Government Updates

Custom Notification on Mobilephone Parts - 2nd April, 2018

In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 25 of the Customs Act,1962 (52 of 1962), the Central Government, being satisfied that it is necessary in the public interest so to do, hereby makes the following further amendments in the notification of the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance (Department of Revenue), No. 57/2017- Customs, dated the 30th June, 2017, published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part II, Section 3, Sub-section (i), vide, number G.S.R. 798 (E), dated the 30th June, 2017, namely:-

In the said notification, in the Table,-

(i) after serial number 5 and the entries relating thereto, the following serial numbers and entries shall be inserted, namely:-

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
“5A. 8517 70 90, 8525 80 20, 8525 80 90, 8529 90 90 Camera Module for use in manufacture of cellular mobile phones 10% 1
5B. 8517 70 90 Connectors for use in manufacture of cellular mobile phones 10% 1”;

(ii) against serial number 6, in column (3), the items (i), (ii) and (iii) shall be omitted;

(iii) after serial number 6 and the entries relating thereto, the following serial numbers and entries shall be inserted, namely:-

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
“6A. Any Chapter (a) Inputs or parts for use in manufacture of Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) of cellular mobile phones
(b) Inputs or sub-parts for use in manufacture of parts mentioned at (a) above
Nil 1
6B. Any Chapter (a) Inputs or parts for use in manufacture of Camera Module of cellular mobile phones
(b) Inputs or sub-parts for use in manufacture of parts mentioned at (a) above
Nil 1
6C. Any Chapter (a) Inputs or parts for use in manufacture of Connectors of cellular mobile phones
(b) Inputs or sub-parts for use in manufacture of parts mentioned at (a) above
Nil 1

(iv) in the Explanation for the words „For the purposes of this notification‟, the words and figures “For serial numbers 7A, 7B and 7C of this notification” shall be substituted.

Plastic or PVC Aadhaar Smart Card is not usable: UIDAI - 6th February, 2018

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) said today in a statement that the Plastic or PVC Aadhaar smart cards are often not usable as the QR code commonly becomes dysfunctional during such unauthorised printing at some vendor/shop. Also, there could be a possibility of sharing Aadhaar details (personal sensitive demographic information) without informed consent with some devious elements.

UIDAI reiterated that Aadhaar letter or its cutaway portion or downloaded versions of Aadhaar on ordinary paper or mAadhaar are perfectly valid and people should not yearn for the so-called Aadhaar smart card as it may make them fall to the ploys of some unscrupulous elements who are printing Aadhaar on a plastic/PVC sheet and charging anywhere between Rs.50 to Rs.300 or more.

UIDAI has asked people to keep away from such elements/shops/vendors. Dr. Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO, UIDAI said, “So-called Aadhaar Smart card is totally unnecessary and a waste as during such printing its QR code often becomes dysfunctional. The Aadhaar card or the downloaded Aadhaar card printed on ordinary paper or mAadhaar is perfectly valid for all kind of uses.”

“If a person has a paper Aadhaar card, there is absolutely no need to get his/her Aadhaar card laminated or obtain a plastic Aadhaar card or so called smart Aadhaar card by paying money. There is no concept such as smart or plastic Aadhaar card”, added Dr. Pandey.

In case a person loses his Aadhaar card, he can download his Aadhaar card free of cost from The print out of the downloaded Aadhaar card, even in black and white form, is as valid as the original Aadhaar letter sent by UIDAI. There is absolutely no need to print it on plastic/PVC card or get it laminated.

CEO, UIDAI advised people to be watchful for the protection of their privacy and recommended not to share their Aadhaar number or personal details to unauthorized agencies for getting it laminated, or printed on plastic card.

UIDAI has cautioned unauthorized Agencies not to collect Aadhaar information from general public for printing of Aadhaar card as collecting such information or unauthorized printing of Aadhaar card or aiding such persons in any manner amounts to a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment under Indian Penal Code and Aadhaar Act, 2016.

To Incentivise Domestic Value Addition And Make In India, Customs Duty Increased On Mobile Phones And TV Parts - 1st February, 2018

In the first General Budget 2018-19 after the roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Shri Arun Jaitley, made a calibrated departure from the underlying policy in the last two decades, wherein the trend largely was to reduce the customs duty. In the General Budget 2018-19 presented in Parliament here today, Shri Jaitley acknowledged there is substantial potential for domestic value addition in certain sectors, like food processing, electronics, auto components, footwear and furniture. The Finance Minister thus proposed to reduce customs duty on raw cashew from 5% to 2.5% to help the cashew processing industry.

To further incentivise the domestic value addition and Make in India, the Finance Minister proposed to increase customs duty on mobile phones from 15% to 20%, on some of their parts and accessories to 15% and on certain parts of TVs to 15%.“This measure will promote creation of more jobs in the country’ Shri Jaitley added. In fact, this will make the domestic items cheaper than imported ones and will generate more demand which, in turn, will create more employment opportunities for the people at large.

TGeM 3.0 launched - 30th January, 2018

Government e Marketplace (GeM), has been envisaged by Government of India as the National Procurement Portal of India. GeM strives to keep pace with ever-evolving technological challenges and stake holder aspirations and in line with this endeavour, GeM is coming up with a scaled up third version. The GeM 2.0 was launched as a pilot in August 2016 and its success led to this massive transformation program - GeM 3.0 which would offer standardised and enriched catalogue management, powerful search engine, real time price comparison, template-based Bid and RA creation, demand aggregation, e-EMD, e-PBG, user rating, advanced MIS and analytics and more.

Some of the notable enhancements in the 3.0 version:
Market Based generic requirements across all government agencies
Standardisation of specifications of both products and services enabling empirical price comparability
Completely transparent transactions across all ranges
Generic standards established through universal service levels and cost comparison enabled
Open and dynamic market place with rating based on performance of user on website

Coinciding with the migration to the 3.0 version, National Sellers On-boarding Campaign has been launched to train sellers/ service providers for transition from GeM 2.0 to GeM 3.0. All MoU signed 20 State Capitals will be trained by GeM MSP trainers along with Business Groups – CII, ASSOCHAM and PHDCII. Senior Officers from GeM will visit these states to facilitate the transition.

More than 200 people were trained and supported in registering during the walk-in Training cum Registration Centre organised on 27th and 28th in GeM Office (Delhi) from 10am to 6pm. The officers of GeM and training team guided the sellers in registration on the new portal and listing of products. The GeM Contact Centre is also fully functioning during to handle any queries from the sellers.

Commenting on the campaign, Smt. Radha S. Chauhan, IAS, CEO, GeM said, “We are proud to launch this campaign on a day of national importance. Redefining purchase/procurement; enhanced GeM 3.0 platform, delivered and to be operated by Intellect Design Arena Ltd – Managed Services Provider (MSP) and its consortium partners will further the Digital India vision of transparency, openness and fairness. GeM 3.0 has undergone a digital transformation with superior technology and ability to scale from the previous version. This will bring together many sellers and service providers for products and services across the country under one roof, truly making it a digital tool of empowerment and entrepreneurship. This initiative gives a huge uplift for growth of MSME’s, manufacturers & service providers. As Digital India aims to bring in maximum transparency by minimising Government’s human transactional interface, the launch of the Sellers On-boarding Campaign will streamline the procurement of goods and services making it an easy, go-to portal for sellers and service providers”.

Industry & Academia should work towards making India leader in global Digital Space - 19th January, 2018

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEIT) on yesterday organized a day long workshop on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its applications for good governance. Held under the chairmanship of Hon’ Minister for Electronics and Information Technology, Over 30 representatives from the industry and academia took part in the workshop. These include AI experts from the IITes at Kharagpur, Madras, Hyderabad and Patna. Industry representatives included Microsoft, Google, IBM, Accenture, NVIDIA. NASSCOM and IIIT Hyderabad also gave their views on the strategy to take advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology.

Union Minister of Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice, SH. Ravi Shankar Prasad has called upon industry and academia engaged in the development and use of AI to join hands in developing AI model which is capable of addressing complex problems in the field of health, education, agriculture and governance. Speaking at the workshop held here to exchange ideas on the use of AI for good governance, he said the government was keen to support such initiative as its development model is based on inclusive growth. He went on to add that AI had the potential to leapfrog India to its true potential of being a world leader in the digital space.

Acknowledging, the work that has already been done in the field by the US and China, the Minister added that India’s model of uptake and scale-up of AI will be one that is indigenous to India and is built on the principle of augmenting intelligence and not the displacement of jobs. He underscored his government’s commitment to retraining and skilling people such that they are able to adapt, adopt and thrive in the dynamically changing society. The Minister also emphasized the need for taking a multi-stakeholder approach to developing the ecosystem for AI in India, committing that the government to its end would help facilitate interactions between the industry, government and academia and will come up with a robust legal framework for the same.

The industry and academia present in the workshop were unanimous in seeking support for getting clean data for evolving effective solutions through the application of AI. They also opined that the government should define policy priorities in the application of AI. This would facilitate them in pursuing a strategy that would benefit the country most. Data has to be available for innovation and India being a country with large number of languages and dialects need to translate data in a usable format. Country has all ingredients to be a hub center for data analysis.

During the discussions that followed the presentations made by various stakeholders, there was unanimous agreement amongst the participants that India should focus its AI initiative to solving complex development challenges. The participants suggested that AI applications had a potential to help improve food and water security for the country, help improve traffic management and also help expedite particular types of cases in the judiciary. Responding to a query raised by one of the participants, the Minister said that data privacy is an important tenet of an individual’s rights, but also stressed on the point that innovation cannot be curbed under the garb of privacy. The Minister also mentioned that the country is well set to bring out a comprehensive policy on Data Protection and a committee under Justice (retd.) Sri Krishna will shortly finalize its recommendations.

Indian Railways introduces OCR Kiosk Machines for quick printing of tickets booked through UTS Mobile App for suburban commuters - 11th January, 2018

Indian Railways continues to take steps based on new technology to facilitate execution of its various activities. It has now been decided to introduce modern Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Kiosk Machines for quick & easy printing of tickets booked through UTS App for mobile phones by suburban commuters.

Western Railway (Hqrs. Mumbai) becomes first railway zone to introduce this facility for its Mumbai suburban commuters of Western Railway. This new facility will make printing of tickets much simpler and quicker. Under this facility just by simply placing the screen of mobile phone displaying the SMS of the ticket booked through UTS Mobile App in the designated slot provided in the OCR Kiosk machine and the machine will simply read the SMS and print ticket immediately.

In the first phase, 25 OCR Kiosks have been planned by Western Railway for installation, out of which 20 Kiosks have been installed and became functional w.e.f today i.e. 11th January, 2018 on five Mumbai Suburban Stations of Western Railway namely Churchgate (1 Kiosk), Dadar (6 Kiosks), Bandra (3 Kiosks), Andheri (5 Kiosks), and Borivali (5 Kiosks). In addition, installation of five more OCR Kiosks at Churchgate is under process and will be installed shortly.

The use of these Kiosks will facilitate the passengers to get print-out of tickets booked through UTS mobile app and also reduce the queues at booking counters/ATVM machines thereby promoting transactions through UTS mobile app. Presently, passengers have to feed their mobile number and booking ID received on their mobiles, in the ATVM machines to get their tickets printed or get it through UTS counter. This new facility of simply placing the screen displaying the SMS in the designated slot provided in the Kiosk will also reduce the time of printing of tickets as the machine will simply read the SMS and print tickets immediately.

BharatNet Phase 1: Target Achieved Through Meticulous Planning and Focused Implementation at Ground Level - 8th January, 2018

Government has achieved a significant milestone under the BharatNet by completing Phase-1 of the project by connecting over one lakh Gram Panchayats (GP) across the country with high speed optical fibre network as per the declared deadline of 31 Dec 2017. BharatNet network built under Phase 1 envisages delivery of high-speed broadband services in over 2.5 lakh villages benefitting more than 200 million rural Indians.

At a function held here, Union Minister for Communications Shri Manoj Sinha said that the vision and the mission of the country is to connect India to realise the goal of Prime Minister’s Digital India by bridging the digital divide. Describing the BharatNet as the world’s largest rural broadband project created on the mantra of Create, Collaborate and Conquer, Shri Sinha said that the project will generate massive employment opportunities both direct and indirect in the country in days to come. He underlined the need to complete the 2nd phase of the BharatNet well before the target of March, 2019 to usher in a rural digital revolution by connecting 2 lakh and 50,000 Gram Panchayats with broadband network. The Minister asked the officials to include and enforce the clause of financial incentive for speedy execution of Phase-2 of the project and said that the infrastructure created under BharatNet will be a national asset, accessible on a non-discriminatory basis to the service providers. The project aims to provide affordable broadband services to citizens and institutions in rural and remote areas, in partnership with States and the private sector.

Under Phase 1 of the project, till 31st May 2014 the work had been started in 4,918 GPs and 358 km Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) was pulled and only 59 GPs were made service ready. Till 30th June 2016 work had been started in 84,834 GPs and 1,24,817 km OFC pulled covering 53,557 GPs with 7,229 GPs made Service Ready. As on 31st Dec 2017, 2,54,895 km OFC has been laid covering 1,09,926 GPs out of which 1,01,370 GPs have been made Service Ready.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, Department of Telecom Ms Aruna Sundararajan said that to complete the Phase-1 of BharatNet, the entire eco-system of the department responded to the call of the Hon’ble Minister Shri Manoj Sinha. She said that it has given boost to Make-in-India as the key highlight of the project is that the telecom equipment deployed in it has been fully designed, developed and manufactured in India. She said that the project also achieved a global record of laying of 800 kilometres of optical fibre per day. She said that the BharatNet infrastructure is expected to catalyse digital delivery of services for the rural poor – viz. health, education, livelihood, skills, e-agriculture and e-commerce. The tariff for BharatNet was also revised to attract more Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to use the infrastructure to provide high-speed broadband services in the rural areas through Wi-Fi, FTTH, and for developing utilisation models by TSPs and Common Service Centres (CSC).

The Department of Telecom felicitated the key performers and stakeholders who significantly contributed to achieve the target. Shri Manoj Sinha gave away the awards for the Best Performing States, States which covered all the GPs, Best Utilisation of BharatNet, Best performing implementation partners, Best performing equipment supply partners, Best performing OFC supply partners, Best technology partners, and significant individual contributors.

Under the award categories, UP(East), Maharashtra, MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand were adjudged as the Best performing States which implemented BharatNet Phase 1. Kerala, Karnataka and Haryana were the States which covered all the GPs under the Project. Karnataka bagged the award for Best Utilisation of BharatNet. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and CSC e-Governance Services India Ltd received the awards for the Best performing implementation partners. While Tejas Networks and Indian Telephone Industries Ltd were honoured with the Best performing equipment supply partners, Finolex Cables, Sterlite Technologies and Vindhya Telelinks Ltd were bestowed with the Best performing Optical Fibre Cable( OFC) supply partners. Centre for Development of Telematics(CDOT) and National Informatics Centre(NIC) were given the Best technology partners award.

Shri Mahmood Ahmed, JAF, USOF, Shri Rupendra Kumar, Director(BB), USOF, Smt. Deepika Khosla, CGM, BBNL, Shri Deepak Chanduka, CGM, BBNL, Shri Shahnawaz Alam, CGM, BBNL, Shri Anil Kumar Gupta, CGM, BBNL, Shri Vinod Kumar, CGM, BBNL, Shri P K Panda, GM, BBNL and Shri B P Meena, GM, BBNL received the Significant individual contributors’ award from the Minister.

Ministry of Electronics & IT Key Achievements: 2017 - 29th December, 2017

Digital India, the flagship project of the Government of India, has made rapid progress in the year 2017. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY), as a key ministry under the Government of India and the enabler of Digital India programme, has undertaken numerous revolutionary initiatives in the area of IT/ ITeS and electronic manufacturing that have put India on the global map and went on to become case studies for the reputed Universities across the globe. Having covered over 99% of the adult population of the country through the unique identity Aadhaar, the country is now looking at embracing the second phase of Digital India.

The year saw a 27% jump in the investment on electronic manufacturing where the total volume of investment reached 1.57 lakh crore in 2017 vis-à-vis 1.43 lakh crore in 2016; this was only 11,000 crore in 2014. There has been almost 60% rise on the production of mobile phones to reach 17.5 crore units vis-s-vis 11 crore units last year, adding 4 lakh direct and indirect jobs in the sector; this was only 6 crore units in 2014-15. Digital transactions witnessed a growth of over 300% during this year.

In 2017, the Government of India has introduced many pro-people IT initiatives that have transformed the governance system for good. Some of the key initiatives that were pushed forward included India BPO Promotion Scheme, Software Procurement Policy for faster delivery and effective monitoring of services, Tele-Law through CSCs to Mainstream Legal Aid in Rural India, amongst others. The CSCs (Common Services Centers) have been effectively used to reach out to the last miles and bridge the gaps between urban and rural sector, between digital haves and have-nots.

Enlisted below are some of the data points that substantiate the country’s march towards a robust digital economy:
The Mobile Phone Revolution: Today India is home to 121 Crore Mobile Phone users, compared to 103 crore in 2016.
Smartphone Users: The number of smart-phone users have grown from 30 crore in 2016 to 40 crore in 2017
Internet Users: The number of internet users have grown from 40 crore in 2016 to 50 crore in 2017

Growth in Mobile Phone Manufacturing:
Jump of 60% in terms of units made. Manufacturing of mobile phones has reached 17.5 Crore units in 2016-17 from 11 crore in 2015-16.
105 mobile/ ancillary manufacturing units
Created 4 lakh direct and indirect jobs since 2014 of which 2.4 lakh added in 2017
Aadhaar: With an objective to empower residents of India with a unique identity and a digital platform to authenticate anytime, anywhere, Aadhaar today is the world’s largest biometrics based digital identity system. Total number of Aadhaar account holders reached 119 Crore in 2017 compared to 104 Crore in 2016. Aadhaar is being used as a digital platform to enhance governance.

Jeevan Pramaan: It is an Aadhaar based platform for biometric authentication of the pensioners and senior citizens. Since its launch on 10 November 2014, over 150.15 lakh pensioners have registered on the portal till date, which was 16.54 lakh in 2016. Digital Locker System (DigiLocker): DigiLocker, launched in July 2016, serves as a platform to enable citizens to securely store and share their documents with service providers electronically after giving due permission. So far, over 197 crore document have been placed in DigiLocker enabling access to over 88 lakh users. For the first time both CBSE 10th Class results and NEET Results were also sent digitally into Digital Locker.

Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) through Aadhaar Payment Bridge (APB): A total of Rs. 2.43 Lakh Crore have been disbursed through Aadhaar based DBT to beneficiaries of 394 government schemes which have led to saving of Rs. 57,000 Crore in the last 3 years by removing fictitious claimants. Through this process a total of 2.33 Cr. bogus ration cards and 3 crore fake LPG connections were identified

e-Taal (Electronic Transaction Aggregation & Analysis Layer): There has been a stupendous growth in e-Transactions in various e-Governance services. Today, e-Taal registers 4.5 crores transactions per day which grew from 2.07 crore in 2016 thereby integrating over 3506 e-Services.

Common Services Centres (CSCs): CSCs are the world’s largest digital service delivery network. These information and communication technology enabled kiosks with broadband connectivity has been providing various governments, private and social services at the doorsteps of citizen.

Today, around 2.7 lakh CSCs are active and offering digital services like Aadhaar enrolment, Ticket booking, of utilities and other eGovernance services to citizens from 1.68 Lakh Gram Panchayets, which was only 2.29 Lakh 2016. MyGov: This is a citizen-centric digital collaboration platform that empowers people to connect with the Government & contribute towards good governance. Started on July 26th 2014 and with a modest 8.74 lakh users in the first year, today MyGov has over 50 lakh active users under 64 groups who contribute their ideas through 756 discussion groups and participate through 701 earmarked tasks, that has grown from 36 lakh active users in 2016.

Other noteworthy achievements: India BPO Promotion Scheme: 18,160 seats of BPO already allocated. Another 13822 sect allocation nearing finalisation
Jan Dhan Accounts: 30 Crore
Jan Suraksha Schemes Registrations: 15 Crore
MUDRA: 9 lakh people got Rs. 4 lakh Crores of loan
Soil Health Card: 9.5 Crore cards made
eNAM: 50 lakh registered farmers; 455 Agri Markets linked
National Scholarship Portal: 1.4 Crore students registered
GeM: 4600 byers, 14,512 sellers registered

Year End Review-2017: Ministry of Communications - 28th December, 2017

  1. Launch of National EMF Portal: Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has launched Tarang Sanchar, a web portal of information sharing on Mobile Towers and EMF Emission Compliances, with a view to generate confidence and conviction with regard to safety and harmlessness from mobile towers, clearing any myths and misconceptions. The portal can be accessed at The EMF portal provides a public interface where an easy map-based search feature has been provided for viewing the mobile towers in vicinity of any locality. By click of a button, information on EMF compliance status of mobile towers can be accessed. Detailed information about any tower site, if requested, will be sent on email to the users. Additionally, any person can request for EMF emission measurement at a location by paying a nominal fee of ₹4000/- online. Local Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) field unit of DoT will conduct the test (the requestor can be present, if he so desires) and the test reports will be provided. The portal also has ‘EMF Overview’ and ‘Learn’ Sections, which provide numerous articles, booklets and videos, to further educate the citizens about EMF and coverage of telecom services. Public can also access the ‘DoT Initiatives section’ which has various leaflets, articles and Frequently Asked Questions. The portal has the complete collated technical details of over 16.33 lakh base stations (BTSs), spread across the country, of all technologies (2G, 3G, 4G etc.) and of all Telecom Service Providers (TSPs).
  2. Public Awareness Programmes on EMF emission issue: The nation-wide Awareness Programme, on EMF Emissions & Telecom Towers to build a direct bridge of engagement between different stakeholders and to fill the information gap with scientific evidence, initiated by DoT in 2016-17, have further been followed up at sub-state level by the TERM field units of DoT so that more and more people are made aware about the scientific facts on health effects of EMF emissions from mobile towers. Pamphlets/Information Brochures on various topics related to EMF have also been published and distributed in various regional languages. These programmes have helped in bringing lot of clarity on this issue and resulted in reduction of new court cases, public grievances and RTI on the related matters.
  3. Launch of Satellite based mobile services through Satellite Gateway M/s BSNL: The Department of Telecommunications granted a License under ‘Suigeneris’ category to M/s BSNL on 25.08.2014 for “Provision and Operation of Satellite based service using Gateway installed in India” with all India service area on non-exclusive basis. This work has been carried out by M/s BSNL in partnership with M/s INMARSAT and the Satellite Gateway has been installed at Ghaziabad, UP. The Satellite mobile services through the BSNL Gateway have been inaugurated on 24.05.2017. This is a quantum leap in the field of Telecommunications to connect the un-connected through the provisioning of satellite mobile services across the country. The services are being provisioned in phased manner initially for the government agencies such as Defence Services, Disaster Management Authorities, Parliamentary Forces, Railways, PSUs etc. and subsequently for the common public.
  4. Launching of schemes under Skill Development: Hon’ble MoSC (IC) has launched two schemes in the domain of Skill Development in Telecom Sector to commemorate the Birth Centenary of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhayaji as under:
    • (i) Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Sanchar Kaushal Vikas Pratisthans Scheme - It is a Pilot scheme which proposes to create the skill development training centres that will be opened in various rural, backward and other needy areas and will be named as “Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Sanchar kaushal Vikas Pratisthans”. Initially in the Pilot phase, it is proposed to start 10 such centres to impart skill development trainings to 10,000 candidates taking the necessary training infrastructure from BSNL/other PSUs/Government Organisations/Private entities etc. Subsequently, as the scheme succeeds it will be spread to open more ‘Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Sanchar Kaushal Viksa Pratisthans’ across the nation.
    • (ii) Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Telecom Skill Excellence Awards schems: This scheme is aimed to recognize the special contributions of citizens of India in the areas of Telecom Skilling, Telecom Services, Telecom Manufacturing, Telecom Applications in deploying telecom dependent sectoral solutions for different fields such as agriculture, commerce, health, education etc.
  5. Growth in Telecom Sector:
    • The growth of Telecom Sector in our country has been remarkable over the last few years as a result of key reforms and initiatives undertaken by the Department of Telecommunications. The industry has also wholeheartedly participated in the development efforts. From 898.02 million in 2012-13, total telecom connections in the country reached 1194.99 million in 2016-17, registering a growth of 33.07%. As on end of September 2017, the total subscription stood at 1207.04 million out of which 501.99 million connections were in the rural areas and 705.05 million in the urban areas. Wireless telephony now constitutes 98.04% of all subscriptions whereas share of landline telephones now stands at 1.96% at the end of September 2017.The overall tele-density in India is now at a high of 93.42% with tele-density in rural areas being 56.78% and that in urban areas at 172.86%.
    • The Government has placed considerable emphasis on growth of internet and broadband in the country as part its Digital India campaign. The number of Internet subscribers (both broadband and narrowband put together) which was 422.18 million at the end of March, 2017 increased to 431.21 million by the end of June'17. The number of subscribers accessing internet via wireless phones etc. was 409.55 million at the end of June'17. The number of wired Internet subscribers was 21.67 million at the end of June'17. The number of Broadband subscribers was 300.84 million at the end of June, 2017. There was a net increase of 9.03 million in the Internet subscribers during the period from March,2017 to June,2017.
    • FDI equity inflow in the telecom sector touched US $ 6.08 billion in the first half of the financial year (April to September, 2017). This is more than four times that the sector witnessed during financial year 2015-16 and around 10% more than that during 2016-17.
Important Achievements of Department of Posts
  1. Implementation of Core Banking Solutions in the Department of Posts
  • The Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) was started in 1882 to facilitate small savings in the country. It operates as an agency of the Ministry of Finance and caters to the basic savings needs of the citizens.
  • All the 1.55 Lakh Post Offices in the country provide the basic banking products of the POSB. Of these 25,353 are departmental Post Offices which are manned by the regular government employees.
  • At the end of March 2017, there were35.62 Cr live accounts with a balance of Rs. 5,32,338 Crore and Savings certificates with an outstanding balance of Rs. 1,98,935 Crore
  • The Post Offices were operating on a standalone software which operated in a closed environment.
  • Many value added services like ATMs, inter branch banking, Internet and mobile banking, DBT etc were not available to the POSB customers.
Challenges faced:
  • Though an impressive customer base, the banking services were not upto industry standards.
  • As the complexity of services grew, it became difficult to monitor it on the old system.
  • Government schemes of DBT, financial inclusion and social security could not be serviced on the old software.
  • Modern payment systems like Debit cards, AEPS, APBS, Internet and mobile banking were not available.
  • Thus there was an urgent need for introduction of a Core Banking Solution (CBS) software in the POSB at par with the banks.
  • The project of CBS was conceived as a part of the overall IT modernization project 2012 of the DoP. The project aimed to introduce CBS in all the 25,353 departmental Post Offices.
  • The sheer size of the number of offices, the data to be migrated, connectivity and the tight timeline were the biggest challenges to be overcome.
  • The RFP for this was floated on 21.12.2010 and was awarded on 12.03.2012
  • Special teams were formed at the Directorate, Chennai and all the administrative units to take this up in a project mode.
  • The huge data was cleansed, verified, checked and rechecked to avoid any errors in migration to the new system.
  • Efforts were made to verify all the passbooks of the customers one at a time to verify their balances.
  • Infrastructure was upgraded wherever required to support the software.
  • Monitoring played a key role in the project. Regular reports, Video Conferences, meetings, field visits and web based monitoring was used extensively to track the progress.
  • A big task was change management, internal communication and training of more than one lakh employees in the new software. This was managed through training in the Postal Training Centres, Work Place training Centres, Regional, Circle and Divisional Office levels. Officials were provided handholding by internal teams to make them feel comfortable.
  • Frequent interactions were arranged for the employees, unions and officers to listen to their grievances and give them the ownership of the project.
  • With this preparation in the background, the first Post Office of the country, Greams Road, Sub Post Office was migrated to CBS on 16.12.2013
Key results:
  • 23,424 out of a total of 25,353 (92%) Post Offices are on the CBS platform as on 11/10/2017. Thus the POSB is the largest entity in the country on the CBS platform surpassing all the banks. This feat was achieved in less than four years.
  • A total of 37.62 Cr accounts and 31.79 Crore savings certificates are on the CBS platform for anywhere banking as of 11/10/2017.
  • 991 of the proposed 1000 ATMs are functional in the country. The ATMs are interoperable with other banks.
  • Customers can access their CBS POSB account from anywhere in the country
  • Greater visibility of transactions for better reporting and monitoring.
  • Internet and Mobile banking in closed environment is ready for roll out.
  • A significant step towards financial inclusion as all these CBS accounts can be used for MGNREGS, DBT, social security pensions and other programs of the Government of India. CBS can also be integrated with AEPS and APBS.
  • The data and CBS environment is ready for providing CBS based services even to the rural areas through handheld devices in 1.3 lakh Branch Post Offices.
  • Introduction of operational hygiene and system at par with other banks.
  • Saving of time for the customers as the transactions are online and happen in real time.
  • Provision of alternate banking channels like ATMs, Internet and Mobile banking to customers.
  • Services like RTGS, NEFT, POSB debit cards at POS as digital payments, full fledged internet and mobile banking can be provided with India Post Payment Bank (IPPB) in near future.

India Post Payments Bank will help in financial inclusion-Manoj Sinha - 9th October, 2017

Minister for Communications Shri Manoj Sinha today said that Government is working on setting up 650 India Post Payments Bank and gearing up fast to provide its financial services through all of 1.55 lakh post offices to fulfil the Prime Minister’s vision of financial inclusion. Speaking here on the occasion of World Post Day, he said that Indian Postal Department is undergoing major transformationwith changing times, be it the inter-operability of ATMs, core banking or providing of Passport Seva and Aadhar enrolment. He said that so far 57 Post Offices are providing Passport Seva and in coming days 93 more will be added to the list.

Shri Sinha launched International Tracked Packetservice designed speciallyto meet the cross border requirements of e-Commerce sector in Asia-Pacific Region. He said, at the beginning, the service will be available to 12 countries and gradually the whole world will be covered. This new service has many special features like affordable price, track & trace, volume discounts, pick up facility, compensation for loss or damage and, therefore, high value for money.He said, with the launch of this service, Department of Posts is set to start a new chapter of close collaboration between the post office and the business in India that want to reach to their customers abroad.

The Minister also launched e-IPO (Indian Postal Order) in the denominations of Rs. 10/-, Rs. 20/-, Rs. 50/- &Rs. 100/-, as a pilot project in Bihar, Delhi and Karnataka and said that in the next two months, the service will cover the entire country.e-IPO will be used for all purposes like fee payment for RTI/ educational institutions/ Court/ online registration for Cable Operators etc. Customer can purchase e-IPO online from one’s home or workplace, as per one’s convenience. This launch is a part of Digital India Initiative as the payment will be made through Debit Card/ Credit Card / Net Banking.eIPO can be purchased online at:, it can also be accessed through a link at Official website of India Post i.e.

Shri Sinha also unveiled the revamped website of the India Post which is made more user-friendly and informative to meet the need of customers in a better way. The citizens shall benefit by getting relevant information fast and in a user- friendly manner.

During the function, commemorative stationery in the Post Card, Inland Letter and Envelope Category, each featuring five postal heritage buildings viz. Patna G.P.O, Delhi G.P.O, Mumbai G.P.O, Shimla G.P.O & Kolkata G.P.O.was also issued.For the first time, the stationery has been issued in multi-colour format.

Members of Parliament Ms. MeenakshiLekhi, Dr.Udit Raj and Shri Ramesh Bidhuri graced the occasion as guest of honour. Secretary (Posts) Shri A. N. Nanda and Member (Planning) Ms. MeeraHanda were also present on the occasion.

India Post celebrates the National Postal Week every October from 9th to 15th October, starting with World Post Day which is celebrated each year on 9th October, the anniversary of the establishment of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) in 1874 in Berne. The purpose of World Post Day is to create awareness of the role of the postal sector in people’s and businesses’ everyday lives and its contribution to the social and economic development of countries. Moving a step ahead, Department of Posts celebrates National Postal Week undertaking programme/ activities aimed at generating a broader awareness of its role and activities among the public and media on a national scale.

India Joins Race in 5G Ecosystem, Constitutes High Level Forum on 5G India 2020 - 26th September, 2017

India is at the cusp of a next generation of wireless technology 5G. 5G has been conceived as a foundation for expanding the potential of the Networked Society. A digital transformation brought about through the power of connectivity is taking place in almost every industry. The landscape is expanding to include massive scale of “smart things” to be interconnected. Therefore, the manner in which future networks will cope with massively varied demands and a business landscape will be significantly different from today.

The economic benefits from the 5G technology are also quite immense. As per the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Committee on Digital Economic Policy, it has been stated that 5G technologies rollout will help in,

a) Increasing GDP
b) Creating Employment
c) Digitizing the economy

For India, 5G provides an opportunity for industry to reach out to global markets, and consumers to gain with the economies of scale. Worldwide countries have launched similar Forums and thus, India has joined the race in 5G technologies. We are open for collaboration with them.

Government has constituted High Level 5G India 2020 Forum with three Secretaries of key Ministries/Departments Telecom, Meity and DST, and also comprising of renowned experts like Dr. A. Paulraj, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University, USA, Mr Gururaj Deshpande - Chairman of Sycamore Networks, Sandstone, USA, Indian industry led by CEOs of ICT industry, Telecom Standard Development Organisation of India (TSDSI), Professors from IIT Madras, IIT Mumbai, IIT Delhi, IIT Hyderabad, IISc Bengaluru, IT industry and stakeholders from industry associations.

The Term of Reference of the High Level Forum for 5G India 2020 shall be: -
a) Vision Mission and Goals for the 5G India 2020, and
b) Evaluate, approve roadmaps & action plans for 5G India 2020.

The primary goals of the forum are to achieve:
  • early deployment of 5G in India
  • a globally competitive product development and manufacturing ecosystem targeting 50% of India market and 10% of global market over next 5 to 7 years.

The forum will complement the eco-system by focused actions in the following areas: development, standards development and proof of concepts through research projects, PPP projects, testbeds and pilot roll-outs.
  • Regulatory Framework – including spectrum assignments and a start-up friendly regulatory environment to enable leap-frog and embracing of innovative technologies.
  • Inclusive Business environment – with special focus on investment incentives favourable to start-ups and innovators and enablement of Venture capitalists.

Forum will constitute a number of Steering Committees in different domains.
A vibrant eco-system of research built around 5G that encompasses Industry, Government and Academia will further strengthen the MAKE (& DESIGN) in INDIA initiatives to enable:
  • Design and manufacture of 5G technologies, products and solutions in India;
  • 5G start-ups that enable this design and manufacturing capabilities;
  • Generation of IPR backing the above designs;
  • India based companies should have some essential IPR in the 5G standard;
  • Manufacture of 5G chipsets, this may require massive investments;
  • Appropriate testbeds and technology platforms to enable and help Indian technical ecosystem to have an edge in 5G;
  • Accelerated deployment of next generation ubiquitous ultra-high broadband infrastructure with 100% coverage of 10 Gbps across urban India and 1 Gbps across Rural India.

Cabinet approves hiving off mobile tower assets of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited into a separate company, fully owned by BSNL - 12th September, 2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for hiving off mobile tower assets of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) into a separate company, fully owned by BSNL.

This approval authorizes BSNL to monetize its telecom tower infrastructure with the formation of a separate subsidiary company.

There are around 4,42,000 mobile towers in the country out of which more than 66,000 mobile tower are of BSNL. An independent, dedicated tower company of BSNL with a focused approach will lead to increasing of external tenancies and consequentially higher revenue for the new company.

Background: The telecom tower industry has emerged as an independent business to harness the potential for sharing of infrastructure. The business model arose from the need to achieve economies of scale and to reduce capital investment costs for providing mobile services. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) policy allows sharing of passive infrastructure i.e. the tower structure, Diesel Generator sets, battery units, power interface unit, air-conditioning etc., which has facilitated the growth of the telecom infrastructure industry. A tower infrastructure company essentially owns the passive infrastructure asset and leases it to telecom service providers enabling them to minimize duplication of investments and economize on costs of Operation and Maintenance (O&M), thereby improving profitability.

Besides the captive model in BSNL and MTNL where the service provider owns their passive infrastructure also, there are three different business models within the telecom tower industry:- companies created by hiving off the tower assets portfolios of service providers into subsidiaries, companies established as independent joint venture entities by service providers jointly and companies promoted by specific service providers but established as independent entities with the promoter being the anchor tenant for the tower company.

EESL to procure 50 lakh Smart Meters for realization of Smart Grids in India - 25th August, 2017

Energy Efficiency Services Ltd. (EESL), under the Ministry of Power, Government of India had put out a mega tender for procurement of 50 lakh smart meters in July, which would help in reducing AT&C losses, power theft and also help in monitoring of round the clock power supply eventually leading to greater efficiency and 24X7 power for all.

A Pre-Bid Meeting was held by EESL on 22nd August 2017 for procurement of 50 lakh smart meters which elicited a stellar response from the smart meter manufacturers, system integrators and has also excited various other stakeholders including World Bank and telecom operators etc. The interest shown by the smart meter fraternity is also evident from the participation of about 100 companies in the pre-bid meeting and is a measure of the potential which smart projects have in India.

EESL will be making the entire upfront investment as well as maintain the whole infrastructure for the next ten years. This approach has made the project feasible as most of the state utilities are not in a position for such rollouts due to their financial constraints. EESL will recover its investment from the savings accruing to the DISCOMs in subsequent years.

The meters are being procured for implementation of smart grid projects in the states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. These meters will help these states in not only significantly reducing their AT&C losses way of increased billing efficiency, but will completely change the way in which electrical energy is presently being consumed and paid for by the ordinary consumers.

Installation of these smart meters along with its associated communication and IT infrastructure will enable the DISCOMs to obtain real time energy consumption data of each consumer for subsequent analysis and will pave the way for initiating various smart measures by DISCOMs like Time Of Day (TOD)/Time Of Use (TOU) billing, prediction and management of peak demand, providing real time energy consumption data to consumer, prepaid billing facility, remote connection and disconnection of load, accurate billing, etc. Installation of these meters will also obviate the need for the meter reader’s visit to each and every consumer.

In order to make the entire project feasible and affordable, EESL has unbundled the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project into two parts viz. procurement of smart meter and arranging the system integrator. EESL is also planning to issue the tender for selection of system integrator early next month, as second part of the AMI project.

Senior officials of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh DISCOMs were present in the pre-bid meeting along with representatives from DISCOMs of Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha, as well as senior officials from CEA, NSGM etc.

Indian Telecom Market is expected to cross the Rs 6.6 trillion revenue mark by the year 2020-Manoj Sinha - 2nd August, 2017

The Minister of Communications Shri Manoj Sinha today said that the Indian telecom industry has seen a paradigm shift from a voice centric market to a data-centric market. While voice business still contributes a large chunk towards operator revenues, data revenues have shown an exponential growth trajectory over the last few years. Speaking at a Workshop on Telecom India here, the Minister said that by the end of 2016 the number of internet subscribers in India was 391.50 million making India globally the 2nd highest in terms of internet users.

He said that mobile data traffic also grew by 76 per cent in India in 2016 primarily attributed to increased smart phone penetration. This growing usage of smart phones, especially in urban areas, has increased the usage of internet on hand-held devices – in 2016, 559 megabytes of mobile data was generated per month by an average smart phone, up from 430megabytes per month in 2015.Consumption of video content is also forecasted to be 75 percent of India’s mobile data traffic by 2021, compared to 49 percent in 2016.

Shri Sinha said that advancements in innovative IoT technologies, like health monitors, smart transport, smart meters among others, is projected to result in 21 per cent increase in M2M services. These advances will result in a significant growth of mobile data, and as the telecom sector moves to newer technologies, TSPs will need to identify innovative avenues to monetise this data opportunity. He said that Indian Telecom Market is expected to cross the INR 6.6 trillion revenue mark by the year 2020.

The Minister said that Indian Government had launched the ‘Digital India’ initiative in July 2015 which had three broad targets – providing Digital Infrastructure as a core utility to every citizen, Governance and Services on Demand as well as Digital empowerment of citizens.

Shri Sinha said that one of the projects under the ‘Digital India’ initiative was ‘BharatNet’, launched to deploy high-speed optical fiber cables to connect 2.5 lakh Gram Panchayat across the country by 2018. This project would also help in increasing the fiberized sites in India which currently stands at less than 20 per cent as compared to other developed countries. The project is being implemented in Phases, with more than100,000 gram panchayats connected under Phase-I as of July2017 and states like Kerala, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh neared 100 per cent completion.

The Minister also outlined the major achievements of the Indian Telecom Industry-
  • Over 400 million internet users
  • FDI quadrupled in FY2016-17 recording inflow of approximately USD 5.6 billion
  • Greater than 20 per cent tower sites now diesel free
  • Rural Tele density increased by 30 per cent over the last five years
  • More than 3/4th of the data consumption was from 3G/4G
  • Telecom industry generates over 4 million jobs direct and indirect
  • LTE device ecosystem grew by 270 per cent from 2015
  • 38 new mobile manufacturing units set up since September 2015
  • 30 new locations added to ‘Smart City’ mission in June 2017, total count reaches 90 smart cities
  • The government, is also working aggressive to connect 54,000 unconnected villages and would speed up its efforts after getting due reports from all states.
  • There is the inter-ministerial group to look into the financial health of the sector.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, Telecom, Ms Aruna Sundararajan said that in tune with the vision of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, India is attempting to do nothing short of charting a new digital strategy for growth. She said that new Telecom Policy will be a key building block for achieving the growth target of 10 percent from the current 7.6 percent as Telecom and IT are the two sectors contributing to 16.5 percent to the GDP, and there are immense possibilities for it to go up to 25 percent.

Justice Krishna to head expert group on Data Protection Framework for India - 1st August, 2017

Recognising the importance of data protection and keeping personal data of citizens secure and protected, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India has, on 31st July 2017, constituted a Committee of Experts under the Chairmanship of Justice B N Srikrishna, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India and comprising of members from Government, Academia and Industry to study and identify key data protection issues and recommend methods for addressing them. The committee will also suggest a draft Data Protection Bill. Protection of Data is expected to provide big boost to Digital economy of the country.

India to have 600 million broadband connections by 2020 - 28th July, 2017

The Minister for Communications Shri Manoj Sinha said that as per information provided by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), there were 422.19 million broadband subscribers and the internet penetration (internet subscriber per 100 populations) was 32.86% in the country as on 31st March 2017. In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, he said that the National Telecom Policy-2012 envisages 600 million broadband connections by the year 2020.

He further informed that the Government has planned the BharatNet project to provide 100 Mbps broadband connectivity to all Gram Panchayats (approx. 2.5 lakh) in the country. Under first phase of the project, 1 lakh Gram Panchayats (GPs) are to be connected by laying underground Optical Fibre Cable(OFC) which is under implementation. Under Phase-II, targeted to be completed by March 2019, connectivity will be provided to remaining 1.5 lakh GPs in the country using an optimal mix of underground fibre, fibre over power lines, radio and satellite media.

The Minister said that the provision of last mile access to the network and broadband service provisioning shall be through Wi-Fi or any other broadband access technologies in all 2,50,000 GPs in the country. As on 23.07.2017, the status of implementation of BharatNet is as under:-
No. of GPs where OFC laying is completed : 100,299 GPs
Optical Fibre Cable laid : 221,925 Kms
Broadband Connectivity provided in GPs : 25,426 GPs

Stringent EMF radiation norms are operational in India: Manoj Sinha - 26th July, 2017

The Minister of Communications Shri Manoj Sinha said that for provision of seamless services including advanced facilities like 4G, 5G and Internet of Things (IoT), the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) are required to expand their network so as to ensure adequate coverage at all the locations where such services are required to be provided. In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, he said that as on 31-05-2017, there are total 4,48,273 mobile towers installed by different TSPs in the country.

On the issue of EMF radiation from the mobile towers, he said that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), in the year 2008, adopted the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines that are recommended by World Health Organization (WHO) for basic restriction and limiting reference levels of electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers. Based on the recommendations of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), with effect from 01.09.2012, these limits have been made ten times more stringent than the limits prescribed by ICNIRP and recommended by WHO.

The Minister said that the present limit/level of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for Mobile Handsets in India is also one of the most stringent in the world and is 1.6 Watt per Kg averaged over a mass of one-gram human tissue, at par with USA, Canada and Australia, as against the global standards prescribed by ICNIRP of 2 W/kg averaged over a mass of 10 gm tissue and adopted by China, Singapore, Ghana, Brazil, Japan, Nigeria, Republic of Korea etc.

Data is going to drive Telecom Industry in near future-Manoj Sinha India to emerge as a major player in 5G Subscriptions by 2022 - 14th July, 2017

The Minister of Communications Shri Manoj Sinha said that the Telecom Ministry is dealing with an extremely dynamic industry and progressive market which is evolving at an extremely rapid rate. He said that with the increase in usage of Smartphones and an exponential increase in broadband usage, data is going to drive industry more and more rather than voice and therefore, the Ministry has initiated a move to relook at the current Telecom Policy through public consultation, as the need of the hour is to ramp up for the Digital era. Speaking at the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of IPTV Society here, Shri Sinha said that whether it is broadband spectrum, Internet adoption/availability, data protection, or cyber security, what was applicable five years back is no more relevant in today’s context, and new policies will need to be futuristic. They will also need to be capable of dealing with India’s challenges and figuring out ways to deal with those challenges.

Shri Sinha said that Broadband is of vital importance to India, as indeed to all customers globally, to ensure digital connectivity as this is the stepping stone to higher productivity as is proven in many a developed economy. It enhances commerce, improves banking facilities, improves administrative facilities and empowers the public as a whole. Broadband development is the cornerstone of Digital India and every Indian and remotest location will be empowered through the Digital India initiative.

He welcomed Broadband India Forum for bringing out credible Research documents from time to time in the form of white-papers and reports, independently or in combination with reputed research agencies on relevant issues which are of value to all stakeholders and for the future of broadband in India.

The Minister also released a paper by Broadband India Forum and ICRIER which he described is of economic significance for the digital economy concerning ICT Applications.