India’s IT Policy Plans

Rediff writes about the 10-point plan of Dayanidhi Maran, India’s new Union Minister for Communications and IT, to boost IT in the country:

1. Achieve convergence of information, communication and media technologies: He will expedite the convergence of technologies and prioritise PC penetration, thereby bringing cyber connectivity to every citizen.

2. Bring about transparency in administration: Maran plans to make government functioning more citizen-centric. He will stress on e-governance and quick implementation of a National E-governance Plan.

3. Broadband connectivity: Maran said he will look to providing broadband connectivity to all, at the most reasonable prices.

4. Next generation mobile wireless technologies: “I plan to leapfrog from the current generation of mobile telephony to the next 4G. India is currently using the technology of GSM (2.5 G) and CDMA for mobile telephony. The 3G standard has been evolved, but has not proved cost-effective. I therefore plan to leapfrog this generation and develop 4G technology. We will also set up a National Center for Excellence in this area,” he said.

5. National Internet Exchange and Indian Domain Name: He plans to connect all ISPs in India to a national Internet exchange in order to achieve efficient Internet traffic routing, cost reduction and improvement in the quality of service for the Internet users in India. His aim is to bring about improvement in Indian Internet Domain Name with a greater market focus to proliferate the Internet and will encourage multinational companies to host their mirror sites in India and encourage Indian enterprise to host sites to promote business and trade in India.

6. Migrate to new Internet Protocol IPv6: Worldwide the new IPv6 is being implemented on the Internet to accommodate increased number of users and take care of security concerns. Maran plans to bring about migration to IPv6 in India by 2006.

7. Security & Digital Signature: He will concentrate on Cyber Infrastructure Protection. All efforts shall be made to promote the use of digital signatures in the financial, judiciary and education sectors.

8. Media Lab Asia: He plans to ensure that the programme of Media Lab Asia of the government focus on the following areas of importance to the large Indian populace:
– Providing seamless communication connectivity to rural areas and promoting value-added services and micro enterprises to double the village GDP in a couple of years.
– Extend quality healthcare services to remote areas using the technologies of telemedicine and Internet access.
– Use information and communication technology tools to improve literacy through distance education.
– Promote development and availability of low-cost PCs and communication access devices to increase internet penetration 10-fold in a few years.

9. Language computing: Maran’s plan is to accelerate dialogue with state governments, linguists, R&D labs and industry for increased deployment of language computing solutions in government, industry and the society at large.

10. Outsourcing skilled manpower and R&D thrust: He plans to make India the world’s hub for outsourcing skilled manpower in the IT sector.

I think the government should play the role of an enabler – set the right, pro-competition policies. It needs to remove silly regulations (like the limits that are there on WiFi usage and VoIP), and create an unfettered environment in which innovation and entrepreneurship should thrive. I had earlier written a Letter to Arun Shourie about what needs to be done, but it equally well applies to what the new IT Minister should do.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.