Regulators

US and Indian experts agree to work on strengthening Digital India

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NEW DELHI: Indian and American experts have agreed to continue exploring opportunities for collaboration on implementing India’s ambitious Digital India initiative, with the goal of enhancing digital infrastructure, deploying e-governance and e-services, and expanding the diffusion and use of ICT as a tool to expand economic opportunity, boost productivity, create jobs and empower citizens. 

This was decided at the meeting of the United States-India Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Working Group, which promotes development in the ICT sector for mutual benefit was held in Washington, D.C. earlier this week.

The participants noted that the ICT Working Group aims to strengthen collaboration between the governments and private sectors of the two countries in the field of Information and Communications Technology. 

During the two-day working group meeting, US and Indian government representatives held extensive discussions on ICT and telecommunication policy issues, focusing on accelerating broadband deployment, aligning spectrum policy for the mobile era and exchanging views on internet governance and best practices in ICT and telecommunications regulatory policy.

They also discussed issues relating to the international mobility of Indian skilled professionals. The joint government-and-industry discussions included panels on promoting manufacturing and investment; IT and telecom policy developments; Internet governance; mobility of skilled professionals and other issues related to trade, investment, and the ease of doing business. A panel of non-government experts also shared insights on strategies that may help India achieve the goals outlined in the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ initiatives. 

Broad agreement was reached on the importance of policies that promote innovation in the ICT sector, facilitate the flow of data across borders, and foster the global and open nature of the Internet as a platform for economic growth. 

Participants agreed to continue discussion of policies that stimulate rapid diffusion and use of ICT products and services and facilitate cross border trade that reduces costs to consumers and businesses. In this context, the US side noted the Indian concerns with regard to mobility of skilled Indian professionals, and agreed that the US government will continue to engage on visa issues for skilled professionals. In addition, the Indian side noted the US concerns relating to equipment testing and certification, and agreed to engage on issues relating to equipment testing. 

Ambassador Daniel A. Sepulveda, who is Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy at the US Department of State, and R S Sharma who is secretary of the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Communications and Information Technology Ministry, led their respective delegations. 

The United States-India ICT Working Group was hosted by the US Department of State and included representatives from the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Office of the US Trade Representative, the US Trade and Development Agency, the US Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Indian delegation included officials from the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), the Department of Telecom, and the Embassy of India to the United States. 

The United States and India plan to hold the next US-India ICT Working Group in India later this year.

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