India Archives — Page 10 of 43 — LIRNEasia


We rely on Kingdon’s concept of policy windows a lot. To effectively take research to policy, the necessary condition is a policy window: some kind of opening created in the “minds” of the relevant decision makers. It does not require much knowledge to postulate that current Indian election that will yield a new Prime Minister and Cabinet, whatever be the outcome, is such a window. But there is more. All the parties are promising improved governance and delivery of government services using ICTs, as the attached slideset shows.
I have never been a great fan of NRI type indices where the components are somewhat opaque and some are subjective. Instead of going into the details of the method and weaknesses of components such as the mythical (for the most part) numbers of Internet users, I thought I’d check in against four countries that have launched major initiatives on broadband promotion using government subsidies: Australia, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. Australia’s plan is the winner in terms of public money committed and Malaysia is the winner in terms of households already connected. Case studies conducted with Ford Foundation support should be on the web shortly. Australia is holding steady at 18th place.
As long as I can remember, India has been ahead of Sri Lanka in the WEF Network Readiness Index. But no more. Sri Lanka is now ranked 76th while India is ranked 83rd. The bad part of the story is that both countries have dropped in the rankings: Sri Lanka from 69th place to 76th, a fall of seven places, being overtaken by countries such as South Africa, Indonesia and Thailand. India’s fall has been more dramatic: a 15-place retreat from 68th to 83rd.

Chicken or egg in broadband policy

Posted on March 13, 2014  /  0 Comments

Many new issues worth further exploration emerged at the Expert Forum we concluded in New Delhi yesterday. One thing that was stated by officials was that the private sector was not stepping up to purchase the capacity offered by the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN). Unlike in other countries, the access offer is not complete (supposedly, some tariffs have been published; with some serious discounts on offer). Imagine offering a service without full information on what to do if the NOFN fails. So, what comes first: NOFN access rules or the private operators lining up to buy capacity?
A presentation and discussion of LIRNEasia research from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh  

Why is India the biggest user of VPNs?

Posted on February 8, 2014  /  0 Comments

The mass surveillance apparatus promised by the Government of India has yet to kick in, but according to a survey (the method is not fully reported, so we cannot vouch for veracity), Indians are already taking precautions. Asia accounts for four of the world’s top five VPN-using countries, although Indian netizens are more likely to hide their location than those in China, according to new research. Out of 28 per cent of global users who tunnel through the internet, only one fifth do so because they don’t want to be spotted by government snoopers, according to a Global Web Index study of 32 countries (H/T to TechInAsia). Presumably the other four-fifths are either very security conscious or trying to get on BBC iPlayer. In descending order, the top five are India, Vietnam, Thailand, China and Turkey – all of which have usage figures of a little over 20 per cent, according to the sample surveyed.
Government agencies are slow with procurement. This is common knowledge. Despite this common knowledge, the Telecom Minister and Mr Sam Pitroda decided to implement the NOFN using government entities only. It is also common practice for government entities to engage in the blame game, diverting precious effort from fixing the problems. All these not-unexpected things are happening right now.
Given the slow start and the pushing back of deadlines for the NOFN, one would have thought the BJP would bash the UPA on wasting public funds on fiber. But no, they want to do more. I guess Modi will claim he can get it done, without having to distinguish Congress and BJP policies. Read the article. The feel is that Modi and Reliance Jio are on the same wavelength.

Two more years for Bharat Broadband?

Posted on January 7, 2014  /  0 Comments

A few weeks back, we wrote about how late the NOFN train was running. It appears the USOF has accepted the reality that it cannot accelerate from 60 to 25,000 in 12 months and is asking for a two-year delay. We all know why government programs have tight deadlines. It has to do with the electoral cycle. What Nilekani achieved, Pitroda could not.
Both the horses are to be similar in size and strength while pulling a carriage. That was missing between India’s Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) and Reliance. As a result, Reliance has walked out of its rural mobile coverage project under the scheme of USOF. The issue dates back to 2007 when a scheme was launched under the USOF to provide subsidy support for setting up and managing 7,871 infrastructure sites, or telecom towers, in rural and remote areas in 500 districts of 12 states. RCOM and RTL had entered into an agreement with the USOF in June that year, under which they took responsibility for setting up nearly half of these towers.

More on taxes

Posted on December 19, 2013  /  0 Comments

Connected to the earlier post on taxes, is this one about Vodafone India getting served a USD 600 million retroactive tax bill. While Vodafone maintains no tax is due on the 2007 acquisition, it has told the government it is willing to explore the possibility of a “mutually acceptable solution”. Vodafone further points it has become one of India’s largest investors, spending more than £12.8 billion in building its business in the country since 2007. The operator is also one of India’s largest taxpayers.
Big government administered projects always have a hard time getting rolling. Ask the Australians. We wish the Indian DoT the best in achieving incredible acceleration. The government has provided broadband connectivity to only 60 gram panchayats till now under the Rs 20,000 crore NOFN project, which has to cover 2.5 lakh panchayats by September 2015.
In the academic world, they count publications to measure effort. Then they count citations to measure effectiveness. There is no habit of citing research in government. But we got lucky. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had commissioned the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) to work up a Decadel Report.