In the run up to the upcoming general elections, India’s leading opposition party, BJP, has announced its “IT Vision” for the country. Before reading ahead, I would want you to read the IT vision at BJP’s website.
Now for the IT vision itself. I am not sure if I should call it myopic, or really far-sighted. It seems that the IT pundits who helped BJP write this vision are quite mis-informed themselves. Thus we end up with an IT vision that, IMHO, is unachievable. Let me pick out some points from it and try to explain why they are so difficult to achieve.
1.2 crore (12 million) new IT-enabled jobs in rural areas.
How, in its right mind, does the BJP believe it can create so many jobs in IT? That too in rural India, where lack of infrastructure, connectivity (road and internet), power and basic amenities are lacking. Before creating these crores of jobs, shouldn’t infrastructure issues be sorted out first?
Most IT/ITeS jobs in India currently are courtesy the US, which is now heavily coming down on outsourcing. I haven’t heard any member of the BJP come out and make noise about this protectionist attitude of the US. Neither does the BJP talk about creating indigenous demand for IT/ITeS. Unless there is demand, creating these millions of jobs is going to be a tall order.
1 crore (10 million) students to get laptop computers at Rs 10,000. Interest-free loan for anyone unable to afford it
Excellent idea. Throwing away cheap laptops seems to be the next in-thing (after throwing away free rice and ration cards). Now my question is, where are these Rs 10,000 laptops going to come from? The only laptop in this price (that I am aware of) is the upcoming Qualcomm “Kayak”, slated for launch later this year. These laptops are meant “for browsing the internet” and are connected via 3G services. Currently, only New Delhi has a working 3G service (MTNL). Is BJP planning to widen 3G services across the country as well? Sweeeeet!!! Or is this just another one of those, errmm, election promises?
Broadband Internet (2 Mbps) in every town and village, at cable TV prices (less than Rs 200/month).
Thank you thank you thank you!! I am willing to pay even 500 Rs/month for 2Mbps broadband services. But is it going to be of any use? In the IT city of Gurgaon (where I happen to live), there is a daily powercut of 3-5 hours. On a nice, hot, sweltering summer day, the powercut goes up to 8 hours (including hours in the night). If this is the power situation in Gurgaon, I wonder how it will be in small towns and villages. With such a power situation, the only use I have for the broadband internet is to use it hang my wet laundry on its wires. If India’s towns and villages need something, it is 24×7 electricity. Have a vision for giving us that!!!
Every BPL family to be given a free smart mobile phone, which can be used by even illiterate users for accessing their bank accounts.
Wait, so we had low cost rice, low cost laptops and now (drum roll) free smart mobiles. What intrigues me is this: A family is defined as being Below poverty line (BPL) if its monthly per capita consumption expenditure is below Rs. 356.35 for rural areas and Rs. 538.60 for urban areas (Source: Poverty in India on Wikipedia). Common sense dictates that if a family can only spend Rs 350 per month on living, how would it have a bank account? And if it does have a bank account, how much balance would be in that account for the BPL family to do “transactions” with on their BJP-enabled smartphones? This is not helpful, it is actually an insult to all those poor people who are barely surviving. They’ll appreciate more means of income rather than free mobile phones!!!
This idea seems to be given by the same people who made the “India Shining campaign”, that cost the BJP dearly in the last general elections. Instead of learning from its mistakes, BJP seems to be glorifying them!! Sad, sad, sad!
Government spending to be made corruption-free. A former Prime Minister had once said, “If I put Rs. 100 in the pipeline in Delhi, only Rs. 15 reach the end beneficiary.” In contrast to Congress governments’ Leaky Pipeline, the BJP’s IT Pipeline will ensure 100% benefit to people. Those who misappropriate public funds will be punished.
Whoa….corruption free government spending! A dream that does not need IT to be realized. But the BJP seems to think otherwise. I simply fail to make the connection between IT and corruption free government! Or wait, is it that because there will be IT, there will be more transparency. More transparency should ensure corruption free spending, right?
Wrong! The moot point here is that IT simply enables for sharing of information. I am not sure if the government is so willing to share its spending information. And if it is, might I suggest implementation of a system that shows me where my tax money was spent. I am sure a lot of the tax paying class would appreciate knowing how and where its money was spent. Simply saying x and y crores were spent on road development will not do. I want to know which exact roads were built using that money, and if they are any good (at least the roads here in gurgaon are trashy, to say the least).
If there is no political will (which hasn’t been present in the last 60 years) for reducing corruption, how will IT make any difference?
Citizens will have a simple 1-800 BSNL Toll Free Number, which will be accessible 24x7x 365 days of the year, to contact their Member of Parliament.
And what would be the response? I am sorry, but the MP you are trying to call is too busy dozing off in the Parliament. Or wait, how about this, “the MP you are trying to reach is too busy creating traffic jams with his 10 car cavalcade”. Or this, “the MP you want to reach is busy blowing off taxpayer’s money in some foreign country”. If I contact my member of parliament and tell him that there is 8-10 hours of daily powercuts, water shortages, bad broken roads, no security, excessive inflation(the government says it is 0.11%, my vegetable vendor and grocer seem to disagree and increase prices every week), will he do something to improve the situation? BJP itself, by disrupting parliament proceedings hundreds of times has shown that it has utter disregard for the taxpayer’s money. However much its vocal leaders may shout, disruption of a constitutional machine like the parliament costs dearly to the taxpayer, not only in terms of the money wasted, but also in terms of wastage of valuable time that could be used to discuss important issues.
Oh, and even if there were a 1-800 toll free number, how does that guarantee accountability? How will Mr. L.K Advani be accountable for his work in his constituency? How will Ms. Sushma Swaraj be held accountable for not fulfilling those promises that she screams out on TV channels? We need accountability, we need politicians to be answerable to people who are paying for their daily bread and butter with their hard earned money.
What BJP needs in its IT vision is a simple statement: We will provide a report card for each of our MPs online, where people can openly say that their elected leader is not doing his/her job. where people can hold its elected representatives accountable in full public view, where politicians will have no place to hide after they make rosy promises and get elected.
Give us accountability, BJP. Not bullshit!
1.The author hold no favour/bias towards any political party. This article is not written with any political motivations, but with a simple idea to show what the country really needs!
2. Hateful/vengeful/biased comments are not welcome. Please spew out your hatred somewhere else.