17th September 2021

Sitara

India’s First Do Tank linking Tech and Geopolitical Power

Bharat Karnad’s expose of DoT’s blatant blow to High-Tech Domestic Companies

One of SITARA’s distinguished members Shri Bharat Karnad who has uncompromisingly campaigned for National Security – has exposed the Kafkaesque decision to deny Saankhya labs and IISc permission to participate in 5G trials.

He has consistently underlined the need to broaden the scope of National Security beyond importing high-tech weapons.

It is essential that the security of India’s ICT networks be an integral part of India’s National Security strategy. The shocking news that DoT had stalled the application of one of India’s best hi-tech companies – Saankhya Labs – and India’s best science institute – the Indian Institute of Science – to conduct 5G trials was a clear giveaway of the bureaucratic reluctance to allow indigenous players to come up.

In fact as per Dilip Subramanian’s History of the Telecom Industry in India, it is clear that political and bureaucratic interference laid ITI – India’s first high tech company in the telecommunications sphere – low.

It was stupendously handicapped through self-serving administrative and political decisions regarding location, the choice of foreign technology partner and even product technology . No critical decision seemed to have been in the hands of the technocrats themselves, unlike in China where State Owned Enterprises drove the initial growth story. Babus were appointed as the heads of ITI (India’s first PSU, founded in 1948 in Bangalore) and all agency stripped from the PSU. This is probably the story of all PSUs in India. First emasculate them by appointing bureaucrats with no stake in the success of the company, then privatise/ sell them off, even to foreigners!

DoT’s decision is so much in line with the most hated aspects of Licence Raj, which our Govt is claiming is being dismantled, that it is absolutely essential that Prime Minister’s Office and other patriotic minded people take action. This is a flagrant violation of PM’s Atmanirbharta Doctrine and his speech on Telecommunications which was ironically delivered to COAI, which is tenaciously opposed to indigenisation despite being headed by former Army people, in which he:

  1. Urged the deployment of indigenous Technologies: “the time has come to focus on self-reliance and security in the telecom sector”.
  2. Said it would be great if the webinar can brainstorm about a roadmap to achieve end-to-end self-reliance in connectivity infrastructure as well as ensuring greater security at all levels against threats
  3. Took pride in how the Indian government had successfully conceived and operationalized the ‘JAM trinity’ (Jan Dhan –Aadhar- Mobile).
  4. Emphasized how digital connectivity was an enabler of multiple kinds of mobility including social, economic and transformational.

He made another welcome speech emphasising that India should be a global hub for telecom manufacturing, design & development.

As SITARA too has been relentlessly pointing out, it is not enough to drive the Chinese out: the next step is to nurture Indian companies, deploy Carel like models to promote indigenous Technologies, make the indigenous deployment of 5G and 4G a Mission Mode project the Science, Technology and Innovation draft talks about, and so on.

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