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BJP promises infotech nirvana for all

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A multi-purpose identity card for all citizens, 12 million new information technology-enabled jobs in rural areas, laptops priced at Rs 10,000 for 10 million students, a smart mobile phone for every family below the poverty line. The Bharatiya Janata Party today to all in the country — farmers, students, poor people and computer hardware manufacturers — if it is voted to power in the next general elections.

LK Advani, the party’s candidate for prime minister, today unveiled the party’s IT vision called Transforming Bharat. “We are confident of bringing about the next revolution in India through the use of IT and technology,” Advani said. Party sources said at least 10 heads of top IT companies were consulted before finalising the document and that the IT plan would require an investment running into hundreds of thousands of crores.

The document, prepared by the party’s core IT team, makes several promises on the use of IT for education, national security and governance. It promises protection to the domestic hardware companies against imports and carries at least one telecom projection — mobile connections in the country will go up from 400 million now to 1 billion in five years.

Seeking to connect all the classrooms across the country with the Internet, the government would distribute 10 million laptops to students in the first year of its rule. According to Pradyut Bora, the IT head of the party, companies which back this project will be asked to set up manufacturing units for affordable computers.

The vision also envisions a multi-purpose identity card for all Indians, which will serve as an all-purpose document for matters ranging from buying ration from fair-price stores to getting a passport. This would enable the government to keep a check on illegal migrants and intruders. The project is planned to be implemented within three years.

The party promises immediate implementation of unrestricted VoIP, conversion of Post Offices into IT-enabled multi-service outlets, a simple toll free number (1-800 operated by state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd) to contact their Member of Parliament and an independent body called the Digital Security Agency for cyber security.

According to the document, BJP proposes to digitalise all land records and get these connected to the Global Positioning System. Borrowing a leaf from Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s scheme of making each village panchayat IT-enabled, Advani said: “The idea is to have complete e-governance across the country — right from the top echelons to the village panchayats.”

The party has also coined catchy campaign slogans based on its IT vision. Some of these are: “BJP ka vada: IT se saab ka nata” (BJP’s promise is to connect everybody with IT). The party is also seeking to make Internet and broadband services affordable by bringing the price down to Rs 200 per month.

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