Six-fold increase in Government spending on telecommunications infrastructure and services in the country – from Rs. 9,900 crores between 2009-14, to Rs. 60,000 crores (actual + planned) between 2014-19
Tariff reductions benefiting consumers across the country: Average voice tariff declined by 67% – from an average per minute tariff of 51 paise in June 2014 to 11 paise in June 2018 Average data tariff declined by 96% - from Rs. 269 per GB in 2014, to Rs. 12 per GB in June 2018 Restoring the trust between Government and Citizens through a smooth and transparent auction of spectrum in 2015 and 2016 – more than 1382 MHz sold, realising an upfront payment of approximately Rs. 65,000 crores
For the spectrum auction of October, 2016, DoT received an Excellence Award from CVC in November 2017, for “Transparency in e-auction of spectrum in 2016” Telecom service providers now have sufficient spectrum available to offer their sevices; the regime of spectrum shortage is a thing of the past
Under the BharatNet project, which is expected to trigger the era of Broadband in rural India, nearly 50% of the total 2.5 Lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) in the country have been connected through high-speed OFC network by October 2018, as compared to 59 GPs in June 2014; plan to complete the remaining GPs by March 2019 Network for Spectrum (NFS) project for Defence – project approved in July 2012; no cable laid until May 2014; 51,000 km of Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) laid in the last 4 years
Under BharatNet and NFS projects, OFC laid at a peak rate of 800 km per day, with an average of more than 200 km per day – a record of sorts As a result of its’ role in the BharatNet project, ITI Ltd. was able to report a net profit of Rs. 102 crores (without grants) for the year 2017-18
Proactive engagement, planning, and investment to leverage new technologies for the welfare of citizens – High-Level Forum (HLF) for 5G India set up which submitted its report in August 2018; 5G test beds established through Industry-Academia partnership and government support; 5G field trials to be conducted over the next 12 months
Increase in overall tele-density in the country – from 75% in June 2014 to 93% in March 2018, adding 305 million new subscribers Mobile Internet subscriptions more than doubled – from 233 Million in March 2014 to 491 Million in June 2018 Over 107% increase in internet coverage – from 251 million users in June 2014 to 512 million in June 2018
Number of mobile Base Transceiver Stations (BTS)more than doubled – from 7.9 lakh in May 2014 to more than20 lakh in May 2018 Country-wide OFCcoverage doubled – from 7 lakh km in May 2014 to 14 lakh km in May 2018 Average mobile data usage per subscriber grew 51 times – from 62 MB per month to 3.2 GB per month
Cheapest data tariff globally – from Rs. 300 per GB in 2014 to Rs. 12 per GB in June 2018, tariff reduction of 96% Highest mobile data consumption globally at 3.4 Billion GB per month Seven times growth in broadband access – from 61 million subscribers in March 2014, to 447 million subscribers in June 2018
Digital payment transactions through mobile grew four times– from 168 million in November 2016 to 600 million now Five times jump in FDI inflows in Telecom Sector – from USD 1.3 billion in 2015-16, to USD 6.2 billion in 2017-18
Connecting the Unconnectedareas in the country: Left-Wing Extremism Affected Areas – 2335 mobile towers installed in Phase I, at a total outlay of Rs. 4,781 crores; 4072 towers approved for installation in Phase II, with a total outlay of Rs. 7,330 crores
Biggest ever Telecom Spend in the North-East Region –Ongoing projects with a total outlay of more than Rs. 10,800 crores, connecting border areas, highways, and unconnected villages Submarine cable connectivity to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in addition to strengthening connectivity within the islands and in Lakshadweep – at an outlay of Rs. 2,250 crores
Extensive expansion of the Wi-Fi eco-system in rural areas,with an outlay of Rs. 10,000 crores – 25,000 hot-spots by BSNL in rural exchanges, 7,000 hot-spots (e-Choupals) by Common Service Centres (CSCs); Additional 1 million Hotspots planned by March 2019
Key reforms to facilitate the operation of a Robust, Competitive, and Sustainable Telecom Sector: Spectrum sharing and trading allowed – to boost competition Spectrum harmonisation – resulting in freeing up spectrum for auction Sharing of passive (e.g., fibre, towers) and active (e.g., BTS) infrastructure Deferred Payment Liabilities – to reduce financial stress in the sector Easing of Right of Way (RoW) Rules and Charges – Ease of Doing Business Full mobile number portability
Virtual Network Operators (VNO) license introduced – for effective infrastructure utilisation Input credit for VNO licensees allowed to ease tax burden
The National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018 – summarises our Aspirations and Determination: Missions – NDCP 2018 Connect India – Universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps Propel India – Attracting investments worth USD 100 Billion Secure India – A strong, flexible, and robust communications infrastructure and data protection regime
Objectives – NDCP 2018 Providing Broadband to all by 2022 Adding 4 million jobs in the sector Digital Communications sector to grow to 8% of India’s GDP by 2022 (present 6%) To bring India tothe top 50 rank(from present 134) in the ICT Development Index of the International Telecom Union Net positive international trade in the sector – through increased local manufacturing and exports, and lower imports Ensuring Digital Sovereignty of the country
Average annual Speed Post revenue more than doubled – from Rs. 788 crores between 2006-14 to an average revenue of Rs. 1,682crores between 2014-18. Revenue of Rs. 415 Crores from the e-Commerce business in 2017-18, with a growth of more than 20% over the previous financial year
Established a separate Parcel Directorate, in order to focus on this growing business segment; 42 parcel centres and 242 nodal delivery centres have already been established to handle increased volume of consignments Launched at all 650 IPPB branches co-located in District HQ Post Offices along with 1,01,173 Access Points
IPPB will offer a 360-degree financial services suite across multiple channels – to benefit the unbanked and under-banked IPPB Stats (between 1st Sep 2018 and 1st Jan 2019): Total Accounts Opened:20.11 Lacs Cumulative Value of Transactions: INR 561 Crores Cumulative Volume of Transactions: 12.87 Lacs 995 DoP ATMs are now inter-operable with other Banks.
Sukanya Samridhi Scheme: Out of total 1.52 Crores enrolments, 1.31 crores done through Post Offices Aadhar Enrolments & Updation Centres have been made functional in 13,352 Post Offices across the country till date; more than 8 Lakh enrolments and 29 lakh updates have already been completed in these centres
254 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSKs) started across the country in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs – to provide passport services through POPSKs/PSKs in each parliamentary constituency; more than 17.5 lakh passport appointments have already been processed in these POPSKs. Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI) – insurance products from the DoP, with the unique feature of ‘low premium, high bonus’;
renewed drive to extend the benefits of these products to promote financial inclusion in the country Total Assets Under Management (AUM) (including GOI Special Securities/Floating Rate Bonds) in PLI and RPLI increased by 2.0 times between March 2014 and September 2018 – from Rs. 25,856 crores to Rs. 93,068 crores Benefits of Postal Life Insurance (PLI) are no longer limited to Government and Semi-Government employees; this facility is now also available to professionals (teachers, lawyers, engineers, doctors, CAs) and employees of listed companies of NSE and BSE
Under SampoornaBima Gram Yojana, at least one person insured from each household in 2,529 villages nation-wide; 10,000 villages targeted by March 2019 A philately scholarship scheme called Deen Dayal SPARSH (Scholarship for Promotion of Aptitude &Research in Stamps as a Hobby) Yojana was introduced in November, 2017 to promote Philately among children; under the scheme, 920 scholarships will be given every year to school-children who demonstrate interest in philately. This year as of now 83,861 students have applied under the Scholarship Scheme.
Department of Posts has been issuing stamps on people centric themes. Some of the themes on which stamps have been issued recently are – Ramayana, Mahabharata, Indian Cuisine, Solar System, Safdarjung Hospital etc. Circular Postage Stamps to mark the commencement of 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi were issued by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on 2nd October 2018. This is the first time in the history of Independent India that Circular Postage Stamps have been issued.
Technology investments in the Department have increased from Rs. 434 crores between 2010-14 to about Rs. 1087 crore (upto Sep, 2018) between 2014-18. More than 1.29 lakh SIM based handheld devices are in use by Gramin Dak Sewaks in Branch Post Offices.
5.21 crore transactions have been processed successfully on National Automated Clearing House (NACH) platform since December 2016, handling more than Rs. 3,904crores
Postman mobile application has been introduced to update the delivery information of accountable mail, including cash on delivery, on a real time basis
What’s the issue? DoPT had informed the Supreme Court that the search committee was to shortlist candidates “out of the applications received.” However, later it was found that shortlisting had been done outside the list of applicants, in violation of procedure laid out by the department in their own affidavit to the Supreme Court.
However, the department defends its move by saying that the search committee is not restricted to applicants, but to deserving candidates.
Need of the hour: We need transparency at every stage, and public scrutiny to prevent such an arbitrary process. Centre and states to maintain transparency in appointments of Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners and upload the details of search committees and applicants on website.
Basics about CIC: What is the eligibility criteria and what is the process of appointment of CIC/IC? Section 12(3) of the RTI Act 2005 provides as follows: The Prime Minister, who shall be the Chairperson of the committee; The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha; and A Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
Eligibility: Section 12(5) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners shall be persons of eminence in public life with wide knowledge and experience in law, science and technology, social service, management, journalism, mass media or administration and governance.
Section 12(6) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that Chief Information Commissioner or an Information Commissioner shall not be a Member of Parliament or Member of the Legislature of any State or Union Territory as the case may be, or hold any other office of profit or connected with any political party or carrying on any business or pursuing any profession.
What is the term of office and other service conditions of CIC? Section 13 of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the Chief Information Commissioner shall hold office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall not be eligible for reappointment.
Section 13(5)(a) of the RTI Act 2005 provides that the salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner.
What’s the demand? The state has submitted a memorandum to Home Minister Rajnath Singh to give President’s assent to the Manipur Peoples (Protection) Bill, 2018. It will protect the interests of people of the State.
Manipur People’s Protection Bill, 2018: It seeks to regulate the entry and exit of “outsiders” on the lines of the British-era inner-line permit system prevalent in three other north-eastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. The bill sets 1951 as the base year to identify locals and prevent an influx of outsiders.
Who are Manipuris and non- Manipuris? According to the bill, Manipur people include Meitis, the Pangal Muslims, scheduled tribes as listed under the Constitution in terms of Manipur and all those citizens of India who have been living in Manipur before 1951.
The rest have been put in the category of non-Manipuris and will have to register themselves within one month of the notification of the law. They will be issued a pass extendable up to six months. While those who have trade licences can get a pass extendable up to five years, which will have to be renewed every year. Any outsider visiting Manipur would need a pass.
Rationale behind the Bill: The influx of foreign tourists has increased exponentially in Manipur, thus creating a demographic imbalance in the region. If this was not enough, illegal immigration from Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar has also contributed to the crisis. This has created fear among the locals over employment and availability of resources.
At a time where there already exists stiff competition between the locals and outsiders over jobs, the outsiders mostly settle for low paid work. Hence, locals feel ILP fails to safeguard the interests of the indigenous people.
WHAT IS THE INNER LINE PERMIT? The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to grant inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indians residing outside those states to obtain permission prior to entering the protected areas.
Currently, the Inner Line Permit is operational in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. The document has been issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 and the conditions and restrictions vary from state to state.
It can be issued for travel purposes solely. Visitors are not allowed to purchase property in these regions. However, there might be a different set of rules for long term visitors, though they are not valid for central government employees and security forces.
Context: The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is going to propose a new bank exclusively for financing energy access to billions.
The proposal- The bank is still at the ideation stage: ISA has asked the Asian Development Bank to prepare a concept note. A public-private partnership is being thought of for the proposed, which will work for 1.2 billion people who lack access to energy as well as the 2.4 billion who lack access to clean energy.
Need: Existing banks do not focus on universal energy access—those still deprived are the poorest of the poor; thus, out of the ambit of these banks. Therefore, we need special finance mechanism which can target these people.
About ISA: The Paris Declaration establishes ISA as an alliance dedicated to the promotion of solar energy among its member countries. Objectives: The ISA’s major objectives include global deployment of over 1,000GW of solar generation capacity and mobilisation of investment of over US$ 1000 billion into solar energy by 2030.
What it does? As an action-oriented organisation, the ISA brings together countries with rich solar potential to aggregate global demand, thereby reducing prices through bulk purchase, facilitating the deployment of existing solar technologies at scale, and promoting collaborative solar R&D and capacity building.
When it entered into force? When the ISA Framework Agreement entered into force on December 6th, 2017, ISA formally became a de-jure treaty based International Intergovernmental Organization, headquartered at Gurugram, India.