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Foreign firms should not be allowed in India’s telecommunication sector: SJM

Foreign firms should not be allowed in India’s telecommunication sector: SJM
August 19
10:52 2019

NEW DELHI: Raising national security concerns, an RSS-affiliate Sunday demanded that telecommunications be declared a critical and strategic infrastructure sector disallowing foreign firms, especially Chinese companies, to enter. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) said India’s telecommunications network should be fully indigenised and reserved for domestic companies on security grounds.

“Telecommunications must be declared a critical and strategic infrastructure vital to India’s security. Once this is done, the bans on imports cannot be challenged at the WTO,” SJM national co-convener Ashwani Mahajan told PTI. He also said China today controls a significant section of India’s telecom networks and information dominance is at the core of China’s military strategy.

The SJM also called for the adoption of a “Buy Indian Act” and “Telecom Security Act” by Parliament, much like the US, Australia and New Zealand have done. Mahajan said Indian companies are capable to build a 100 pc indigenous network, but they are not being encouraged by the government like in other foreign countries.

“India must recognise the full extent of the national and economic security threat posed by foreign and especially Chinese equipment in India’s ICT networks,” he said. The Manch held a detailed brainstorming session with a group of world-class, high-tech indigenous cybersecurity SMEs and telecom companies, in which it emerged that Chinese companies, with massive support from their government, vastly outbid Indian companies and win tenders for critical infrastructure.

Mahajan noted that if India adopts 5G, it should be totally indigenous and the Cloud component of 5G Core must be located in India. Funds for development of 6G network should be deployed within the country, as India has the capability for doing this, he said. He said the experts alleged that Indian bidders are forced to adhere to specifications that are not operationally required but are met only by MNCs and are thus discriminated against.

“They get no support from the government while the industries of other countries get full government support,” he alleged. He said the experts opined that even in “Smart City” projects, only foreign companies are winning tenders, though such projects are supposed to help India’s development. Mahajan said the SJM also heard about the world-class capabilities that Indian companies have and despite winning tenders abroad, even against Chinese competition, and the excellence of their products, “they are struggling domestically as government bodies bypass them in favour of lucrative contracts with foreign companies”.

Mahajan called for procurement of only indigenous equipment for telecom networks. Procurement guidelines of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade recently released must be strictly adhered to, he said. “All government and PSU procurements must be made from indigenous manufacturers. Orders diverted from PSUs to private telcos must be restored to PSUs on the condition they procure from domestic manufacturers. “Chinese imports can also be banned for government procurement under clause 10d of the DPIIT policy on Make in India,” he said. PTI

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