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ITI in New Delhi: Expanding Digital India

This week ITI is participating in a wide range of meetings with Indian government officials in New Delhi alongside official government-to-government meetings taking place between India and the United States. When Prime Minister Modi came into office in 2014, ITI offered a set of recommendations that respectfully suggested ways to improve policies concerning information and communications technology (ICT) hardware, cybersecurity, the environment, supply chains, and Internet governance.

Since then, Prime Minister Modi has launched new initiatives, such as Make in India and Digital India, that have a direct bearing on the technology and innovation sector. These initiatives reflect both India's strong desire to become a global technology leader and to deploy technology in the pursuit of its development goals--such as poverty reduction, hunger elimination, sanitation, education, urbanization, and raising standards of living. Digital technologies enabled by the internet can help achieve these objectives and are in increasingly wide-spread use by Indian firms and individuals. They also have posed new challenges for Indian regulators, who in response are now considering regulations in a variety of new areas.

As such, the issues under discussion this week are far more expansive than what we identified in 2014. Our goal for this week is to serve as a trusted interlocutor and source of world class information and technical expertise for Indian officials in their deliberations. We want to build awareness on how to address implementation problems in the legacy issue areas such as Preferential Market Access, the Compulsory Registration Order, Telecom Security Testing, or high tariffs on ICT products.

We also want to provide our perspectives on new issues such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, over-the-top services, and encryption to help India become a more competitive and open market for technology and innovation. All of which offer opportunities to benefit India's economy, its domestic firms, and global companies seeking to invest and produce ICT products and services in India. Of upmost importance is that regulators in India identify real-world problems and market failures and then target their regulations to address those issues. Blanket, reactive regulation of digital technologies will not encourage their diffusion into the economy and will act instead to inhibit any benefit they could provide to India in the pursuit of its larger domestic policy objectives.

The way we engage on these issues matters. ITI and our members would like to see deeper engagement on the specific issues with the responsible regulators. High-level policy discussions that cover the direction of policy are important, but it is equally important to dig into the finer details of regulation. Those kinds of granular discussions require regularity and long-term planning, where the stakeholders and officials have set opportunities to meet and discuss over the course of a finite period of time. Ad hoc discussions that come up at the last minute usually do not lead to productive, mutually beneficial outcomes.

Instead, we seek to engage in an ongoing, structured way and will commit our time and energy along these lines. And we genuinely want to explore with Indian officials how digital technologies can truly make India the global technology leader that it aspires to be. We look forward to the continuing, sustained engagement on all these important issues.