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Last updated: March 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm

Kerala Becomes 1st Indian State To Declare Internet As Basic Right For Every Citizen; 20 Lakh Citizens To Get Free Internet

State of Kerala WiFi

Kerala, the most literate state in India, has made a very sensible, and practical decision regarding access of Internet; something which can be described as a watershed moment for India’s digital policy.

Kerala has just declared access of Internet as a basic right for every citizen, just like water, food and education. Such basic human rights should not be confused with Fundamental Rights, which Indian constitution provides for all Indians. However, as per UN, Internet is counted as a basic human right, and they have suggested that every country should include it as a fundamental human right as well.

Most probably, Kerala has just taken the first step in that direction.

Kerala has understood that if digitisation and e-Governance needs to be spread, then access to Internet is the most crucial element, because unless people have access to basic Internet, how will they use the fruits of technology?

Kerala Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said, “It is estimated that by 2017-18, 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,”

20 Lakh Keralites To Get Free Internet

And, it is not just talks here – some concrete action has been planned as well, which will ensure that the basic right of all Keralites is met.

Govt. has announced plans to provide free basic Internet facility to 20 lakh citizens across the state, and plans to extend broadband connectivity to every household in the state.

The project, named as K-Fon, has been announced, which will establish optical fiber cables across the state and would be laid parallel to Kerala State Electricity Board towers, all across the state.

M Sivasankar, secretary, department of electronics and information technology said, “The government’s idea will be to deliver internet connectivity with a limited bandwidth to individual households through an optic fibre network to be established parallel to the distribution network of the KSEB..”

K-Fon has been planned in a manner which will enable free access to Internet via WiFi hotspots at ‘Akshaya centres, Janasevana Kendras, government offices, libraries, and public places’. A sum of Rs 1000 crore has been allocated for the same, and the project is expected to be completed in 18 months.

Some other major announcements from the Kerala Govt. include:

  • 12 hardware manufacturing parks would be established in the state, to make Kerala a hub of IT and ITeS niches
  • Japanese-Korean industrial cluster would be established at Mavoor
  • Rs 549 crore allocated for the creation of IT parks, Technoparks, SEZs, Infoparks, Cyberparks and Techno-Lodges
  • Kerala State Govt. will provide financial help and mentorship to 1500 startups from the state

This year, Kerala Govt. created a new benchmark for other states, when they saved Rs 300 crore by using Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) in all schools in the state.

Do you think that other states, and even Central Govt. should also declare access to Internet as a basic right for every citizen? Should Internet be included in our Fundamental Rights as well? Do let us know by commenting right here!

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