Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


India On Path To Digitalization


Dt:  11/5/21

India On Path To Digitalization


Dr T H Chowdary*


17th of May is observed throughout the world as  World Telecom & Information Society Day. The subject  to be deliberated this year is: “Accelerating Digital Transformation In  Challenging Times”. India  has   significant achievements in this regard .  It would be  relevant to recall  what has been done and  what remains to be done in this regard.


2. In 1965 the Chairman of the  world’s largest  telecom company, the  American Telegraph & Telecom Corporation (AT&T) in his annual address  to the  share- holders opined  that  in forceable future  every  person born on this planet will be given a    telephone number  and not a name and if this number  is called and there is no answer, it means, that person is no longer alive.  He foresaw mobile telephony and intelligent telephone instruments which can be   carried by every person either in the  palm or in the pocket . In 1980s  we were exhorting people  to communicate for work and   commute only for  pleasure, again envisaging then telecommunications would be universal, ubiquitous and  affordable  to every person. In the 1990s  I was evangelizing ,  haath haath mein telephone; gaon gaon mein Internet”. It is  these three visionary ideas  that got implemented  in our country by  advocacy for de-monopolization , entry of private  companies into the provision  of services  ; competition and regulation. The private telephone companies (P-Telcos) in India invested Rs. 10 lakh cr in our telecom systems which is  government alone could   not have done.


3. The process started  with the separation of  telecoms from posts the latter half of 1970s  by Sri K Brahmananda Reddy who was then the Minister for Communions in the  GOI. The process was carry  forwarded by  Prime Minister  Sri Rajiv Gandhi who started corporatizing the Departments telecom  services,  Prime Minister Sri  P V Narasimha Rao  permitted the entry of private telephone companies (P-Telcos)  through the  National Telecom Policy 1994 (NTP-’94). The process was  perfected  and concluded by  Prime Minister Sri Atal Behari Vajpay  through  the NTP-1999. The result is that  when once the situation was,  apply apply, no reply and today  for 130 cr Indians we are  having  117 cr  cell phones. The average cost of an years  telephone usage which was equal to per capita income of Rs. 10,000 in 1994 . It is now  Rs. 1800 compared to  the per capita income  of Rs. 1,35,000 . It is  about 175th of  the  per capita income  and is therefore affordable by the poorest of the poor in this  country as Rs. 150 per month  is about  one fourth of  the daily wage of



an unskilled labourer.   The present  day smart telephone  is multi-functional. It has camera . It replaces the lap tops . It has access to the internet,  to GSP to Google to what not through the  internet.  The technological  change has been swift – the old dial/ button telephone has disappeared. There are   no telegraphs, no teleprinters, no  fax machines. Whatever being done earlier  using pen and papers is now done on  the  smart telephone. The  pandemic covid- 19 has  forced the pace of digitalization, paperless offices,  working from home,  online classes and examinations and even voting.   The voting for the  Annual General Body Meetings of large corporations and  professional societies through are done by using the smart mobile telephone and internet.  One need not go to the bank. All transactions of account  holders are done through the  smart telephone - Internet banking. High Courts and Supreme Court  are hearing the petitioners  not through  physical presence but  through video conference.



4. It is sheer thoughtlessness that  canvassing for the  elections and  voting are not migrated to digital media comprising of the  TV  channels,  the internet and the  smart telephone . The  distress and death being caused  by covid -19 because of physical  election rallies  and  physical voting  could have been avoided  by using the digital media. For the last 15 years I have been urging the Election Commission,  political parties  and informing the public  that  we should  be not content  by using Electronic  Voting Machines  (EVMs) but the canvasing and   voting  should  also be migrated to the   electronic  - computer networks.  The gatherings at the  marriages  can also be avoided  by  the marriage  being  performed in the home of the grooms and  made visible through   the hired  satellite  channel   or through a webcasting. The pandemic  has  brought about one desirable change in the   way we work .  93% of the professionals are  working from their homes avoiding  hours of  travel and  atmospheric pollution. That this is so effective is proved by the fact that  all the IT companies have  between 10-15% increase in the revenues and profits  in the  year just passed by. Working from home or communicating for work and commuting only for pleasure is being realized.  


5. India should develop  and produce and deploy its own communication system say the 6G  by creating  Intellectual Property (IP) required which they are doing  now for foreign companies   in India and abroad. That is IP created by Indians but owned by foreigners. Government should launch a dedicated  mission tasked to achieve  the 6th  Generation ( 6G) communication system. That China and Korea have leap-frogged European and American companies  and are  having the 5G communication system should be an inspiration and a lesson for us. (835 words)