China’s loss could be India’s gain in the ongoing pandemic, according to Minister of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Ravi Shankar Prasad, who held a videoconference with state information technology (IT) ministers on Tuesday.
Prasad said India has the opportunity to promote electronics manufacturing and urged states to work towards attracting investments. As more and more manufacturers look to shift base from China, India’s recent electronics incentives could become an attraction for them.
India’s recently announced production linked incentive 2.0, electronics manufacturing clusters, and scheme for promotion of manufacturing of electronic components and semiconductors, are schemes with a project outlay of Rs 50,000 crore and seek to attract investments in electronics manufacturing sector.
In addition, the minister said the government would extend Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT’s) deadline on relaxation of norms for work from home from April 30 to July 31.
The DoT had given the nod to software services body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) last month to allow IT unit employees, mostly from business process management firms, to work from home until April 30.
The issue dates back to a clause in the earlier telecom policy under which certain kinds of work (such as voice calls) cannot be shifted to employees’ residential premises. However, given the advent of technology, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India had suggested doing away with the clause to allow work from home for business process outsourcing employees.
The government is also monitoring online media platforms’ compliance with the government’s call to remove and monitor fake news and misinformation. “My officers are monitoring it. The companies have said they have made good progress; they have removed many of the contents that were seeking to inflame passions and also roadblocks in the fight against Covid-19. If there is any digression, they’ll have to pay consequences, whether at central or state level, including police action,” he told reporters in a videoconference following the meeting.
In a meeting with state IT ministers, he said, “I reinforced teamwork, sharing the best practices of the Government of India and state governments, and therefore, my departments — National Informatics Centre and National e-Governance Division — will come up with an app in three-four days. I also suggested we have a strategic group of the central government, state governments, IT ministers, and some of the best minds from the IT profession, so that we can leverage ideas.”
The minister also outlined further plans for the government’s Covid-19 contact-tracing app Aarogya Setu. Prasad said the data from Aarogya Setu app should be made available online to states, right up to the district-level officials. He also announced an interactive voice recording system solution is being developed by the DoT and IIT-Madras for feature phone users, given that a substantial number of users still use feature phones in the country. The feature will be launched soon, added Prasad.
He also asked MeitY to explore the possibility of integrating a system for issuing ePass during lockdown with Aarogya Setu — a demand from a few states.