Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me immense pleasure to be here in India on the occasion of 6th National Telecom Awards, organized by the Communication, Multimedia And Infrastructure Association of India.
These awards have been running since 2007, and play an important role in recognizing the contributions made right across the ICT sector towards nation-building and enabling governmental policies in extending the benefits of communications technologies to every man, woman and child in this great country.
As you will know, the CMAI covers the entire spectrum of the ICT sector – including fixed and mobile operators; manufacturers; ISPs and broadband operators; infrastructure and telecom service providers; and businesses which drive applications, innovation, education, healthcare and so much more.
These 6th National Telecom Awards will identify and recognize outstanding contributions to the field of communications, ICTs, multimedia and infrastructure, offering well-deserved congratulations to companies which have shown outstanding research, development and innovations in the ICT sector.
As we have seen from past awards, this process does more than simply recognizing great work already done; it also provides encouragement and impetus to players right across the sector to continue working towards building a robust National Telecom Network, and improving the lives of citizens right across India.
I am very happy to be sharing the presentation of the awards today with the Union Minister; the Minister of States, Government of India; the Secretary of the Department of Telecom; and the Chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India – as well as with the Ministers for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology; Micro and Small Medium Industries; and New and Renewable Energy.
It is also a great pleasure to see so many delegates here in the audience today. Indeed, I believe that this is the first time that National Telecom Awards have been organized on such a grand scale in any country in the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Over the past twenty years or so, we have seen an extraordinary transition from a world where most people did not have access to even basic telecommunications, to a world where we have more than six billion mobile cellular subscriptions and where more than 2.4 billion people use the Internet.
The key to this extraordinary communications miracle has of course been mobile, which has conquered the globe and brought ICTs within reach of virtually all of the world’s people – in an incredibly short space of time.
India itself is one of the largest and fastest-growing ICT markets in the world, with a combined total of more than 950 million fixed and wireless telephone subscriptions, and mobile phone penetration now above 75%.
This is a quite extraordinary achievement, when you think that just ten years ago, at the beginning of 2002, there were only 6.5 million mobile cellular subscriptions in the whole of India!
One of the reasons for India’s success, of course, is that it can boast some of the most affordable tariffs in the world for voice calls and text messages – which have created huge opportunities for socio-economic development across the country, and provided the framework for long-term sustainable development.
This is true for people in every walk of life, including those among us who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.
India’s incredible ICT success story has been driven in large part by the pro-competitive regulatory and policy initiatives undertaken by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Department of Telecom (DOT).
It is now clearly time to do for broadband what has already been done for mobile, and I am pleased to note that India has been making active steps in this regard – notably with the National Broadband Plan, with the National Telecommunication Policy 2012, and with Convergence Licensing and a technology-neutral spectrum policy.
The National Telecom Awards also play their part – because in recognizing important feats in the ICT sector they also help companies formulate the way forward for the Indian ICT sector.
India has been at the forefront of the ICT revolution for some time, and I have no doubt about the proactive role India is playing to shape the ICT policies in the region, and indeed across the world.
On a regional note, I was very pleased to see the successful outcome of this year’s International Training Programme, as well as the Regulators Roundtable last month which was hosted by TRAI and held in Hyderabad.
This paves the way for cooperation mechanisms amongst regulators from across the region to find common understanding on issues of common interest, such as convergence, spectrum, quality of service and capacity building.
Before I close, I would like to mention this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, WTISD, which will be celebrated in Geneva and around the world this year on 16 May.
The theme of this year’s WTISD, ‘Women and Girls in ICT’, draws attention to the need to encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in the world’s most vibrant and exciting sector.
At ITU we are determined to eliminate gender disparities and to work together to empower women and girls to achieve their goals and meet their aspirations.
Let me therefore urge CMAI, and all the delegates here present, to work sincerely for the empowerment of women and girls both within and through ICT.
Women are the bedrock of our societies. They are the pillars of strength in every family and community. We need to ensure that they are fairly rewarded and have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Let me express a wish, therefore, that when we come to celebrate next year’s National Telecom Awards, in May 2013, that we can come here with some great new success stories and innovative solutions for women and girls in ICT.
For today, I am delighted to be a part of the 2012 National Telecom Awards, which I am sure will have a long-lasting impact on ICT development and international telecom policies, both here in India and around the world.