Nearly two years after coming to power, the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab is all set to implement a key poll promise of distributing smartphones among the youth of the state.
Nearly two years after coming to power, the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab is all set to implement a key poll promise of distributing smartphones among the youth of the state. The state cabinet Wednesday approved the modalities for the distribution of smartphones, with graduating students of government schools, colleges and technical institutions to be covered in the first phase of the scheme, an official spokesperson said here. Students would be required to submit a self-certification, stating that they do not already possess a smartphone.
The scheme will give a further impetus to the state government’s digital empowerment agenda, he said. In addition, one-time bundled 12 GB data and 600 local minutes talk time (voice) valid for one year would also be provided under the scheme, the official said. The vendor to implement the scheme shall be selected through an open transparent bidding process, for which the tender document has already been floated by the Punjab Information and Communication Technology Corporation, he said, adding that vendors would be on board within a period of about two months, and the first batch of phones is expected to be distributed in March.
Notably, the move comes barely months before the Lok Sabha polls and despite a financial crunch facing the state. Opposition parties had in the past attacked the Amarinder Singh government over its “failure” to keep its key poll promise made to the youth.
In a bid to woo the youth of the state, the then Punjab Congress chief Singh had in 2016 announced that 50 lakh smartphones would be given with one year of free data and calling to the youth in the state to empower them and connect them digitally if the Congress came to power. According to the spokesperson, the cabinet also authorised the chief minister to finalise the name of the scheme, besides authorising the chairman of the committee for procurement and distribution of smartphones to make changes in the Request For Proposal (RFP) as may be required in the future.