NEWS-INDIA: Naidu calls for ending VSNL's "bottleneck" monopoly

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  • Subject: NEWS-INDIA: Naidu calls for ending VSNL's "bottleneck" monopoly
  • From: Frederick Noronha <fred at bytesforall dot org>
  • Date: Fri, 8 Dec 2000 23:33:20 +0530
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    • Naidu calls for ending VSNL's "bottleneck" monopoly
      from India Abroad News Service
      New Delhi, Dec 8 - Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandra Babu Naidu on
      Friday termed the monopoly status of the state-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam
      Limited the "biggest bottleneck" to the growth of communications
      infrastructure in the country.
      Inaugurating the 'wbconline' website of the Federation of Indian Chambers of
      Commerce and Industry Ladies Organization (FLO) via a videoconference from
      Hyderabad, Naidu said, "The VSNL monopoly should go immediately. I have been
      demanding an end to its monopoly for the last five years."
      Through the online women's business council, the FLO will strive to help
      women entrepreneurs resolve the problems that confront them in carrying out
      their business.
      While India's strength in the information technology (IT) sector lies in
      software development, the country's weakness lay in the hardware sector,
      Naidu said.
      Emphasizing the need to speedily build the telecommunications
      infrastructure, Naidu said India may "well be in danger of losing out on a
      lot of opportunities."
      Only by ending the VSNL monopoly, Naidu said, will the private sector be
      encouraged to invest more in the development of communications
      infrastructure, making room for "leapfrog development, accountability,
      speediness and faster response to the people's needs."
      According to the government's latest schedule, the VSNL monopoly is to end
      by April 2002.
      "We are planning to provide Internet access in Andhra Pradesh to the
      remotest villages in 18 months," said Naidu. To provide for better distance
      learning, the state government is planning to have satellite links to the
      remote villages. While English is widely used in the state, Andhra Pradesh
      is trying to develop Telugu software for better reach.
      While agreeing that basic facilities like drinking water and healthcare are
      of vital need, Naidu maintained that the Internet could ease the process of
      delivering small but vital services to the villages at a faster pace. More
      importantly, it would provide a voice to the rural women in the state who
      through their own initiative are today able to mobilize Rs 8 billion.
      Referring to the remarkable growth of the Development of Women and Child in
      Rural Areas (DWCRA) groups in the state, Naidu said the organization
      currently has around 350,000 members who are selling over 450 products at
      the district level markets. Once they have access to the Internet, it would
      be earlier for them to sell their products and get better remuneration.
      On the issue of empowerment of women, Naidu voiced full support for the
      Women's Reservation Bill and expressed the hope that it would be passed by
      Parliament during its ongoing winter session.