Akhilesh Yadav’s UP government is all set to capitalize on the hype set up by the Reliance 4G launch, with state polls scheduled to be held within six months. The government is going to release a scheme to hand out free smartphones in the state. The scheme will be presented in front of the cabinet for approval and shortly after that people will be able to register online for it.

The scheme is said to promote the enabling of government’s access, and in turn the Digital India campaign. The free distribution channels will be designed in such a way that students and farmers will get more access to the benefit of the economy. Giving smartphones to farmers might not do any good immediately, but with time, given how addictive smartphones are, if they use it to their benefit, it will help them develop and keep an agricultural ecosystem that India essentially survives on.

The CM said that the government did a similar thing laptops a few years ago with the aim of bridging the digital division. He also said that smartphones are a device of choice even for the rural youth, and this choice of convenience is what can help them. If they are not given access to such technology, investing in infrastructure will be futile.

The devices are said to be available to people aged 18 years and above.

With best interests be it, but this comes at a very convenient time for the Samajwadi Party, as the minister seems to be in a haste to initiate this program (1 January 2017). It will be an integral part of their election manifesto.

It is said that the smartphones will be acquired through an open bidding (the rules of which have not been set). The applications in the phones will be aimed to provide access to government schemes, be using audio, video or text.

Such a development will certainly help the state catch up with the rest of the country, but seemingly development is only one of the primary objectives of the initiative. An agricultural country like India can benefit massively with such an infrastructural add-on. Giving internet access to farmers could open up a wide array of information sources for them. Drought periods could be a little less effective.