A heavy-duty minister handling charge of Telecom, Railways and the Ministry of IT and Electronics, Ashwini Vaishnaw, spoke extensively yet freely about the personal data protection bill, India's semiconductor ambitions, export from India and 5G at Business Today's India@100 conclave. Here are the top eight promises he made to the Indian citizens.
Data Protection Bill to see the light of the day soon:
Very soon, the government will be uploading the revised draft, which will meet everyone's expectations, says the minister. "From the entire country, there is an expectation that the bill should be very neatly drafted, it should be easy to understand, it should be relevant with the times, it should create that online environment where trust and safety of the users get the primacy."
He further explained that the data protection bill has been in the works for a long. But if we were to look at the journey of this bill, when the joint parliamentary committee suggested a series of amendments in the bill of 99 sections, there were 81 amendments suggested. Then there were about 17 major recommendations on top of it. So, the government had no choice but to redraft the bill, which is practically completed. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that, even though there is a very long series of consultations, which have gone, still we must thoroughly consult with the people with all the stakeholders."
Revamping Telecom sector:
Along with data protection, the government is looking to revamp some other sectors which support the data economy, including the telecom sector. "Currently, the telecom industry is regulated by a law which was of 1885, 1933 and 1950. That's the vintage of the legal systems which are currently governing the entire telecom sector. In the Telegraph Act, which is the basic governing act of the entire telecom sector, the word telecom doesn't appear." When the law was drafted, wireless and spectrum were not even part of the discussion during those days.
5G for Bharat:
The government is acting quickly on 5G and expects 5G services to be rolled out in the country by October 12. But what's even more important is ensuring the prices remain affordable for the consumers to access 5G. "First of all, it will be a mass proposition. Not only the two private sector telecom service providers, but BSNL will also roll out its 5G in the coming 18 to 24 months for sure."
The big difference that 5G will bring will be in two sectors - education and health. These two sectors are going to make a very big difference in the lives of 130 Crore Indians, and especially the people who are at who are at the bottom of the pyramid, who are at the most remotest parts at the margins of the society, the people for who are from our political thought process point of view who are the most important people for whom we exist.
India to become a leader in 6G:
While speaking at the Conclave, the minister said India should aspire big. Acknowledging, India lost out the race in 2G and 3G because of the various reasons and mostly the political will was not there. With 4G, India has caught up. With 5G, India should be able to stand up with the word. "But with 6G, the Prime Minister has given us the clear mandate that we should become the leaders in the world."
'Aatmanirbharta' in IT and Electronics:
In 2014, India hardly had any electronics manufacturing, forget telecom equipment, forget cell phones. "It was not even thinkable. People were not even considering that India will ever become up there. India's electronics manufacturing today is close to $80 billion. And the number of people employed in the electronics manufacturing sector is 2.5 million. The rate of growth of electronics manufacturing in India, is double-digit CAGR. And we think that in next 4-5 years, this will become a $250 million industry." The way things are going, the minister thinks it may exceed $300 billion and might actually exceed one crore employment in the coming 4-5 years.
Groundbreaking ceremony for Indian Semiconductor unit in 2-3 months:
India's decades-old dream to become a semiconductor manufacturing hub is finally moving in the right direction. The Semiconductor scheme announced in December 2021 has received excellent progress, said the minister. "Typical decision on semiconductor happens in a timeframe of 14 to 18 months, all over the world. On January 1 of this year is when we uploaded the applications. Today we are in a position where in the coming two or three months, we should be having the first groundbreaking ceremony for Indian semiconductor manufacturing units." Plus, the minister promised that India would have multiple fabs. But India needs to accept that the world is far ahead of us. So, India will have to really accelerate this journey. It will take India definitely 5-6 years to become a major player in semiconductor manufacturing.
India will become chip design capital for the world:
While the minister said it be challenging to answer the question by when the country become the chip manufacturing capital of the world, he said India will become the chip design capital of the world. "Today we have close to 55,000 design semiconductor engineers working for various companies. And as part of our semiconductor program, we have brought out a design-led scheme where the engineers who want to try out their luck in designing semiconductor chips, they can come out they can use common facilities which are getting developed at C-DAC unit in Pune and startup their venture. If they succeed or do not succeed, there is a great ecosystem already there. So I can confidently say that within the next five to six years, we will become a great semiconductor design capital of the world. We will use that capability to feed into our semiconductor manufacturing also."
India to become a large exporter of telecom equipment in 2 years:
The government is giving financial incentives along with comprehensive ones to the telecom startups by helping them with the opportunity to integrate the radio in the C-DOT core, and then gets the opportunity to install that in the BSNL network. "Imagine that kind of fundamental comprehensive support that a startup gets and that is what the revealing thing is. I can bet with you in two years' time, we will become a large exporter of telecom equipment. Forget just being them manufacturers and designers for India. They will be supplying to the entire world."
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