Internet declared a citizen's right for 34 million Indians

State of Kerala turns on WiFi network, promises to fund 1,500 startups and grow 175k IT jobs

The Indian State of Kerala, home to 34 million people, has declared its citizens have a right to internet access.

The State's budget speech (PDF), delivered last week by finance minister Dr. T.M. Thomas lsaac, included provisions for “free internet connections … provided to 20 lakh [two million - Ed] poor families. For others, internet service will be provided at a lower rate.”

Dr. Isaac aded “Thus Kerala is poised to become one of the rare regimes where internet facility will be the right of a citizen.”

The State's not being entirely altruistic: it plans to move almost all government services online by next year. “Thus, the right for basic internet facility will become a prerequisite for providing civic services universally through electronic medium,” Dr. Isaac said.

Internet service will be delivered over WiFi at “Government offices, libraries, and public places under the control of Government” and will be made possible by the rollout of a fibre optic network piggybacking on electrification projects around the State.

Kerala's also going to have a tilt at IT industries, with the budget including funds for eight technology parks expected to produce 175,000 jobs. The State also plans to fund 1,500 startups and encourage new manufacturing industries.

Kerala's the thirteenth-largest economy among India's 29 states, but is remote from India's centres of business and government and has grown slower than other states. These new initiatives are therefore hoped to boost the State's economy as well as connect citizens with government services. ®

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