“ICTs do play a role in every aspect of life,” said Shri V. Raghunandan, Deputy Director-General of International Relations at India’s Ministry of Communications.
During an interview held at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018 in Dubai, he described one of the major development initiatives in India using ICTs — the ‘Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile’ (JAM) initiative — which refers to a large digital financial inclusion programme run by the government of India.
“So you could actually use the technology not only for the purpose of the communication [but also] for empowerment of the people,” he said. “Around three hundred million bank accounts are open. This is possibly the largest initiative [of this kind] in the world.”
The JAM trinity programme has saved the government of India nearly 13 billion US dollars, he explained. The initiative cost two to three billion dollars for one billion people, meaning that fewer than three dollars were spent per person to lift them out of poverty.
Another one of India’s major projects is BharatNet, which aims to connect 600,000 villages at government cost, he said. BharatNet uses a levy called a Universal Services Obligation Fund, and the Government of India also puts its own funding on this project, said Raghunandan.
“We are happy to say that we are halfway through …. Nearly 250,000 villages have been already connected.”
The project aims to have a holistic approach to connectivity — ensuring that government services can be provided to citizens, said Raghunandan.
“India wants to share its own experiences … to the other parts of the world,” said Raghunandan. “I am happy that the outcome of one of the Council meetings here [at PP-18] is … establishing an ITU local area office in India…. India has sponsored this establishment of the ITU office through which we would like to take forward all the initiatives for inclusive development.”