|Topic:||Emerging technologies and India’s participation in the global economy|
|Title:||Minister for Communications and Information Technology|
|Organisation:||Government of India|
Mr Dayanidhi Maran is India’s Honourable Minister for Communications and Information Technology. Mr Maran was elected to the 14th Lok Sabha, the Indian Parliament’s House of the People. As the representative from Central Madras, Mr Maran is continuing the legacy of his late father, Murasoli Maran, who served in the Union Cabinet in various capacities, including as Minister for Commerce and Industry. Mr Maran has been deeply involved and associated with the Print Media for well over a decade. Mr Maran is a voracious reader and takes keen interest in areas of current affairs, political science, social science, commerce, finance, global trade and information technology. Mr Maran received his initial education in Tamil Nadu and graduated in Economics from Loyola College in Chennai. Mr Maran has attended many educational programmes and courses including the Owner/President Management Programme (OPM), at Harvard Business School, in the US.
India is now one of the world’s preferred providers of IT services. Its telecom sector is a hallmark of India’s economic liberalisation programme. Since ICT is vital to success in the global economy and a tool for raising living standards, the government created a wide range of initiatives to make India a global player in the ICT arena. Partly in response to this governmental support, a significant percentage of Fortune 500 companies have located their R&D facilities in India.
Information Technology has given India tremendous brand equity in the global market. The Indian IT industry is worth over US$20 billion; over the last five years, it has registered an annual growth rate of over 20 per cent per annum. India has emerged as the world’s preferred provider of IT services and is steadily moving up the value chain. The telecom sector has emerged as a hallmark of India’s economic liberalisation programme. Mobile phones have seen their fastest growth in 2004; today, mobile lines exceed fixed-line connections. ICT is increasingly used as a tool for socio-economic transformation. In the global economy, the key to success is to be competitive in certain key areas. The capacity of a nation to harness emerging technologies to their advantage can determine its role in the global economy. The 21st century is increasingly dependent on emerging technologies and any nation that is able to anticipate and absorb this to its advantage would derive substantial economic and social benefits. With the advancement of ICT technologies, particularly in the context of worldwide broadband connectivity and excellent entrepreneurial skills supported by highly skilled manpower, India’s IT industry has developed skills that have enabled it to create a name for itself in IT services–especially the ITES/BPO (Information Technology Enabled Services/ Business Process Outsourcing) sector. Besides lowering the cost, Indian IT industry has become very quality conscious, as one can see from the progressive inroads made into getting more and more software companies assessed for SEI–CMM Level 3 to 5, ISO 9001 certification, BS 7799/security standards and other global quality accreditation. SEI–CMM Level 5 is considered the highest level of process maturity for software delivery. As per SEI data, out of about 150 companies in the world, as many as 66, i.e. 44 per cent, are from India. Some recent initiatives It is our vision to make India a major player in the global ICT arena, by using ICT as an enabling tool for raising the living standards of the common people of the country and to propel ICT-led economic growth. We have recently announced a 10-point agenda. It seeks to make India a global hub of quality IT manpower, which would reassure the many enterprises that have invested heavily in India’s IT services sector. The main objective of this 10-point agenda is to maintain India as the world’s preferred provider of IT services and encourage the growth of the domestic IT market, with the legitimate social goal of bridging the ‘digital divide’. With a view to bring about transparency in administration and make government functioning more citizen-centric, a National e-Governance Action Plan (NEGAP) has been developed. NEGAP has identified 22 Mission Mode Projects, which are being implemented in a phased manner over the next three to four years by the line Ministries or Departments concerned at the central and state level, as applicable, in addition to the various other e-governance initiatives being taken by the respective states and central ministries. State Wide Area Network (SWAN) has been identified as an element of the core infrastructure for supporting this activity. Another example of adoption of emerging technology was the setting up of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) two and half decades ago. This centre has an ICT network (NICNET) that works as a gateway for 53 Federal Government Departments, 35 State/Union Territory Secretariats and 603 District Collectorates. NIC hosts Government to Citizen Services, Government to Government Services and various ICT projects/services such as Online Treasuries Information System, Community Information Centres, Government at your door-step programme, Agricultural Marketing Network, Land Record Information System, Central Passport System and the IT in Indian Judiciary programme, to name a few. A National Broadband Policy 2004 has been formulated and announced to provide broadband connectivity, at reasonable rates, to give impetus to Internet penetration in the country. The new broadband policy aims to target 3 million broadband subscribers and 6 million Internet subscribers by December 2005. The rollout plan is in place. In order to establish the ‘.in’ Internet domain name as a globally recognized symbol of India’s growth and developments in the area of Information Technology, a proactive policy for ‘.in’ domain proliferation, along with the creation of the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has been put in place and is being implemented. Added focus has been given to PC penetration and thereby cyber connectivity to every citizen. Multi-pronged approaches–fiscal incentives, various technological initiatives and promotional measures–are being implemented to achieve this objective. To accommodate the increased number of users and take care of security concerns worldwide, experiments with the new Internet protocol IPv6 are in progress. India has also put in place an action plan for migration to IPv6. Given India’s multi-lingual nature, dialogue with State Governments, linguists, R&D labs and industry has been accelerated for increased deployment of language computing solutions in Government and the society at-large. Information Security has assumed added significance in recent times. An integrated programme covering, inter alia, Legal Tools for Confidence in Networked Society, Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), Information Security Assurance Framework, Cyber Forensics, R&D in InfoSecurity, e-Governance and Security Practices, HRD (Human Resource Development) in InfoSecurity, Cyber Infrastructure Protection Plan, promoting the use of Digital Signatures, amongst others, have been put in place and are under implementation. R&D thrust The process of identifying new thrust areas and initiating R&D programmes, responding to the rapidly changing technologies and applications scenario, is continuous. Presently, the work on the following R&D thrust areas in IT is under implementation: √ High performance computing and grid computing; √ InfoSecurity R&D; √ Smart Cards–technologies and applications; √ R&D for multi-lingual computing; √ Next generation wireless technologies; √ ICT R&D relevant to the common man–media lab Asia and √ R&D and test beds for e-society applications–telemedicine, e-learning and e-Governance. Some illustrative examples are given below: √ The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), a premier R&D organisation in DIT, developed the PARAM series of supercomputers, the latest being PARAM Padma, with aggregate peak performance of one Teraflop, ranked 171 in the list of top 500 supercomputers of the world in June 2003. C-DAC now, in participation with ERNET (Education and Research Network for the Nation), is implementing Grid Computing Initiative; √ An InfoSecurity R&D agenda is under implementation; √ Technology Development in Indian Language (TDIL) is a major national initiative. Media Lab Asia has a mandate to conduct research relevant for the common man, ensure successful implementation of research projects in villages and make India a leading innovator in using emerging technologies in the service of the poor. A large number of projects are under implementation. In the area of Next Generation Wireless Technologies (4G), India plans to position itself as a significant player. A Centre of Excellence in Wireless Technologies (CEWiT), functions in association with IIT, Chennai on a public-private partnership. Indian expatriates–a key bridge between India and the global economy The wide-scale emigration of Indian citizens has resulted in more than 20 million people of ethnic Indian ancestry living outside of India. Many who left India were well educated, including a large number of Indians currently employed in the IT Industry in the West. Expatriate Indian IT professionals are a potentially important resource for enterprises involved in offshore application development, due to their ability to help ‘bridge the cultural gap’ between Western client enterprises and Indian software companies. These Indian IT professionals are able to understand and work effectively within Western enterprises and cultures, and can successfully deal with the cultural, communication and business styles found in India. The risks of offshore outsourcing have been significantly reduced by involving these expatriate IT professionals in offshore outsourcing strategies–particularly IT professionals who can convincingly demonstrate their mastery of both Indian and Western business practices. Emerging technologies and opportunities–towards a R&D/innovation hub in ICT Internationally, there is an increasing concentration of R&D resources on software development, system engineering and consultancy. The dominant trend in industrial R&D is to decentralise research and look outside the company for innovation. In this context, it is easy to understand the increasing focus upon India by major companies and the significant percentage of Fortune 500 companies locating their R&D facilities in India (IEEE Spectrum, November 2004). The next wave in ICT is centred on innovation and the conquest of complexity (Economist, 30 October, 2004). Insofar as IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) are concerned, India is now TRIPs (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) compliant. In view of the advantages and strengths already shown by India, many analysts believe that India is emerging as a global R&D hub in ICT in certain carefully chosen emerging technologies. India needs to cash in on this current wave of innovation in ICT, in addition to continuing to strengthen its presence in IT services and BPO segments. Engineering and product design using the latest CAD/CAM tools is one area where there are emerging opportunities in India. VLSI design has been another area. In the coming years, with the continuing standardization of powerful processors and hardware components, the main differentiator in newer products developed for the entire information technology, consumer electronics and telecom industry will be in software and therefore cost reduction through innovation in India provides another opportunity. Wireless and the quest to include newer and newer services and capabilities in mobile and wireless communications give more and more opportunities for innovation. Computing gets more mobile and more personal; call it convergence, call it networked devices or pervasive computing–the area is growing. ICT solutions for emerging economies Currently, emerging-markets and developing economies are, as a group, growing at their fastest pace for at least 30 years. Three-fifths of the countries tracked weekly by the Economist are growing at a robust rate of around 6 per cent or more. The IMF is forecasting that in 2005 sub-Sahara Africa could grow at its fastest rate in three decades (Economist, 11-22 October, 2004). Management gurus, such as Prof C.K. Prahalad, have recently argued that, purely for economic reasons, there is a need for fresh thinking about emerging markets. ICT has established itself as a tool for socio-economic development of various nations, and India, with its vast range of digital inclusion possibilities, its diversities and innovative ICT capabilities, provides the ideal platform for low-cost country-specific, innovative business solutions. India, therefore, is an ideal place for multinationals and Indian companies to research, test-bed and develop their market for emerging economies. In fact, many companies have already started developing their strategies by using India as their base for ICT solutions for emerging economies. Other emerging technologies that need to be tracked closely for a possible large-scale deployment in 2005/06 include VoIP, WiMax and Internet access over power lines and RFID. India and the knowledge economy–future scenario Having created a niche in the global knowledge economy, India has to enhance it in the coming decade. A great number of countries are progressing aggressively in the knowledge economy and India needs to continuously monitor its relative position and strengthen its competitiveness through strategic initiatives. Tracking the emerging technologies, strengthening current investments, adopting best practices and building strong public-private partnerships, would fulfil India’s goal of growing participation in the global economy.