Indian initiatives aim to enhance IT reach and address SIM security

Indian initiatives aim to enhance IT reach and address SIM security

A number of policy initiatives have been announced by India’s Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw this week, focusing on improving the reach of IT and the issues of SIM card security and bulk connections.

The more upbeat announcement concerns cabinet approval for the extension of the Digital India scheme for a period of five years till 2025-26. This involves an outlay of some 149 billion rupees (about US$1.8 billion).

The Digital India scheme is an umbrella programme launched on 1 July 2015, and covers plans such as Aadhaar for all (a biometric ID system), countrywide rural broadband connectivity, common service centres, Bharat interface for money (a mobile payment system), Aadhaar-enabled payments systems and MyGov, a citizen-centric platform that empowers people to connect with the government.

The expanded scheme will help to re-skill and upskill 625,000 IT professionals and train about 265,000 people in information security. In addition, Bhashini, an artificial intelligence-enabled multi-language translation tool currently available in ten Indian languages, will be expanded to 22 languages. More supercomputers and more support for start-ups are also planned.

The Minister this week also unveiled two Department of Telecommunications (DoT)-inspired reforms: mandatory police verification of SIM dealers, and the discontinuation of bulk connection buying. The bulk connection system will be replaced with the concept of ‘business connection’ which will require any business, or corporate, to register with the authorities.  

Vaishnaw described the changes as “purely focused on user protection and purely focused on reducing cyber frauds”.

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