In order to bridge the gaps of the digital divide in the country, the government is planning to launch 1000 digital villages along with virtual classrooms and health rooms by end of this year.
“ By this year-end, we are going to launch 1,000 digital villages which will be smart villages powered by a dynamic collector. And the idea is to have solar power, where I have requested Piyush to work closely with me. Then virtual classroom, virtual health room. That is how we are changing the whole digital infrastructure,” said Ravi Shanker Prasad, Law & Justice, Information Technology Minister of India at ET Startup Awards. He also appealed startups to join the movement with their innovative ideas.
“I want new startups to come up with new ideas, pick up 10-20 villages for digital education, for digital health,” he added.
Prasad claimed that the government has laid optical fibre in 2,10,000 and almost one lakh gram panchayats have been linked. The government emphasized that they would by the middle of 2018, are going to link the rest of the villages under the programme.
Last month, the government had cleared the second phase of BharatNet. Through the BharatNet initiative, the govt aims to bridge the digital divide in rural and remote areas by providing affordable broadband at a minimum speed of 100 Mbps.
However, BharatNet was started in 2012, the project aimed to cover 2.5 lakh gram panchayats by the end of 2016, but due to failed testing and inadequate equipment, the deadline was pushed back to March 2019.
Earlier in 2014, the government had also committed Rs 100 crores for virtual classroom and MOOCs (Massive Online Open Course). Virtual classroom means that a teacher will deliver his lecture and his lecture will be seen in every school if the virtual classroom is set up in other schools.
Virtual classroom to see the reality, it has to come over greater importance given to degrees than knowledge and skills. More so, at present, a lack of accreditation and acceptance of online courses is still a problem.
When asked about lack of skilled manpower in India for startups, the minister said that the government is trying to give govt own project, Skill India, scale and improve the facilities that are provided for skill development and sought startups participations in it.