Higher Education

Social sector spending to strengthen IT in India

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A study by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and consultancy Eanst and Young ( E&Y) has emphasised on the need of a potential and vibrant use of technology in education, rural employment and power reforms in India. The government's Unique ID (UID) project has attracted a lot of attention among vendors locally and globally. However, less publicised social sector programmes such as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) in education and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) for rural employment also have significant technology spends. “The three flagship schemes – SSA, NREGS and Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (APDRP) – could alone generate $1 billion in revenues,” said Milan Sheth, partner, Business Advisory Services, E&Y.

The penetration of ICT (information, communication and technology) in Indian schools is currently only 17%, and there is a specific allocation of Rs 5,000 crore to improve use of technology and communication in education. In addition, technology can also be used to overcome many of the challenges being faced in the education sector and in implementing programmes like the SSA to universalise elementary education by 2010. Under the Eleventh Five Year Plan, the outlay for education is Rs 2,70,000 crore and E&Y estimates that around 3-4% of social sector outlays are spent on ICT, both directly and indirectly. The potential opportunity for IT vendors in this sector can include virtual universities, telecentres for education, and even biometric technologies.

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