Statement by India on Agenda Item 2 on 'Review of progress made in the implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) outcomes', at the 16th session of Commission on Science and Technology for Development, delivered by Shri B.N. Reddy, Deputy Permanent Representative, on June 4, 2013, Geneva
At the outset, my delegation would like to congratulate you and other members of the Bureau on your election and for chairing this important Commission. I assure you of my delegation’s full support and cooperation in the deliberations of this Commission.
We thank the Secretary General for a comprehensive report on the Agenda Item 2, which is reviewing the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels.
Information and Communications Technologies have revolutionized the way we live in an interconnected world. Mobile telephony, broadband and Internet usage have brought unprecedented changes in every aspect of human endeavor. The impact of ICT on development is expected to grow rapidly with significant advances in convergence of communication technology with IT. The role of ICT tools, skills and networks for poverty alleviation, job creation and empowerment of all users of these technologies has been fully recognized world over.
Rapid strides have been made in the spread of ICT worldwide –with mobile subscriptions globally exceeding six billion and more than a third of the world’s population using Internet. The Secretary General’s report rightly highlights the new digital divide arising between countries which have high broadband capacity and Internet usage and those, particularly Least Developed Countries.
Yesterday, both the Secretaries General of UNCTAD and ITU have cautioned that this new digital divide is widening rapidly. It is, therefore, of utmost urgency that the review of WSIS processes as well as the preparations for WSIS +10 accords highest priority to this dimension. Any further delay in bridging the new digital divide by the international community has the potential of exacerbating the problem beyond redemption. The Commission may, therefore, consider this issue on a priority basis.
Another new trend highlighted by the Secretary- General relates to cloud computing, which has the potential to improve access and affordability of Internet in developing countries, particularly the LDCs. The report further recognizes the challenges such as lack of national jurisdiction, as well as privacy and security concerns. Absence of a global mechanism to address international public policy aspects relating to Internet is likely to stymie evolution of cloud computing as well as its safe usage.
While there is general recognition that some progress has been made since WSIS in Tunis in 2005, there are still looming concerns about significant challenges that remain, particularly in ensuring the inclusiveness of the information society. In addition, governance of global Internet, which is multilateral, transparent and democratic, with increased participation of developing countries, remains a distant dream.
Rapid growth in ICT access and use in Asia and the Pacific has enabled emergence of a digital economy, which is a source of innovation and productivity improvements. However, quality and high price of ICT infrastructure, broadband access and digital content in the low income countries are major areas of concern.
India is on the cusp of drawing maximum advantage of ICT for development. With over 900 million mobile phones in India and with significant convergence of ICT technologies, the impact of ICT on overall development is enormous. With over 130 million Internet users, India has emerged as the third largest country in Internet usage. India adopted a National Policy on IT in 2012 for inclusive and sustainable development through ICT. India has also adopted a Policy Framework for Mobile Governance for providing government services to the people through mobile devices and ensuring much wider access to such services, especially in rural areas.
India has also created a Citizen Engagement Framework for e-Governance Projects and a Framework and Guidelines for Use of Social Media by Government Agencies for ensuring continued multi-stake holder dialogue in e-Governance. Participation of civil society, private sector and academic institutions is being leveraged to attain India’s development goals through ICT. These developments in India are broadly in consonance with outcomes envisaged by WSIS at national level.
To encourage open data, India has also adopted the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy with a mandate to provide data from government departments in the public domain.
We believe that a common platform under the aegis of United Nations could be developed to enable sharing of experiences and best practices across countries in the areas of various ICT applications referred to in Secretary-General's report relating to financial inclusion, agriculture, health, and education for making the information available to the world. India would be happy to contribute in the development of such a common platform and provide the required resources to enable that the benefits of ICTs reach the last mile.
Today, ICT tools are being increasingly integrated into development partnerships. India’s flagship ICT-enabled development initiative namely Pan-African E-Network is connecting most of the countries in Africa with Indian centers of excellence in health and education. Building upon the success of the E-Network project, India is proposing to establish an India-Africa Virtual University to provide higher education services to students in Africa.
We welcome the UN General Assembly mandated first meeting of the Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation last week to make recommendations on implementation of enhanced cooperation as envisioned in the Tunis Agenda. We look forward to the Working Group coming up with clear recommendations to the next session of CSTD on ways to fully implement enhanced cooperation as contained in the Tunis Agenda, that would enable Governments, on an equal footing, to carry out their roles and responsibilities, in international public policy issues pertaining to Internet - without involving in day-to-day technical and operational matters. It should also suggest ways to further strengthen participation of all stakeholders in management of Internet.
India supports the call for a High Level WSIS +10 Review Conference in 2015. We hope that the 68th session of the UN General Assembly would provide guidance on the WSIS+ 10 Review Conference.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.