(Online Course) Contemporary Issues for IAS Mains 2012: Yojana Magazine – Draft National Telecom Policy, 2011

Yojana Magazine

Non Governmental Organizations – Draft National Telecom
Policy, 2011

What is the necessity of a new telecom policy?

Earlier telecom policy was announced in 1999 at a time when
India had just entered into the area of mobile telephony and the total number of
mobile phone users in India was limited to only around 20 lakhs. Over
the decade, the telecom sector in India has undergone sea change particularly
after incoming calls were made free as India emerged as the fastest growing
mobile market in the world. Today there are around 90 crore mobile phone
connections in India. Future of mobile telephony market in India is still
promising and expanding every day. This necessitated introduction of a new set
of guide lines with pragmatic vision and scope.

What are the objectives of National Telecom Policy (NPT)
2011?

The primary objective ofNTP-2011 is maximizing public good by
making available affordable, reliable and secure telecommunication and broadband
services across the entire country. The main thrust of the Policy
is on the multiplier effect and transformational impact of such services on the
overall economy. It recognizes the role of such services in furthering the
national development agenda while enhancing equity and inclusiveness. Direct
revenue generation would continue to remain a secondary objective.NTP-2011 also
recognizes the predominant role of the private sector in this field and the
consequent policy imperative of ensuring continued viability of service
providers in a competitive environment. Pursuant to NTP-2011, these principles
would guide decisions needed to strike a balance between the interests of
users/consumers, service providers and government revenue. Point wise we can put
these objective in following concrete terms:

The National Telecom Policy-2011 envisions providing the
people of India, secure, reliable, affordable and high quality converged
telecommunication services anytime, anywhere. Some of the important objectives
of
the policy include:

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  1. Increase in rural tele density from the current level of
    around 35 to 60 by the year 2017 and 100 by the year 2020.

  2. Provide affordable and reliable broadband on demand by
    the year 2015 and to achieve 175 million broadband connections by the year
    2017 and 600million by the year 2020 at minimum 2Mbps download speed and
    making available higher speeds of at least 100Mbps on demand.

  3. Provide high speed and high quality broadband access to
    all village panchayats through optical fiber by the year 2014 and
    progressively to all villages and habitations.

  4. Promote indigenous R&D, innovation and manufacturing that
    serve domestic and foreign markets.

  5. Promote the domestic production of telecommunication
    equipment to meet 80 percent Indian telecom sector demand through domestic
    manufacturing with a value addition of 65 percent by the year 2020.

  6. Provide preferential market access for domestic ally
    manufactured telecommunication products including mobile devices, SIM cards
    with enhanced features etc. with special emphasis on Indian products for
    which IPRs reside in India to address strategic and security concerns of the
    Government, consistent with international commitments.

  7. Strive to create One Nation – One License across services
    and service areas.

  8. Achieve One Nation – Full Mobile Number Portability and
    work towards One Nation – Free Roaming.

  9. To reposition the mobile phone from a mere communication
    device to an instrument of empowerment that combines communication with
    proof of identity, fully secure financial and other transaction capability,
    multi-lingual services and a whole range of other capabilities that ride on
    them and transcend the literacy barrier.

  10. Deliver seamless ICT, multimedia and broadcasting
    services on converged networks for enhanced service delivery to provide
    superior experience to customers.

  11. Optimize transmission of services to consumers
    irrespective of their devices or locations by Fixed-Mobile Convergence thus
    making available valuable spectrum for other wireless services.

  12. Facilitate consolidation in the converged telecom service
    sector while ensuring sufficient competition.

  13. Mandate an eco system to ensure setting up of a common 16
    YOJANA November 2011 platform for interconnection of various networks for
    providing non-exclusive and non-discriminatory access.

  14. Promote an eco system for participants in VAS industry
    value chain to make India a global hub for Value Added Services (VAS).

  15. Ensure adequate availability of spectrum and its
    allocation in a transparent manner through market related processes. Make
    available additional 300MHz spectrum for International Mobile Telephony (IMT)
    services by the year 2017 and another 200MHz by 2020.

  16. Strengthen the framework to address the environmental and
    health related concerns pertaining to the telecom sector.

  17. Encourage adoption of green policy in telecom and
    incentives use of renewable resources for sustainability.

  18. Protect consumer interest by promoting informed consent,
    transparency and accountability in quality of service, tariff, usage etc.

  19. Encourage recognition and creation of synergistic
    alliance of public sector and other organisations of Department of
    Telecommunications (DoT) through appropriate policy interventions.

  20. Achieve substantial transition to new Internet Protocol (IPv
    6) in the country in a phased and time bound manner by 2020 and encourage an
    ecosystem for provision of a significantly large bouquet of services on IP
    platform.

  21. Put in place a web based, real time e-governance solution
    to support online submission of applications for all services of DoT and
    issuance of licences and clearances from DoT

How will it benefit mobile users?

Users will not have to pay roaming charges and mobile number
portability will be available nationwide. The policy envisages a `one nation-one
license’ regime. Companies will not have to apply for separate licences in every
circle/service area and users will not have to pay roaming charges. A single
license will do across all the 22 service areas in the country. The policy will
allow mobile operators to share, pool and trade spectrum. Spectrum will in fact,
be delinked from licences in future and priced atmarket value. In the existing
policy, start up spectrumof 4.4MHz is bundled with the licence.

How will it affect service providers and operators?

The department of telecommunications (DoT) will unveil an
exit policy for operators. It has been referred to the Telecom Regulatory
Authority of India (TRAI) for formulation. That should aid consolidation in the
industry, which has 12.13 players in each circle. DoT will also seek TRAI
recommendations on the new licensing framework and migration of licences. An
additional 300MHz of spectrum will be made available by 2017 and another 200MHz
by 2020. The telecom sectionwill get infrastructure status under the new policy.

The Communication and Information Technology Ministry will
ensure adequate availability of spectrum and its allocation in transparent
manner through market-related processes. It will prepare a roadmap for the
availability of additional spectrum every five years. DoT had started work on
the new telecom policy 2011 from January this year in the wake of the 2G
spectrum allocation controversy. It is feared that operators battling intense
competition and low tariffs will be hit by the end of roaming charges. According
to industry estimates, roaming charges account for eight percent of telecom
players’ revenues

What are the key features of the draft NTP 2011?

The policy unveiled against the backdrop of the series of
scams involving politicians as well as top executives of the telecom companies,
is set to focus on transparency and quick decision in the sector. One of the key
features of theNTP-2011 could be the strengthening of the grievance redress
mechanism for telephone users by giving ample power to the Telecom Regulatory
Authority of India (TRAI). A separate cell is likely to be created under the
TRAI where subscribers could file complaints if they are not happy with the
response of customer care cells of their operators. The TRAI will be empowered
to penalise guilty operators for not addressing subscriber complaints.
Currently, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has the authority of imposing
penalties on the telecom, while TRAI can give its recommendations on penalties
or termination of licence, and the final decision rests with the DoT. Aimed at
cleaning up and rejuvenating the sector, the new policy is expected to help
attract more foreign investors to the country and plug the digital divide. The
new policy will also propose to give infrastructure tag to telecom sector -which
would entail tax concessions – so that more investment flows in.

Q. CAPART & NGO

CAPART, The Council for Advancement of People’s Action and
Rural Technology, has played an important role in facilitating the process of
development in rural India through nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). CAPART
is an autonomous body registered in 1986 under the aegis of the Ministry of
Rural Development, Govt. of India. The vision of CAPART is to play a catalytic
role so as to strengthen the voluntary movement in the country and to facilitate
the promotion of innovative rural technologies. For the last 25 years, CAPART
has been serving as a catalyst for developmental initiatives in rural areas,
strengthening and encouraging NGOs, VOs and CBOs to contribute in the betterment
of rural areas. CAPART has been implementing many innovative development
projects under different schemes through a strong network of government and
non-government organizations to reach all rural areas specially the backward
areas of rural India.

Vision and Mission of CAPART

  • The Vision of CAPART is to play a dynamic and catalytic
    role with the various governmental agencies and NGOs, influence public
    policy and contribute its share towards the many-sided development of India.

  • The Mission of CAPART is to work in close coordination
    with the rural NGOs and empower them by

  • Engaging them in dialogue

  • Respecting their thoughts and ideas

  • Listening to their voice

  • Harnessing their resources

  • Funding their activities

  • Strengthening their hands, particularly the women, the
    weaker sections of rural society and the disabled and other underprivileged
    sections of rural society.

  • Walking hand-in-hand with them on the road to rural
    prosperity.

Schemes of CAPART to Support NGOs in Rural Areas

In order to address the issues of rural development, as per
its mandate, CAPART has supported different projects under its schemes which may
generically be grouped as follows:

Public Cooperation (PC)

Public Cooperation Scheme is one of the popular and important
schemes of CAPART by virtue of its multi-dimensional approach. The purpose of
the Scheme is to involve the community in designing, planning, implementation,
monitoring, evaluation and maintenance of assets created under the projects. The
activities under the Scheme focus on the differently advantaged sections of the
rural community, with a view to promote and strengthen SHGs, to build their
skills through training and to facilitate production of goods as well as their
marketability. Exposure of the rural community to appropriate technologies
through capacity building is being considered as an inbuilt component of the
Public Cooperation Scheme. Projects under this Scheme are implemented through
NGOs.

Advancement of Rural Technology Scheme (ARTS)

The Memorandum of Association of the CAPART enunciates that
the Council’s vision is to “play a dynamic and catalytic role with the various
governmental agencies and NGOs, influence public policy and contribute its share
towards the multi dimensional development of Rural India”. The following are the
thrust areas under ARTS scheme which CAPART implement through NGOs in the rural
areas.

  • To strengthen existing institutions of research and
    develop or set up institutions, so as to develop national level institutions
    on matters of rural interest.

  • To act as a catalyst for development of technology
    appropriate for the rural areas, by identifying and funding research and
    development efforts and pilot projects by different agencies and
    institutions, particularly voluntary organizations.

  • To act as a conduit for transfer of appropriate
    technology to Government Departments, public sector undertaking, voluntary
    agencies and members of public to encourage adoption of modern techniques
    and appropriate technology in rural development.

  • To collaborate with other institutions, associations and
    societies in India or abroad including concerned international
    agencies-constituents of the U.N. system interested in similar objects.

  • To create awareness amongst rural people and provide a
    series of escort services to them through the NGOs on matters relating to
    Intellectual Property Right (IPR) issues in the context of WTO and assist
    them by protecting their knowledge-base, time honoured inherent and patent
    rights and all matters connected therewith. The goals and focused areas of
    this scheme, implemented through NGOs are: –

  • Community Based Rehabilitation Projects (CBR) based on
    local conditions and cultures which enable the expansion of CBR coverage as
    an important means of achieving equalization of opportunities for people
    with disabilities in rural areas.

  • CAPART has recognized seven established organizations in
    the field as Facilitation Centres for aiding the CBR programme.

  • Elimination of attitudinal, cultural and physical
    barriers, which limit the access of rural people with disabilities to
    facilities, services, information and development programme in the rural
    areas, is one of the key objectives of the Disability Action Scheme
    Administered by CAPART.

  • To bridge the gap between corporate sector and social
    sector CAPART, in collaboration with CII attempted to establish an
    interactive platform for dialogue between NGOs and other corporate funding
    organizations so as to provide good opportunities to NGOs and Corporate to
    show common interest to expedite the development process at grass root level
    and meet the objectives of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR);

  • CAPART has attempted to institutionalize and formulate
    the framework to estimate the level of potential for CAPART’s project to
    align with Government of India’s National Action Plan forClimate Change (NAPCC).
    The focuswas to develop appropriate guidelines and practitioner’s tool-kit
    for appraisal and approach so as to align climate response with CDM in the
    current and proposed areas of intervention for CAPART. The purpose was to
    disseminate the findings to NGOs who may adopt the toolkit and approach to
    avail of carbon credits;

  • CAPART has institutionalized and developed the frame work
    and norms for holding Gram Shree Melas;

  • CAPART has formulated action plans to identify NGOs for
    Scouting, documentation/ validation and patenting/piloting and up-scaling of
    rural technologies and innovations;

  • Through DST assisted workshops, CAPART has analyzed the
    perceived needs of the local areas for rural technological interventions
    through local S&T network;

  • CAPART also promotes studies on the current issues of the
    third sector;

  • CAPART has lately initiated comprehensive IT web based
    applications for its stakeholders, namely NGOs and within the organization.

Process of Implementation

NGOs which intend to take up projects from CAPART have to
submit detailed project proposal in the prescribed format along with
organizational profile. The proposals should be need based and beneficiary
oriented. It is mandatory that the category wise list of beneficiaries is
mentioned properly in the proposal. The proposals are scrutinized and after
fulfilling the criteria laid down in the policy guideline these proposals are
subjected to pre funding appraisal by external institutional monitors to assess
the feasibility of the proposal. CAPART has a three tier system ofmonitoring and
evaluation for different project proposals supported by CAPART. All projects are
subject to Pre Funding, Mid Term and Post Evaluation by empanelled institutional
monitors to review the physical and financial achievements under the projects.

To improve and adopt a more transparent system in the
Council, CAPART has taken an initiative to adopt an online application system
for submission of proposals whereby the NGOs have been encouraged to submit
their viable project proposals online. An NGO is to be registered with the NGO –
Portal System and then submit their proposal for support. This system is
expected to facilitate the local NGOs to obtain the latest status of their
project proposal online.

Conclusion

The relevance of the voluntary sector has been widely
acknowledged by policy planners. Since its inception, CAPART has supported
nearly 27,000 projects and 12,000 NGOs across the country. Some of the NGOs
which were supported by CAPART in their nascent stage have demonstrated their
presence in policy making and in developing unique strategies for delivering
services and benefits in the rural areas. NGOs are also playing an important
role in creating awareness amongst the rural masses with respect to various
flagship development progammes of the government, through advocacy,
dissemination of information as well as sensitization of the rural population.


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