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Punjab Free Smartphone (Captain Smart Connect) Scheme Closed

Newly formed Punjab government led by CM Bhagwant Mann has scrapped Captain Smart Connect Scheme. Now there is No Punjab Free Smartphone Scheme currently functional in the state. After the formation of AAP govt, the state govt. has closed previously running पंजाब मुफ्त स्मार्टफोन योजना. However, it is expected that Aam Admi Party govt. will start smartphone scheme for students with a new name. All those people who want to know about the earlier running Captain free smartphone scheme can still read this article.

Earlier Punjab Free Smartphone Scheme Closed

After coming to power in Punjab, there is no update released by state govt. on free smartphone scheme. An official said that AAP party is planning to introduce a new smartphone scheme soon with a new name. The main objective of this new free smartphone distribution scheme would be to empower young people and connect them digitally to facilitate online learning on priority.

About Captain Smart Connect Scheme

Captain Smart Connect Scheme aimed to provide 50 lakh free smartphones to class 11th and 12th students. Under this scheme, eligible youth were to get free smartphone with free 4G data for one year. Named as Captain Smart Connect, the free smartphone scheme in Punjab aimed at providing students with easy digital access to educational content online.

Specifications of Smartphones

The smartphones were equipped with various smart features such as touch screen, camera and pre-loaded government applications. It includes various features such as e-Sewa App along with e-content related to class 11th and 12th as approved by department of school education in Punjab.
The free smartphone scheme in Punjab was announced in 2016 election manifesto but was not launched immediately. However after several changes to the scheme eligibility criteria and implementation, Punjab govt. finally launched free smartphone scheme in July 2020. 

Revamped Mobile Phones to Youths Scheme 

In order to attract the youths of the Punjab, the hon'ble Chief Minister of that time (Captain Amarinder Singh) had announced Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme in 2016. Under this scheme, the then CM made an announcement to provide 50 lakh smartphones with 1 year of free data and calling to the youth in the state. However, due to financial constraints, implementation of free smartphone scheme not became possible. So, govt. had change Punjab Captain Smart Connect Scheme to Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme. In this revamped scheme, it was decided to provide 1.74 lakh smartphones to youths. In the 1st phase, around 50,000 boys / girls students of govt. schools studying in class 12th only were to get mobile phones.

Punjab Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme Features 

Here are the important features and highlights of the Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme.  
  • Name of the scheme - Smart Connect Scheme or Mobile Phones to the Youth Scheme
  • Objective - To provide smartphones to youth to digitally empower them & facilitate online learning
  • Smartphones as per 2016 election manifesto of Congress - 50 lakh
  • Beneficiaries as per 2016 election manifesto of Congress - class 11 and 12th students
  • Smartphones in original Punjab free smartphone scheme - 1,74,015
  • Major Beneficiaries of original smartphone scheme in Punjab - class 12th boys and girls
  • Announced by - Former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh
  • Approved by - Cabinet Committee
  • State - Punjab
  • Approval Date - July 2020
  • Boys Vs Girls: 87,395 boys and 86,620 girls
  • Rural Vs Urban: 1,11,857 youths from rural areas and 62158 youths from urban area
This new Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme in Punjab aimed at providing a further boost to the digital empowerment agenda of the state government.

Type of Mobile Phones in Revamped Punjab Free Smartphone Scheme

Under the Punjab Mobile Phones to the Youth scheme, govt. provided basic smartphones to both boys and girl students in 12th standards. Those handsets which were distributed come up with various features which includes:-
  1. Touchscreen Interface
  2. Camera Unit
  3. Internet Connectivity
  4. Social Media Apps
  5. Pre-loaded government applications
  6. e-Sewa App
  7. e-content of class 11th and 12th
Smartphones under the Punjab Free Smartphone Scheme also provided some other basic functionalities.

Implementation of Punjab Captain Smart Connect Scheme

Punjab govt. had incorporated an open transparent biding process. Vendors responsible to provide mobile devices to students were chosen through a transparent process. Punjab Information Technology Corporation Ltd. had earlier floated tenders for Free Smartphone Distribution Scheme. The state govt. then procured handsets to be distributed in the 1st phase of Punjab Captain Smart Connect Scheme. 

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