Write short notes on:
(a) USO Fund. (b) Need for Urban Development.
(a) USO Fund: USO Fund (USOF) stands for Universal Service Obligation Fund of the telecom sector in India. It is collected as 5% of the revenues of the cellular operators. The Fund aims at creating the communication towers and other infrastructure in the rural areas which need extension of mobile coverage. Such areas are otherwise left by the operators due to lack of commercial viability. Upto January 2009 only 3000 out of the 7871 towers proposed by the USOF were ready. If utilized optimally, USOF would result in higher penetration and virtually universal coverage in India.
(b) Need for Urban Development: Because of India’s agrarian nature and higher incidence of poverty in the rural areas, the policy makers in India have been concentrating on rural development and rural poverty alleviation programmes since independence. The Census 2001 Report exposed the fact that the population growth rate in the urban area of the country was much higher than the average growth. The urban population growth during the ten year period from 1991 to 2001 was 35 per cent, as against 19 per cent growth of the total population. It is projected that during the period 2001 to 2011, the population growth rate in the urban areas would be as high as 38 per cent.
Migration to the cities is a natural phenomenon, but in case of India, this rate is extremely high. People migrate to the cities and urban areas to look for better employment avenues. This poses a real challenge to the city managers, as increasingly large number of people in the cities have to be provided with adequate civic facilities like affordable housing, drinking water, sanitation, electricity, street lighting and solid waste disposal etc.
While it is a daunting challenge, it also offers an opportunity for the policy makers who can utilize this situation as a poverty alleviation measure. By providing the required urban amenities in the cities, more migration of the rural population can be ensured, which would result in productive employment opportunities in the urban areas to the migrants and resultant reduction of people living below poverty line. With the ongoing Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, huge quantities of funds are being spent to upgrade the infrastructure and housing facilities in the designated cities, making them self-sufficient. If achieved, this would ensure good civic amenities and assist in achieving the national objective of poverty alleviation, among other things.