Corporate houses have been using it quite successfully. Now it’s the turn of a larger community – the state’s Other Backward Classes (OBCs) – to avail of a closed user group (CUG) service to get connected on their cell phones for nominal monthly charges.
Satyashodhak OBC Parishad, a non-profit organisation working with OBCs in Maharashtra, has tied up with the government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) for the scheme.
BSNL operates in the entire state barring two districts in Mumbai, and the scheme will be introduced in Mumbai soon.
The parishad plans to add 6,000 members every month. BSNL will give free sim cards to OBCs after they get recommendation letters from district nodal officers of the Satyashodhak OBC Parishad. Nodal officers will endorse application forms (which can be obtained at BSNL customer care centres) if a caste certificate is produced.
Upre told HT that he wanted CUG services because of the communication gap plaguing the community.
“Most of the OBCs are not rich and they cannot afford longer calls. We discussed the matter with BSNL and got the plan approved and launched it from July 1.”
At a minimum recharge rate of Rs90, Upre expects the connectivity to help OBCs interact frequently.
“Now we can text messages on cultural and social functions, family programmes. We expect such interaction to update OBCs socially and academically, which will make them more politically relevant.”
The state has about 6 crore OBCs drawn from 375 castes – nearly half its population and its most populous community.
The community, which is scattered across regions and divided culturally, is significant in the state’s socio-political structure.
Other than prominent leaders such as Gopinath Munde (Bharatiya Janata Party), Chhagan Bhujbal (Nationalist Congress Party), several political parties have a large number of OBC legislators and members of Parliament.