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Mukesh Ambani to invest Rs 250,000 crore for ‘Digital India’

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MUMBAI: The country’s telecom giants have committed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious plan to connect 2.5 lakh villages across India by 2019 at the launch of ‘Digital India Week’ in New Delhi.

Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani began his address stating how, for the first time, the government, which usually lags behind industries, has taken a step ahead of them by conceiving ‘Digital India’. “Historically, the industry has moved faster than government in India, but with the ‘Digital India’ scheme, the government has overtaken the industry,” he said.

“The youth today aspires for merit based opportunities and progress which ‘Digital India’ will ensure them and we at Reliance Industries commit to achieving that goal with an investment of Rs 250,000 crore,” Ambani announced.

Addressing the infrastructure aspect, Ambani revealed his plans to create an all IP next generation wireless broadband infrastructure across all 29 states in India. Secondly, Reliance Jio will set up a nationwide distribution network that will enable 150,000 small electronic retailers to sell and service smartphones and internet devices.

Not just that, Reliance Jio is in talks with leading device manufacturers to invite them to make smartphones and internet devices at an affordable rate in India. “We will give them assured off-take from our retail system,” said Ambani, who stressed that his company is committed to make necessary investment and strongly partner with central and state government on e-governance, and other services that ‘Digital India’ will provide.

Though Mukesh Ambani set quite high standards for investors in their contribution to ‘Digital India,’ others who followed him didn’t fail to make their promises worth looking forward to.

Take his brother Anil Ambani for example.  While most of the business leaders focused on manufacturing and infrastructure to penetrate in the remote areas, Anil Ambani addressed an important aspect of ‘Digital India’: a paper-free India powered by a gigantic database.

“A crucial prerequisite to Digital India’s success is the availability of unlimited cloud computing power, whose building block is a digital database of the mission,” pointed out Anil Ambani.

Reliance Group is the largest provider of data center facility, with its 11 data center connected by India’s largest terrestrial fiber network and world’s largest submarine cable structure, which Anil Ambani plans to double to 1.2 million sq ft in two years.

The Reliance Group chairman also announced a first of its kind initiative -- five fully operational cloud exchange points. “Each of these will give government departments 240 times the computing power currently available to their data centers and their efficiency  will scale up 100 per cent in every 90 days, as ‘Digital India’ will gather momentum,” he said, followed by an investment promise of Rs10,000 crore to the project.

Bharati Airtel too assured a ‘meaningful contribution’. Bharati Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharati Mittal said, “We at Airtel are fully committed to stand by the government’s revolutionary initiative in the digital space. We plan to invest in excess of Rs 100, 000 crore or USD 16 billion in infrastructure in rural and urban regions alike. We also plan to make 4G available to the masses.”

Mittal hailed Modi as a ‘digitally native man’ and the right person to lead India in this digital revolution. He also mentioned about Bharati Enterprises’ active involvement in promoting eHealth in villages and also collaborate with manufacturers to start making devices and services within India.

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