The list of things that the IT industry and users want done from A Raja is
long, but there are some things that the new ICT minister, who is himself a
46-year-old lawyer, must do. He knows that good governance will be the only
criteria on how he is rated in the months to come, and he has to fulfill the
dreams of millions of countrymen if he has to continue in the hot seat. We have
had a bad tradition of really not giving any meaningful role to the junior
ministers. That must change now, and both Kamat and Pilot must play an important
While Raja's 54-year-old minister of state Gurudas Kamat is a seasoned
politician, he is known to be an action-oriented man. Though not so young, he is
very dynamic, with a smart sense of understanding complicated situations.
Similarly the other minister, 32-year-old Sachin Pilot, represents the young
generation of India and their aspirations and expectations from technology. A St
Stephens Delhi graduate, Pilot also did a management course at Wharton, and a
two-year stint at General Motors. There is every reason to hope that the two can
be of great help.
Manmohan Singh has called for a 100-day action plan from all his ministers.
It would be in the spirit of information technology, which is also about more
transparency and better processes, that the 100 day action plan has clear
deliverables with milestones.
Communications and IT is one of the hottest seats in the new government,
because on it will depend employment, domestic market growth, defense, R&D,
exports, education, healthcare, and governance. If we goof up or slow down here,
we will be slowed down in every other field. Minister Raja, as well as his Prime
Minister must realize this. There should be more frequent reviews, specially of
the performance of the IT and Communications ministry.
I know preparing a road map in ICT is tough, but unfortunately there is no
alternative to that. Does India have any ICT road map or vision, for 2020 or
2025? I do not think anyone is aware of one. This should be a top priority for
Raja and his team.
One problem of merging IT and communications has been complete overshadowing
of the IT part. The only place the ICT minister is seen and heard is
communications, as if there is nothing in IT to talk about.
And finally some unsolicited advice for the PM. Often our ministers have
shied away from associating themselves very closely with IT because they fear
that the general masses will drift away perceiving them as elitist. That mindset
must change. If our ministers believe and want common Indians to use and
leverage IT, then they must become role models.