1. Two telecom security bodies for shielding telephone
TSD and NTNSCB will frame standards and procedures for testing
network gear and monitoring implementation of the telecom security
policy. While TSD will primarily coordinate work relating to
security policy and project execution, NTNSCB will suggest ways to
address telecom security issues in future and also monitor
implementation of the new standards. India is also readying a cyber
security framework, a cyber security policy and a National Cyber
Coordination Centre that will monitor metadata on cyber traffic
flows. In addition, Department of Telecommunications
("DoT") is working with other concerned
departments to establish testing standards and procedures for
telecom gear and has even sought approval of the National
Information Board on the draft telecom security policy.
PSA view - Pursuant to the concerns raised
regarding Chinese vendors, this step seems to be a logical step
also because India is the largest market for network gears and
should have proper policies to ensure the quality of products.
Earlier the DoT had issued directive to mobile phone companies
mandating them to use equipment deemed safe by an authorized lab in
India from November 1, 2013.
2. The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013
The government has recently introduced in Lok Sabha, the Right
to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013. The Bill proposes to amend
the section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005
("Act") and introduces section 31 to
this Act. Post amendment, the expression authority or body or
institution of self-government established or constituted by any
law made by Parliament shall not include any association or body of
individuals registered or recognised as a political party under the
Representation of the People Act, 1951. Further, the new section 31
says, that the amendment will apply notwithstanding anything
contained in any judgment, decree or order of any court or
commission and will prevail over any other law for the time being
in force. The amendment comes in view of the June 3 order of the
Chief Information Commissioner ("CIC")
to include certain political parties within the ambit of the RTI
Act as they were public authority within the meaning of the Act.
But this is not the first time that the CIC has passed an order
which includes bodies or organisations within the meaning of public
authorities under the Act. Earlier, Public Health Foundation of
India, Indian Olympic Association, Pension Trust, and Chandigarh
Club were also interpreted as public authority within the meaning
of the Act. Once approved, this amendment will retrospectively come
into force from June 3, 2013.
PSA view - The citizen has right to seek
information from a public authority under the Act. The public
authorities under the Act are required to designate Public
Information Officer, who disseminates information to persons
seeking the information under the Act. The Act has not only
empowered the ordinary citizen but has also has enabled to unearth
several scams. This amendment bill, if allowed, will not only
weaken the spirit of the Act but would also trigger a debate as to
who should qualify the definition of public authority within the
meaning of Act.
3. Telecom sector received INR 587.82 billion FDI
The country's telecom sector has received a cumulative FDI
of INR 587.82 billion from April 2000 till May 2013, which accounts
for 7% of the total FDI inflows of the country. The FDI inflow in
the telecom sector was INR 90.12 billion in the year 2011-12.
However, FDI in the sector, which includes radio paging, cellular
mobile, basic telephone services, plunged 81.64% in 2012-13 to INR
106.54 billion mainly on account of economic slowdown and
tough regulatory environment in the country. The telecom industry
at present is facing a hard time and, according to an industry
body's estimates, the telecom industry's total debt
ballooned to INR 2500 billion during 2012-13, from INR 1850 billion
in 2011-12. A large part of the debt had been taken by
companies to fund the purchase of expensive 3G bandwidth through
auctions in 2010.
PSA view - The government has recently approved
100% FDI in the sector which would help the industry get fresh
funds to lower financial burden. The enhancement of FDI cap is
expected to facilitate capital inflows as well as ability of
existing service providers to access lower cost financing. Also, to
augment the FDI in the sector the government is formulating clear
policy regime, National Telecom Policy, 2012, to create an investor
friendly environment for attracting additional investments and to
address policy and regulatory issues to improve the health of the
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