Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked all stakeholders to join hands for a quick roll out of next generation 5G technology in the country, India and Japan have begun to examine how to collaborate in this area under an existing bilateral collaboration mechanism. The 5G technology roll out was one of the key points discussed at the sixth joint working group meeting under the India-Japan ICT (information, communication and technology) Comprehensive Cooperation Framework, held virtually on December 8. Wireless planning and standardisation of ICT technologies as well as its utilisation were also considered.
In addition to 5G, the India-Japan Joint Working Group considers futuristic submarine optical fibre placements, smart cities and utilisation artificial intelligence in healthcare as some of the areas of mutual interest. According to officials, the nodal ministries - India's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Telecommunications - are working together to finalise a new memorandum of cooperation under the ICT framework to further enhance and expand their joint efforts.
The India-Japan ICT Comprehensive Cooperation Framework was set up almost seven years ago to advance bilateral cooperation in the field of ICT. The submarine optical fiber cable connecting Chennai and Andaman & Nicobar, laid by NEC, Japan and was inaugurated by Modi a couple of months ago is one of the recent outcomes of this joint effort. On the healthcare front, a collaborative project has seen Asian Institute of Gastroenterology in Hyderabad installing a software for AI assisted colonoscopy diagnosis.
The sixth Joint Working Group meeting conducted through C-DOT's web platform was attended by Anshu Prakash, secretary, Department of Telecommunications.
Japan was one of the first countries Modi visited after he first took charge as Prime Minister in 2014. Following his visit, the status of India-Japan bilateral relationship was upgraded to 'Special Strategic and Global Partnership'. In 2018, a bilateral partnership - India-Japan Digital Partnership (I-JDP) - was launched and both sides signed a joint statement on Japan-India Startup Initiative setting up the first Startup Hub in Bangalore by JETRO to identify selected Indian start-ups for Japanese market and for potential Japanese investors. In fact, the fifth meeting of the JWG on ICT held on 7 August 2018 had also talked about 5G telecommunication infrastructure. Both sides had discussed cooperation in the field of cyber security and human resource development in the ICT sector in third countries too.
While India-Japan Annual Summits are being held regularly, ICT is considered as an important area to advance the shared vision for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific.