing awareness in citizens to avail e-Government services from the confines of their homes, offices etc., slow but steady pressure is mounting on government to deliver these services fast enough. All this, however, depend on the strengthening of the telecom and wireless infrastructure on a massive scale. The strengthened infrastructure would lead to increased connectivity necessary to take the e-Government movement forward. This is undoubtedly a push factor for e-Governance in the country.

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