Monday, April 02, 2007

Call of the village

Hindu Businessline writes how companies are flocking to rural India and I couldn't agree more. A few weeks back I was at BR Hills. And the surprising thing was that the cell connection which worked, was, not BSNL - they on the other side of the rural/urban divide, but Airtel.

While the Government has said it is willing to cough up as much as Rs 1,000 crore over a five-year period to companies willing to set up shop in these villages, cellular firms such as Reliance Communications, Hutchison Essar, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Idea Cellular have put in zero bids, which means operators are willing to offer cellular services in remote rural India without any subsidy from the Government.

Bharti Airtel has gone a step beyond and quoted negative bids, which means that the company is prepared to give money to the Government instead of taking support from the USO fund.

Elsewhere it says, Bharti Airtel, for instance, has adopted the `match-box approach' which essentially will ensure Airtel's availability wherever a match-box is available, even in the smallest and remotest corners of the country. "The other key initiative is our `Chapa Chapa' approach which supports our objective of reaching out to all towns with a population of less than 5,000. We believe that the next level of growth will happen from these geographies," says a Bharti Airtel spokesperson.

Growth or not, the cellphone will be the vehicle of prosperity of the rural areas as it has been in the rural areas- yes, roads will help, but Airtel cannot build roads and villagers will find out ways of getting progress to themselves. More power to initiatives like these.

I have held in the past that corporate India is a better bet to get India on the right path to progress than the government.

No comments: