NEWS-INDIA: Long wait yet for Convergence Bill

  • To: gii <india-gii at cpsr dot org>
  • Subject: NEWS-INDIA: Long wait yet for Convergence Bill
  • From: Frederick Noronha <fred at bytesforall dot org>
  • Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2000 11:20:55 +0530
  • Organization: Freelance Journalist
  • Reply-to: fred@bytesforall.org
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    • Long wait yet for Convergence Bill
      
      by Deepshikha Ghosh, India Abroad News Service
      
      New Delhi, Dec. 6 - The enactment of the Convergence Bill is likely to be
      postponed to the next session of Parliament, Information Technology Minister
      Pramod Mahajan has indicated.
      
      The bill, once cleared by the Union cabinet, will be posted on the Internet
      for public comments, Mahajan said at the inaugural function of IT World
      2000/Comdex India here. "I don't know what the act will finally be called,"
      he added.
      
      This is the second time that important legislation is being posted on the
      Internet - the first being the information technology (IT) bill.
      
      Mahajan said the draft, which would be placed before Parliament in the next
      session, proposed a Convergence Commission of India which would look into
      all three kinds of delivery systems -- communication, information technology
      (IT) and information and broadcasting.
      
      "If this act is in place in the next 6-8 months, India will be the second
      country in Asia -- after Malaysia -- to have such a system," the minister
      said.
      
      Mahajan outlined the government's plans to leverage its advantage of an
      English-speaking workforce and create a "world reservoir" for IT
      professionals by the year 2005 through "Operation Knowledge". The World Bank
      has committed $1 billion for the project, he added.
      
      According to him, inadequacy of power and telecom infrastructure was the
      main stumbling block in India's march. He also expressed concern over the
      gap between India's performance in the software and hardware sectors, saying
      if the "mismatch" continued, Indian IT professionals would be treated as
      mere raw material for more advanced countries.
      
      "We plan to have 10,000 community information centers all over India,
      equipped with computers and trained professionals, as part of our program to
      take IT to the masses," Mahajan said.
      
      M.S. Banga, chairman of consumer giant Hindustan Lever, proposed a central
      national telecom mission on the lines of the rural literacy mission in the
      country to champion the formulation of a master blueprint for taking IT to
      Indian villages.
      
      He stressed on the "four Cs" - connectivity, content, community and
      commerce - to aid India in leveraging IT so it could have a more profound
      effect on the agricultural sector, which is the heart of its economy.
      
      India needed very low cost connectivity through no-frills Net access
      devices, well-packaged information, Net-based community cooperatives and
      e-commerce, which could be implemented through strategic alliances between
      the Central government, state governments and industry, he said.
      
      "Together, they must put together a master blueprint of a click and brick
      model," Banga said. "Equal distribution of income is not only a social
      objective but an economic imperative. IT can be used to imagine and create
      innovative solutions to improve the lives of the people of this country,"
      
      He said Indian IT had sailed across high seas, now it must reach the rivers
      and streams that percolate the country.
      
      The three-day IT World/Comdex India exhibition will feature more than 150
      Indian and international companies, with the theme "The Networked
      Millennium". The exhibition will cover three major technology fields,
      e-commerce, networking platforms, convergence and infrastructure and
      financial services.