In a move that can be apparently dubbed as a political soap to boost the sliding popularity of his Congress party in the 2014 general elections, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to launch a scheme to provide free mobile connection to six million poor families in the country.
The initiative that would cost 70 billion rupees is being finalized by the Prime Minister’s Office and the related departments and can help the poor people in remote and rural villages get the benefit of government welfare programs if it is implemented scientifically. The initiative could be announced by the prime minister in his Independence Day speech August 15, Times ofIndia reported.
The scheme, named “Har Hath Mein Phone” meaning “a phone in every hand” will provide mobile, connectivity to six million households or 28 million people below the line of poverty. The beneficiaries will get 1 cellphone with 200 minutes of free talk time and the project probably will be financed partly by the bidder and partly from the Universal Social Obligation (USO) fund, intended to provide affordable telecom services to people living in remote and rural areas.
The Congress party, which is heading the ruling United Progressive Alliance, expects to use the new scheme as a trump card to reach the grass root voter sections. According to the sources cited by the Times of India, the government believes the project can bring in the magic of the famous “Gareebi Hatao”(abolish poverty) slogan coined by former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the early 1970s.