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PIB – 23 November 2021





Focus: GS II- Government Policies and Interventions

Why in News?

Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) scheme for provisioning of 4G-based mobile services in uncovered villages of aspirational districts across five states — Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, and Odisha.

  • NITI Aayog’s Aspirational Districts programme aims to quickly and effectively transform 112 most under-developed districts across the country.
  • It seeks to fulfill the vision of Digital India promoting domestic manufacturing and fulfilling the objectives of Atmanirbhar Bharat etc.

What is the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)?

  • The Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was established with the primary objective of providing access to ‘Basic’ telecom services to people in the remote and rural areas at reasonable and affordable prices.
  • USOF ensures that there is universal non-discriminatory access to quality ICT (Information and Communications Technology) services at economically efficient prices to people in rural and remote areas.
  • It was created under the Ministry of Communications in 2002.
  • It is a non-lapsable fund, i.e., the unspent amount under a targeted financial year does not lapse and is accrued for next years’ spending.
  • All credits to this fund require parliamentary approval and it has statutory support under Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003.
  • Universal Service stands for universal, interdependent and intercommunicating, affording the opportunity for any subscriber to any exchange to communicate with any other subscriber of any other exchange.
  • Subsequently, the scope was widened to provide subsidy support for enabling access to all types of telegraph services including mobile services, broadband connectivity, and creation of infrastructure like Optical Fiber Cable (OFC) in rural and remote areas.
  • With access to affordable telecom services in remote and rural areas, the USOF is the right step towards stemming urban migration. This would ensure to generate employment opportunities in the rural areas which would help generate more income.

The USOF proposes to meet its social, economic, political and constitutional objectives which are as follows:

  • To extend the telecommunication network.
  • To stimulate the uptake of Internet and Communication Technologies (ICT) services.
  • To bring the underserved and unserved areas of the country into the telecom spectrum and narrow down the access gap.
  • To use the pooled USO levy for an equitable distribution through target subsidies.
Who are the partners of USOF?

As per the Department of Telecommunications, there are 24 partners of USOF. It includes:

  • Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited
  • Tata Tele Services Limited
  • Reliance Communications Limited
  • Vodafone
  • Bharti Airtel Limited, etc.


Focus: GS II- Government Policies and Interventions

Why in News?

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space launched India’s first Virtual Science Lab for children under CSIR Jigyasa programme, which will also connect students with scientists across the country.

About Jigyasa programme

  • “JIGYASA” is one of the major initiatives taken up by CSIR at national level for further widening and deepening its Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR).
  • It is a student – scientist connect programme launched by the Government of India in 2017.
  • The programme would be implemented by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in collaboration with Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).
  • The focus of this scheme is on connecting school students and scientists so as to extend student’s classroom learning with well-planned research laboratory based learning.
  • The objective is extending the classroom leaning and focusing on a well planned research laboratory based learning.
  • ‘JIGYASA’ would inculcate the culture of inquisitiveness on one hand and scientific temper on the other, amongst the school students and their teachers
  • On the one hand, this programme would explain the culture of curiousness and scientific nature on the other.
  • Student Residential Programmes, scientists as teachers and teachers as scientists, lab specific activities/Onsite Experiments, visits of scientists to Schools/Outreach Programmes, science and maths Clubs, projects of National Children’s Science Congress and tinkering laboratories are some of the activities included under the programme.
December 2023