In terms of subscribers, India is the world’s largest mobile phone market. According to the latest data released by TRAI, till March 31, 2013, the country had a total of 898.02 million mobile phone connections. However, the number of broadband users continues to languish at a relatively low figure of 15.05 million till March 31, 2013. The yearly growth of broadband services is only 9.13 percent.
e-Governance cannot really take off in the country, if we don’t have proper broadband connectivity. The TRAI report states that the top five ISPs in terms of market share (based on subscriber base) are: BSNL (9.93 million), Bharti Airtel (1.40 million), MTNL (1.08 million), Hathway (0.37 million) and You Broadband (0.31 million). It is a good thing that the public sector entity, BSNL is contributing its mite in the broadband space. In this issue of eGov we have covered the work being done by BSNL through interviews of its senior officials.
One major area where ICTs can play a large role is Indian Railways. The Indian Railways serves more than 23 million passengers daily. Majority of these passengers might not have access to Internet, so they cannot directly take advantage of the online ticket booking and other services that Indian Railways has launched. Recently Indian Railways has launched an SMS-based ticketing service through two dedicated numbers 139 and 5676714. No one should have any doubt that this service will become one of the most popular m-Governance services.
This issue of eGov is a Railway special, through a range of articles and interviews we have covered the innovative reforms that the government is bringing in this sector. Some interesting facts and figures have emerged out of this coverage of the railway sector. We get to know about the new initiatives that are being taken for implementation of new ICT technologies in the Indian Railways for not only bringing more convenience to the passengers, but also for ushering efficiency and transparency in the internal workings of the organisation.
Another interesting piece that I would like to recommend to you is the interview of Dr Akhilesh Gupta, the secretary at of UGC. Dr. Gupta provides us some interesting perspectives on the state of Higher Education in the country. I am sure you will enjoy reading it. Additionally, there is the article from R K Goyal, Joint Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology, on the crucial subject of how ICT can be used for promoting inclusive development.
In July 23-24, we are having the eINDIA 2013 event at Hyderabad International Convention Centre, Hyderabad. This would be the 9th edition of eINDIA and like every year we would be having four parallel tracks to the event. The tracks would focus on e-Governance, education, healthcare and PSUs. I would also like to tell you that the Government of Andhra Pradesh is co-hosting the 9th edition of eINDIA 2013 along with Elets Technomedia Pvt. Ltd. The event is being supported by large number of government organisations.
We look forward to having you in eINDIA 2013, where you can participate in the vibrant round of discussions with the stakeholders who are engaged in devising new ideas for development of the country.