Advocacy remains our primary focus, always with a long term sustainable outlook. The first such project was undertaken  in the Turn of Century where it strated with an advocacy to bridge the Digital divide & bring telephone to easy reah of the people, especially in the rural areas was  undertekn by an NGO. But soon it translated  into a big time project where on the conceptualisd note of the NGO Grammen Sanchar , both the State & the Central Government came together, brushing aside the ideological difference. 

The Grameen Sanchar or popularly known as Grasso, project was one such one like Drishti in Bihar & NLogue in the South whcih were the ealry days ICT projects at the turn of the century. Grammen was one of the  first such big time advocacy project was Inclusive telephone project where many of the later day FFIFS resources came together and started the Rural PCO - public call office project under the Grameen Sanchar Model. This project involved in bringing together the IT ministry of the Union Government, the West Bengal government It ministry, the Youth Welfare dpertment, BSNL - the then number One telephone company in the country, the banks like SBI & Union Bank of India, ICICI Bank, IIT Khargpur as knowledge partner & many partner vendors like HLL, Tata Motors, Firodias to name a few. It spanned all districts of the West Bengal state, from the foothills of Kachanjegha in the Himalaya's to the Sagar Island  in the South in the Bay of Bengal. At least 50,000 beneficiaries were served with portable WLL PCOs which were used on a bicycle for roaming the rural junction points & remotest vlllages, the river ghats, ferry crossings and sometimes in Sunderban areas in the forest was used on the ferry boats along with people crossing on them. 

In the later stages of the project in line with the  Mission 2007 project's call " Every Village a Knowledge Centre"  it  stepped on the  concept of Services centre  much in common with the rural telecentres model, but with a much extended form and style in ICT services. It was called CITC -   the Citizens Information & Training later days It was called the Citizens Services Centres and relabelled as Common Services Centres, as one of the pillars of the National eGovernanace project.In West Bengal it was the first time that such ICT Centres were opened up to make ICT awareness,ICT training plus data services for the general people. These centres were later subsumed as CSCs under the nationall IT mission projects. But in a way these 400 odd centres in the state under self  employment promotion scheme was the first orgnaised shining PPP project undertaken by a NGO, in partnership with so many giants like Microsoft, IBM, HP to name a few prominent ones.

The Impact :  The total project provided  direct self - employment to more than 10,000 youths including women under the various schemes. But looking at the massive success of the WLL telephone connectivity that empowered a village to access a telephone connectivity, which was hitherto could only be possible in extreme cases by travelling 18 km distance created a solid busienss case that inclusive telephony was a well founded busiens proposition and people were willing to pay a price for the same. Rest of it was history and soon this model was replicated everywhere and with liberalised licensing norms India became the fastest growing uptaker after China. And as a result  2004 onwards when teledensity in the country was a poor 4%, it  rapidily rose and the telephone operators in its many manifestation usherd in a massive change in the rural telephone penetration scenario. Soon along with the voice, sms started to flow in and later day from 2005-06 when the data strom started brewing the cravings for telecentres & training in ICT & basic courses started growing. In those days it was the first such foray into the world of internet proliferation.

This project was widely discussed and stalwarts from all across the world, whether IIM Ahemdabad or from Columbia University in the US, people came to see for the first hand in deep interior how the village lide was transforming. It was at one point such a craving news that national English news channel & local Bengali news channel all vied with the other & given a huge live coverage of the impact from the deep interior of the scenes where village women were waiting in long queues to speak to their husbands or sons calling home. For the first time BSNL allowed reverse incoming call charges to be collected for the same.

The Grameen Sanchar telephone project was a truly transformative project in its true sense because it was a state wide project where BSNL & other big players came together to pave the way for the ICT Super highway, on which the future ICT framewrok and NeGP project was designed.                                   

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