1 . Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF)
Reasons for being in news
The Union Cabinet has approved Implementation of a Comprehensive Telecom Development Plan (CTDP) for the North Eastern Region(NER) in Meghalaya at a total estimated project cost of Rs. 3911 crore to be funded by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF).
About the fund
It is a fund which was created to provide universal access to telecom services . It is mostly used for providing telecom services to rural and remote areas at affordable and reasonable prices.
Need for USOF
Apart from the higher capital cost of providing telecom services in rural and remote areas, these areas also generate lower revenue due to lower population density, low income and lack of commercial activity.
Thus normal market forces alone would not direct the telecom sector to adequately serve backward and rural areas. Keeping in mind the inadequacy of the market mechanism to serve rural and inaccessible areas on one hand and the importance of providing vital telecom connectivity on the other hand, USOF was created.
The New Telecom Policy (NTP) 1999 of Department of Telecom, GoI had Universal Service as one of its main objectives. The NTP 1999 provided that the resources for meeting the Universal Service Obligation (USO) were to be generated through a Universal Access Levy (UAL), at a prescribed percentage of the revenue earned by the telecom licensees to be decided in consultation with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
The Universal Service Support Policy came into effect from 01.04.2002. The guidelines for universal service support policy were issued by DoT on 27th March 2002.
The Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Act, 2003 giving statutory status to the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) was passed by both Houses of Parliament in December 2003.
The Rules for administration of the Fund known as Indian Telegraph (Amendment) Rules, 2004 were notified on 26.03.2004.
As per the Indian Telegraph Act 1885 (as amended in 2003, 2006), the Fund is to be utilized exclusively for meeting the Universal Service Obligation.
Aim of the fund
Enabling rural Indians to achieve their fullest potential and participate productively in the development of the nation by virtue of being effectively connected through a reliable and ubiquitous telecommunications network, access to which is within their reach and within their means.
Objectives of the fund
1 . Network extension & stimulate uptake of the ICT services.
2 . Mainstreaming the underserved & un-served areas/groups .
3 . To enable citizens exercise their political rights in an informed way .
4 . Equitable distribution of the fruits of the telecom/digital revolution and fair allocation of national resource (pooled USO levy) via targeted subsidies.
2 . PRAGATI
Reasons for being in news
The Prime Minister chaired his twenty-sixth interaction through PRAGATI – the ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation on 23rd May.
What is PRAGATI?
PRAGATI is a unique integrating and interactive platform . It is ICT-based, multi-modal platform for Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation. It was launched on 25-March-2015 .
About PRAGATI meetings
The 25 PRAGATI meetings so far have seen a cumulative review of 227 projects with a total investment of over Rs. 10 lakh crore. Resolution of Public Grievances has also been reviewed across a range of sectors.
Aim of PRAGATI
The platform is aimed at addressing common man’s grievances, and simultaneously monitoring and reviewing important programmes and projects of the Government of India as well as projects flagged by State Governments.
Salient features of PRAGATI
1 . The PRAGATI platform uniquely bundles three latest technologies: Digital data management, video-conferencing and geo-spatial technology.
2 . It also offers a unique combination in the direction of cooperative federalism since it brings on one stage the Secretaries of Government of India and the Chief Secretaries of the States.
3 . A built-in feature of PRAGATI is that the directions given during review of projects will remain in the system for further follow up and review till the finality of the matter.
4 . With this, the Prime Minister is able to discuss the issues with the concerned Central and State officials with full information and latest visuals of the ground level situation.
5 . It is also an innovative project in e-governance and good governance.
3 . Man Booker International Prize 2018
“Flights” , a philosophical rumination on modern-day travel by Polish author Olga Tokarczuk, won the Man Booker International Prize 2018 for works of translated fiction.
Ms. Tokarczuk shared the prize of £50,000 ($67,000) with the book’s English-language translator, Jennifer Croft.
About Man Booker International Prize
The Man Booker International Prize is an international literary award hosted in the United Kingdom. The introduction of the International Prize to complement the Man Booker Prize was announced in June 2004.
Sponsored by the Man Group, from 2005 until 2015 the award was given every two years to a living author of any nationality for a body of work published in English or generally available in English translation. It rewarded one author’s “continued creativity, development and overall contribution to fiction on the world stage”, and was a recognition of the writer’s body of work rather than any one title.
Since 2016, the award has been given annually to a single book in English translation, with a £50,000 prize for the winning title, shared equally between author and translator