“The Ministry of Communications has established itself as a core enabling unit of the Government of India, driving the country’s socio-economic development during the last four years by providing strong digital connectivity support and delivering citizen-centric services – in the true spirit of “Saaf Neeyat, Sahi Vikas””, said Shri Manoj Sinha, Minister of State for Communications (Independent Charge).
The Minister was addressing members of the press and media at a press conference today, held to mark the completion of 4 years of the present Government at the Centre. Smt. Aruna Sundararajan, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and Shri Ananta Narayan Nanda, Secretary, Department of Posts (DoP) joined the Minister on the dais, as he summarised the highlights and achievements of the Ministry of Communications over the last 4 years.
“Our biggest achievements in the area of Telecommunications have been – overcoming the pervasive trust deficit through transparent auctions of spectrum, and bridging the digital divide in the country by undertaking digital infrastructure projects such as BharatNet on an unprecedented scale”, said Shri Sinha. “And in the Department of Posts, we have successfully managed to re-imagine the business of the department – with focus on financial inclusion, provision of citizen-centric services using our unmatched reach, and restructuring our operations to meet evolving customer needs”, he added.
The Telecom sector has witnessed revolutionary changes over the last 4 years:
Six-fold increase in Government spending on telecommunications infrastructure and services in the country – from Rs. 9,900 crores between 2009-14, to Rs. 60,000 crores (actual + planned) between 2014-19
Increase in overall tele-density from 75% to 93%
Over 75% increase in internet coverage – from 251 million users to 446 million
Number of mobile Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) more than doubled – from 7.9 lakh to nearly 18 lakh
Country-wide Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) coverage doubled – from 7 lakh km to 14 lakh km
Steep tariff reductions benefiting consumers across the country – Average voice tariff declined by 67%, and Average data tariff declined by 93%
Seven times growth in broadband access – from 61 million to 412 million subscribers
Five-fold jump in FDI inflows in the Telecom Sector – from USD 1.3 Billion in 2015-16, to USD 6.1 Billion in 2017-18 (upto December 2017)
The Prime Minister’s motto of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” finds reflection in the Department of Telecom’s efforts to Connect the Unconnected – through rural digital infrastructure projects such as BharatNet, as well as through projects for the North-East Region, Left-Wing Extremism (LWE) Affected Areas, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Lakshadweep.
The Department has also taken proactive steps to move the country to the forefront on the global stage in this technology-driven sector. “We missed the 3G and 4G buses”, said the Minister; “but 5G is a bus we cannot afford to miss”. Proactive engagement, planning, and investment have been initiated to leverage new technologies for the welfare of citizens. A High-Level Forum (HLF) for 5G India has been set up; a 5G test bed is being established through budgetary support; and a progressive and forward-looking Draft National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) 2018 is already in the public domain, setting aspirational targets to guide the department over the next few years.
In these 4 years, the Department of Posts has initiated transformative changes which aim to radically alter the face of Post Offices in the country. From a ‘stagnating business growth’ situation, the Department has now moved to successfully launch citizen-centric services which leverage its’ unique strengths – unmatched country-wide reach, and strong trust of the people, especially in non-metro areas.
A summary of the key highlights and achievements of the DoP in the last 4 years:
Average annual Speed Post revenue more than doubled – from Rs. 788 crores between 2006-14 to Rs. 1682 crores between 2014-18
Revenue of Rs. 415 crores from the eCommerce business in 2017-18, with a growth of more than 20% over the previous financial year
Established a separate Parcel Directorate, in order to focus on this growing business segment
Geared up to launch the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB), with 650 branches co-located in District HQ Post Offices, offering a 360-degree financial services suite across multiple channels – to benefit the unbanked and under-banked
995 DoP ATMs are now inter-operable with other Banks; since December 2016, 1.85 crore transactions have been carried out on these ATMs
More than 1.18 crore Sukanya Samriddhi accounts opened in Post Offices across the country, of a total of 1.30 crore accounts across all banks
Aadhar Enrolment & Updation Centres have been made functional in 13,150+ Post Offices across the country in just 7 months; more than 7 lakh enrolments and updates have already been completed in these centres
213 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSKs) started across the country in collaboration with the Ministry of External Affairs – to provide passport services to citizens within 50 KMs of their place of residence; more than ten lakh passport appointments have already been processed in these POPSKs
Postal Life Insurance (PLI) and Rural Postal Life Insurance (RPLI) – insurance products from the DoP, with the unique feature of ‘low premium, high bonus’; renewed drive to extend the benefits of these products to promote financial inclusion in the country
Benefits of Postal Life Insurance (PLI) are no longer limited to Government and Semi-Government employees; this facility is now also available to professionals (teachers, lawyers, engineers, doctors, CAs) and employees of listed companies of NSE and BSE
Under Sampoorna Bima Gram Yojana, at least one person insured from each household in 1,244 villages nation-wide; 10,000 villages targeted by March 2019
The PLI and RPLI business is now being carved into an independent SBU within DoP, to leverage the potential of insuring the uninsured
A philately scholarship scheme called Deen Dayal SPARSH (Scholarship for Promotion of Aptitude & Research in Stamps as a Hobby) Yojana was introduced in November, 2017 to promote Philately among children; under the scheme, 920 scholarships will be given every year to school-children who demonstrate interest in philately
An average 56% increase in the wages and allowances of GDSs, benefitting more than 2.60 lakh GDSs and their families
Technology investments in the Department more than doubled – from Rs. 434 crores between 2010-14 to more than Rs. 1,000 crores between 2014-18
More than 62,000 SIM based handheld devices are in use by Gramin Dak Sewaks in Branch Post Offices, to ensure financial inclusion of the unbanked rural population by making available financial and postal services on a digital platform; target to extend this coverage to all 1.30 lakh Branch Post Offices in the country by end-2018
More than 3 crore transactions have been carried out through these devices so far, amounting to Rs. 3,800 crores
Postman mobile application has been introduced to update the delivery information of accountable mail, including cash on delivery, on a real time basis
“Both the Departments continue to be focused on acting as catalysts – to take the benefits of a rapidly developing India to the remotest corners of our country, championing the cause of the Government’s flagship programs such as Digital India and Financial Inclusion. In these endeavours, we will continue to be guided and inspired by the face of the last person in the queue of development, and strive to make a difference to his/her life, in line with Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s philosophy of Antyoday”, concluded Shri Sinha.