Kerala the most literate state in India, has just declared Internet access as a basic right for every citizen just like food, education and water. The state budget has unveiled a project, which aims to provide internet connections free of cost to 20 lakh poor families and at subsidised rates to others.
While this is a step in the right direction, the United Nations recommends that every country should make access to internet a Fundamental human right as well. Basic human rights are separate from Fundamental rights, which are granted by the Indian constitution.
In this increasingly digital age, where the government is on a mission to move towards a cashless economy and promote e-governance and digitisation, access to Internet is absolutely essential.The government of Kerala has understood the fact that without basic access to the Internet, all digitisation initiatives will prove fruitless.
On the eve of the announcement, Finance Minister Thomas Issac said, “Internet will now become a right for the people and within 18 months the internet gateway would be set up through the K phone network at a cost of one billion Rupees.”
Additionally, Mr Issac said that the project would make internet access the right of every citizen and the state would provide easy access to both government and non government services through computers and mobile phones.
To facilitate the same, a new optical fibre network, dubbed ‘K-Fon’ has been proposed which would be created parallel to the existing KSEB electric power network at a cost of 1,000 crore. The project is estimated to take 18 months to complete.
The project would also involve the creation of WiFi transmission centres at government offices, public places, libraries, Akshaya centres and Janasevana Kendras.
“It is estimated that by 2017 to 18, almost all government transactions will become IT based. Thus the right to basic Internet facility will become a prerequisite for providing civic services universally through the electronic medium,” Mr. Isaac said.
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