Wednesday, July 1, 2009

'We'll Take Decisions Soon'
The MoS state in the telecom and IT ministry sidesteps telecom controversies and focuses on his IT beat

Outlook interviews Sachin Pilot

In his first interview after taking charge as minister of state in the telecom and IT ministry, a cautious Sachin Pilot sidestepped telecom controversies and focused on his IT beat.

There have been many delays in crucial decisions for telecom...

Don't forget these are very important decisions and we have to consult many stakeholders. The elections also caused a 2-3 month gap and no big decision was taken. Even before the code of conduct, sometimes it is more in keeping with propriety that we wait for a mandate. Now that we have one, you will see that decisions are being taken soon.

There hasn't been much progress in rollout of services in rural areas.

In the next few months you'll see a greater impetus, ensuring better utilisation of the universal service obligation (uso) fund in these areas. Sometimes private players aren't keen to enter some areas; that's where the government must step in.

You've come to the IT ministry during one of the worst phases....

The IT sector is a useful tool to meet the challenges of the global slowdown. Last year, the sector's growth was not as much as in previous years, but it was a net employer. IT has to diversify its portfolio of export destinations.

So what's your immediate agenda?

IT should not have the tag of being elitist and should penetrate all parts of the country. We are setting up 1,00,000 common service centres under the flagship National e-Governance Programme. Of this, 40,000 are already up in the ppp model. Next year, we will finish setting up the rest. In three years, we want to connect all panchayats with broadband.

What about amendments to the IT Act?

It is being finalised. Soon we should have the complete document. It's an important legislation and also looks at cybersecurity. It's not the severity but the surety of punishment that is key to having a safe IT environment.

There's a demand for extending the tax holiday for Software Technology Parks.

In times of general slowdown, we need an impetus, as investment is not taking place as much as a few years ago. The cabinet will take a final decision.

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