Need a virtual world: Kapil Sibal
The telecom industry should lobby with central and the state governments and the civil society to convince them about the need for a virtual world for empowering the people of India, said communications and information technology (IT) minister Kapil Sibal in New Delhi. "Our aim is to make the digital world omnipresent and omnipotent, for which the government and industry should work together with the civil society, state governments and demonstrate the enormous advantages of the virtual world," said Sibal while inaugurating the 9th National Summit on Digital Society organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). "There is a need for investments in basic infrastructure in the virtual world along with the need for constant research and applications to be developed," said the minister.
"The first political task is to gather all the forces together i.e. the central government, state governments, civil society to ensure there is realisation that for India virtual world is the future."
While releasing an ASSOCHAM-Com First India study titled 'Broadband for India' the minister also stressed upon having partnerships within the industry players. "The key players in the industry must realise that in the virtual world too they would remain the key players and there is enough space for everyone."
Sibal also said there is a need for creating an ecosystem that ultimately empowers the common man as the intent of any policy of the government is to reach the faceless man.
"Governments should not be looking at filling up their pockets but should be looking at empowering people and fill up their pockets," said Sibal. "This has to be the objective and policy of the government, not just in telecom but across the board.
Calling upon the need for a holistic integrated network, the minister said, "We cannot have different networks giving different solutions but a central network from where the data floats and that is our first imperative."
The minister also said there is a need for developing an industry to manufacture the right devices which is the second imperative as networks are of no use in the absence of devices. "If we are going to import devices at heavy costs then the dream we have to empower rural India won't be realised."
Sibal also said there is a need to give enormous encouragement and create the right kind of space for manufacturing industry to be able to connect the information to the device.
The minister also informed that government is moving towards developing a chip and will take a decision in a few weeks time about whom to partner with in this behalf.
Sharing his views on the need for a robust content industry in India, Sibal further said, "I am amaking a project for developing content of folktales of India on the internet for our children so they learn about their roots, traditions and culture and that's how India has to move forward."
Reiterating his views the minister further said that its not an easy task to achieve the aforementioned goals and this can only happen through strong partnerships between the government (central and state), industry, civil society and other stakeholders.
The ASSOCHAM-Com First India study has recommended for taking calibrated steps to strengthen the broadband ecosystem of carriage, content, devices, skills and others.
Besides, the study has suggested reducing cost and speed of building broadband infrastructure and to reduce fees and levies and streamline approvals for towers and other infrastructure to speed up network expansion.
There is also a need to reduce costs and improve environment for internet service providers involved in delivery of broadband services to low income and rural users, said the study.
Urging the government to address concerns about allocation and pricing of spectrum to realize the unique potential of wireless broadband in India, the study has suggested releasing additional spectrum to minimise lost value of idle spectrum.
Expanding and expediting the roll out of the National e-Governance plan to deliver public services and to strengthen the content ecosystem and supporting the low cost smart phones and tablets are also other suggestions jointly made by ASSOCHAM and com First India.