The Punjab Congress will give 50 lakh smartphones, with one year of free data and calling, to the youth of state in a bid to empower them and connect them digitally with the world, once it comes to power.
This was announced here on Sunday, November 20th by Captain Amarinder Singh, who launched the unique scheme ‘Captain Smart Connect’ in the presence of thousands of youth from across the state.
Amid loud cheers, Captain Amarinder promised the youth that those who registered themselves for the smart phones would get them within 100 days of the formation of the Congress government in the state.
Within minutes of the launch of the scheme, for which Captain Amarinder had invited the youth via Twitter, several thousand youths had registered on captainsmartconnect.com– a website set up exclusively for the purpose. The last date for registering on the website– the only platform for registration under the scheme- is November 30th, 2016.
Captain Amarinder’s Facebook profile, which went live with the event, witnessed 1200 likes and 8200 views in the first one hour of the launch.
Addressing a press conference after the launch, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president said the scheme will cost about Rs.300-400 crore a year after the initial investment in the first year. Allocation will be made in the state budget itself to fund the scheme, as part of the youth welfare programme of his government once he takes over the reigns of the state, he added.
Explaining the rationale behind the scheme, Captain Amarinder said even though one-third of Punjab’s population comprised youth in the 18-35 age group, this section remained backward. Large-scale unemployment was pushing the youth to drugs and other problems, making it important for the government to connect with them. At 13.5 per cent, Punjab had the country’s highest unemployment rate in the age group of 15 to 29 years, said Captain Amarinder, adding that the initiative would enable him, once he is in power, to build the bridges with the youth and provide them with the necessary opportunity for growth by empowering them digitally.
Responding to questions, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president said the early launch of the scheme would ensure that no time is wasted in its implementation once the Congress forms the government after the Assembly polls.
Earlier, on his arrival, Captain Amarinder checked in at the venue– Beant Singh Memorial (near Lake), Sector 42- through his Facebook page, which was broadcast live to the audience. Following suit, hundreds/thousands of youth gathered there also checked in, tagging the Punjab Congress president in their posts. This was followed by a video presentation, post which Captain Amarinder formally launched the website by pressing the button on a remote control, thus unveiling a giant mobile phone on the stage.
The scheme is applicable to youth who are residents of Punjab and in the age group of 18-35 years. The youth should be 10th pass, with annual household income less than Rs. 6 lakh, to be eligible for registration.
Youth registering on the website will receive receipts with unique codes, which will entitle them to receive the 4G enabled smartphone of set specifications– the best in the market at the time of disbursement.