INDIA HAS A SEPARATE COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY NOW..AND WITH IT SOME PERTINENT QUESTIONS?

The much talked about second cabinet reshuffle and expansion of the Narendra Modi government is over. And it has thrown some very curious talking points.

One of them is about the introduction of an interesting innovation – a separate Ministry of Communications.

The routine practice so far has been about clubbing together these two elements of the communication ecology – telecommunication and information-technology – in a single ministry. Manmohan Singh had his Communications & Information-Technology minister in the government that was followed by Narendra Modi who appointed Ravi Shankar Prasad as the Communications & Information Technology minister when he formed the government in May 2014.

That is not the case anymore.

Manoj Sinha who was a junior Railways Minister so far has been promoted as the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Communications in addition to his old portfolio, ie., MoS (Railways).

Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was the Communications & Information Technology minister so far, is now Electronics & Information Technology minister along with the additional charge of the Ministry of Law & Justice.

And before the July 5 reshuffle, the economically vital sectors of any country in the modern times – telecommunication and information-technology – fell under his purview.

Now that there is a separate Ministry of Communications – the pressing question is – what this ministry would look after?

As telecommunication has been removed from the ambit of the Electronics & Information Technology ministry and put under the Communications ministry, we come across some pertinent questions.

A Google search on the definition of Communications says – “means of sending or receiving information, such as telephone lines or computers”.

Furthermore, the Wikipedia writes about the Information & Communications Technologies (ICT) as – “Information and communications technology (ICT) is an extended term for information technology (IT) which stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals), computers as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audio-visual systems, which enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information”.

It means the Communications ministry should cover the telecommunication sector as well as the computing technologies, i.e., internet (means of sending or receiving information). At least that should be the case – going by the available definitions in the related literature.

But then what Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad would do with his Electronics & Information Technology ministry?

Google search about the term information technology returns with the following definition – “the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information.”

While it defines ‘electronics’ as – “the branch of physics and technology concerned with the design of circuits using transistors and microchips, and with the behaviour and movement of electrons in a semiconductor, conductor, vacuum, or gas”.

In simple terms, the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology also concerns with the telecommunication sector and the computing technologies. It would create problems if the roles are not properly demarcated and defined then.

Also, the Government of India web directory page on the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology shows that the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY), Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Department of Posts together form the Ministry.

MoC&IT-GOIWD

So, there is a clear case of overlapping in the functional areas of the now separated Communications ministry and the Information Technology ministry. And this functional overlapping has been the reason, so far, behind clubbing all the communication technologies together in a ministry.

In a communications ecology increasingly dominated by smartphones along with the growing penetration of information technology in everyday life – something that is again driven by telecom revolution in India – DeitY and DoT must coordinate and act together to ensure an efficient monitoring environment. Also, we need to keep in mind here that almost all the major telecom firms are also big internet service providers.

How would they feel if they are regulated by two separate ministries now – as DoT is now under the Ministry of Communications while DeitY remains under the Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology?

In other words, there would be two ministries to approach now – one ministry for the telecommunication related practices – and the other ministry for data issues – and the related baggage of dealing with two functional heads and the trail of manpower that follows them. It can simply turn out to be a too difficult to handle.

And where would the Department of Post would go?

A separate Ministry of Communications sounds good but the government needs to answer these questions first. Obviously, the government would have thought on this line. Let’s see the blueprint it comes out with.

©SantoshChaubey

WHAT EXACTLY WOULD MODI SARKAR’S NEW ‘COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY’ DO?

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

The much talked about second Cabinet reshuffle and expansion of the Narendra Modi government is over. And it has thrown around some rather curious talking points.

One of them is about the introduction of an interesting innovation: the ministry of communications.

The routine practise so far has been about clubbing together these two elements of the communication ecology – telecommunication and information technology – in a single ministry.

Dr Manmohan Singh had his “communications and information technology minister” in the government that was followed by Narendra Modi who appointed Ravi Shankar Prasad as the communications and information technology minister when he formed the government in May 2014.

That is not the case anymore.

Manoj Sinha, who was a junior railways minister so far, has been promoted as the minister of state (independent charge), communications, in addition to his old portfolio, which is, MoS railways.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was the communications and information technology minister so far, is now the electronics and information technology minister along with the additional charge of the ministry of law and justice.

The economically vital sectors of any country in the modern times – telecommunication and information technology – fell under his purview.

Now that there is a separate ministry of communications, the pressing question is – what would this ministry look after?

Has telecom been removed from the ambit of the electronics and information technology ministry and put under the communications ministry?

Or, would this independent entity – named as the communications ministry – have some other sectors to cover? If so, what would be those sectors?

A Google search on the definition of Communications says: “means of sending or receiving information, such as telephone lines or computers”.

Furthermore, Wikipedia writes about the information and communications technologies (ICT): “Information and communications technology (ICT) is an extended term for information technology (IT) which stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals), computers as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audio-visual systems, which enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.”

Now that there is a separate ministry of communications, the pressing question is – what would this ministry look after?

Has telecom been removed from the ambit of the electronics and information technology ministry and put under the communications ministry?

Or, would this independent entity – named as the communications ministry – have some other sectors to cover? If so, what would be those sectors?

A Google search on the definition of Communications says: “means of sending or receiving information, such as telephone lines or computers”.

Furthermore, Wikipedia writes about the information and communications technologies (ICT): “Information and communications technology (ICT) is an extended term for information technology (IT) which stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals), computers as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audio-visual systems, which enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.”

While it defines “electronics” as “the branch of physics and technology concerned with the design of circuits using transistors and microchips, and with the behaviour and movement of electrons in a semiconductor, conductor, vacuum, or gas”.

In a simple language, the ministry of electronics and information technology also concerns with the telecommunication sector and the computing technologies. It would create problems if the roles are not properly demarcated and defined.

Also, the government of India web directory page on the ministry of communications and information technology shows that the Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Department of Posts together form the Ministry.

MoC&IT-GOIWD

So, there is a clear case of overlapping between the functional areas of the communications ministry and the electronics and information technology ministry. And this functional overlapping has been the reason behind clubbing all the communication technologies together in a ministry.

In a communications ecology increasingly dominated by smartphones along with the growing penetration of information technology in everyday life, that is again driven by telecom revolution in India, DeitY and DoT must coordinate and act together to ensure an efficient monitoring environment. Almost all the major telecom firms are also big internet service providers.

How would they feel if they are regulated by two separate ministries now – in case DoT is given under the ministry of communications while DeitY remains under the ministry of electronics and information technology?

In simple terms, there would be two ministries to approach – one ministry for the telecommunication related practises – and the other ministry for data issues.

But if the government is not going to put DeitY and DoT under two ministries, then what else option is left there?

So, there is a clear case of overlapping between the functional areas of the communications ministry and the electronics and information technology ministry. And this functional overlapping has been the reason behind clubbing all the communication technologies together in a ministry.

In a communications ecology increasingly dominated by smartphones along with the growing penetration of information technology in everyday life, that is again driven by telecom revolution in India, DeitY and DoT must coordinate and act together to ensure an efficient monitoring environment. Almost all the major telecom firms are also big internet service providers.

How would they feel if they are regulated by two separate ministries now – in case DoT is given under the ministry of communications while DeitY remains under the ministry of electronics and information technology?

In simple terms, there would be two ministries to approach – one ministry for the telecommunication related practises – and the other ministry for data issues.

But if the government is not going to put DeitY and DoT under two ministries, then what else option is left there?

©SantoshChaubey

SO..WE HAVE AN INDEPENDENT COMMUNICATIONS MINISTRY NOW..BUT WHAT WOULD IT DO?

So, the much talked about second cabinet reshuffle and expansion of the Narendra Modi government is over.

And it has thrown some very curious talking points.

One of them is about the introduction of an interesting ministry – the Ministry of Communications.

Manoj Sinha who was a junior Railways Minister so far has been promoted as a senior minister. No he has not been made a Cabinet Minister. But he has been given the independent charge of his ministry.

He is now the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Communications.

Now what this Communications Ministry would look after – that is the million dollar question.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, a senior NDA member was the ‘Communications & Information Technology’ minister so far. The all important sectors of any country in the modern times – telecom and information-technology – fell under his purview.

Now, after the reshuffle/expansion, Mr. Prasad is the ‘Electronics & Information Technology’ minister – with additional charge of ‘Law & Justice’.

So, what will these two ministries do – ‘Communications’ and ‘Electronics & Information Technology’?

Has telecom been removed from the ambit of the ‘Electronics & Information Technology’ ministry and put under the ‘Communications’ ministry?

Or this independent entity named as the ‘Communications’ ministry would have some other sectors to cover?

A Google search on the definition of ‘Communications’ says – “means of sending or receiving information, such as telephone lines or computers”.

Furthermore, the Wikipedia writes about the Information & Communications Technologies (ICT) as – “Information and communications technology (ICT) is an extended term for information technology (IT) which stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals), computers as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audio-visual systems, which enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information”.

It means the ‘Communications’ ministry should cover telecom as well as computing technologies, i.e., internet (means of sending or receiving information). At least that should be the case – going by the available definition in the related literature.

But then what Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad would do with his ‘Electronics & Information Technology’ ministry?

The Google search about the term ‘information technology’ returns with the following definition – “the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information.”

While it defines ‘electronics’ as – “the branch of physics and technology concerned with the design of circuits using transistors and microchips, and with the behaviour and movement of electrons in a semiconductor, conductor, vacuum, or gas”.

In a way, the ministry of ‘Electronics & Information Technology’ also concerns with telecom and computing technologies.

So, there is a clear case of overlapping between the functional areas of the ‘Communications’ ministry and the ‘Electronics & Information Technology’ ministry. It would create problems if the roles are not properly demarcated and defined.

Obviously, the government would have thought on this line. Let’s see the blue-print it comes out with.

©SantoshChaubey

SO, WHAT SORT OF EXPANSION WOULD IT BE TOMORROW?

Narendra Modi is going to expand his cabinet tomorrow. The names that will figure there tomorrow in the list of the oath-takers are almost certain. Though the official list is yet to come out, the probable names have become more or less clear. The Rashtrapati Bhavan has been informed and as per the reports, the ceremony will begin at 11 AM.

Why we are buying the names because of the leads that we are getting when we look at the list.

The probable names are: SS Ahluwalia, PP Chaudhary, Anupriya Patel, Vijay Goeal, MJ Akbar, Anil Madhav Dave, Mansukhbhai Mandavia, Mahendranath Pandey, Purshottam Rupala, Faggan Singh Kulaste, Krishna Raj, Jaswantsinh Bhabhor, Ramdas Athawale, Subhash Bhamre, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Ajay Tamta, Ramesh Jigajinagi.

A look at them tells they are a mix of possibilities – to tame the considerations of experience – to exploit the permutations and combinations of caste – and to send a message – that no one is secure and the game is going to be performance based.

Though the last prospect looks watered down here – because many ministers whose names were doing rounds as the possible drop-outs are not going to figure there tomorrow – as much we know – so far.

In a country like India where elections are held every year – and where elections are basically contested on factors like caste, community and regional affiliations – performance cannot be the sole criteria for judging a minister for a particular portfolio.

2017 will see five assembly polls – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur. Of these five, the BJP will try all to win Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Though the BJP is now the biggest political party in terms of its governments in the state assemblies, it is true that no party can claim to run the show in the country unless it has an emphatic presence in Uttar Pradesh – India’s most populous state that sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha (and the maximum number of Rajya Sabha MPs) – the state from where the BJP began its journey to take the political centrestage – but a state where the party has been reduced to the 3rd spot. Though the party has wasted the last two years after the absolute win of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state, winning 73 out of 80 seats (with 2 seats of its ally Apna Dal), its strategists still think that it can win the state once again.

So, Uttar Pradesh will have to get a proportion in the cabinet expansion accordingly. Uttarakhand can be an upcoming battle royale after the BJP’s failed attempt to impose the President’s Rule in the state. Now winning the state has become a prestige issue.

The major transitions, transfers and omissions will be based on the equations the upcoming assembly elections in these two states – because Manipur is not that important from an electoral point of view – because Punjab is a lost chance – and because Goa, too, is going to be a negative prospects zone with rising anti-incumbency against the BJP government there.

Representation from states – representation from castes – and representation from experience sub-sets would depend on that.

©SantoshChaubey