Recent reports regarding the attempts emanated from China targeting India’s power grid should rightfully lead to caution from India. But it is also to be noted that amidst the heat of the clashes at the Ladakh border, the Indian government has also taken firm moves by banning the Chinese apps on security reasons, the example of which was followed by the Western countries too later.
Now, at a time when India is aiming to become the hub of telecom equipment manufacturing through Production Linked Incentive scheme, it has also designed a way to keep the Chinese firms at bay.
Trusted Telecom -The New Rule
The Department of Telecommunication amended the telecom licensing norms. Putting the defence and national security as priority parameters, it instructs telecom operators to purchase only from trusted telecom products and from trusted equipment sources.
➡️ Telecom licensing conditions amended: Defence, security new criteria for 'trusted sources, products' pic.twitter.com/tBH5waBCP9
— RSPrasad Office (@OfficeOfRSP) March 11, 2021
The new rule, applicable from June 15, authorizes the designated authority to list trusted sources. According to the reports, “Designated Authority shall notify the categories of equipment for which the security requirement related to trusted sources are applicable. For the said categories of equipment, Designated Authority shall notify the trusted sources along with the associated Telecommunication Equipment.”
The American Example
It is important to look towards America to understand how important the Indian new rule is.
In the technology supply chains of the US, Chinese companies have got many sub-contracts. Senators like Marco Rubio were of the opinion that this is leading to data theft by the Chinese. There are umpteen reports from the US that explain the menace of data theft by Chinese companies.
Be it in America or in India, business houses work arguably for the same prime reason – making profit. It suits them to involve Chinese companies in technology supply chain if they provide cheap equipment or technology support. But the short-term profit they gain may prove detrimental to national security.
The evolving Indian scene is not different. According to an analysis of The Indian Express, “almost 30 percent of Bharti Airtel’s existing network comprises Chinese telecom equipment, it is as much as 40 percent for Vodafone Idea. State-run telcos Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), too, have equipment from Chinese vendors, including Huawei and ZTE, in their 3G and older networks.”
With this backdrop, one may easily understand the importance of having telecom equipment from only trusted sources.