The Indian government is planning to give one mobile phone to every family living below the poverty line.

The Indian government is considering giving one mobile phone to every family living below the poverty line, according to Today Online.


Sources in the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s office said the scheme—Har Hath Mein Phone (or A Mobile In Every Hand) – should be announced on August 15 and will not only aim to give away mobiles to the 6 million poor families in rural India but alos provide 200 minutes of free local talk time.

The scheme has been partly inspired by Kenya’s M-PESA mobile phone banking system which enables poor people to transfer money and receive payments via sms text messages. Similar schemes in India have been hampered because millions have no official identity documentation.

The Mobile in Every Hand Scheme however will benefit from the government’s ambitious unique identification project to record the biometric details of every Indian and issue them a secure number to help them access government services online. More than 200 million people have already been given new ID numbers.

India has undergone a mobile phone revolution in the last decade with cheap Chinese-made mobile phones and ‘pay as you go’ services encouraging millions of poor rickshaw pullers and domestic servants to subscribe.

Despite chronic electricity shortages, more than three-quarters of its 1.2 billion people have mobile phones and use them to boost their incomes.

Rickshaw pullers have established cellphone booking services in some cities, while small-holders use them to get text message weather forecasts which have helped boost crops.

Photo credit: The News