As per the latest figures released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), post-COVID-19, the world witnessed a sharp rise in the number of internet users from 4.1 billion people (54% of the world population) in 2019 to 4.9 billion people (63% of the world population) in 2021. However, the same report states that some 2.9 billion people remain offline, 96% of whom live in developing countries. These stark differences emanate from several barriers faced by the residents of the developing countries and include lack of access because of unaffordability of ICT services, lack of strong technological and industrial bases, inadequate R&D facilities, and deficient ICT operating skills.
Countries are increasingly exploring different ways to partner with other countries through multilateral, bilateral, and other legal arrangements. The countries often forge bilateral cooperation with other countries through signing Memorandum of Understanding(MOUs), Memorandum of Cooperation (MOCs) and creating Joint Working Groups, and Joint Declarations of Intent, among others. These are informal legal instruments as compared to typical treaties or international agreements, and promote international cooperation in strategic interest areas. India has a detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) with respect to MOUs/agreements with foreign countries. The SOP lays down the Indian legal practice on treaty formation and detailed guidelines in respect to the different international agreements that may be signed by the countries.
India has executed several MOUs, MOCs, Joint Declaration of Intent, and Working Groups to identify common interests, priorities, policy dialogue, and the necessary tools for ICT collaboration. These include a broad range of areas, including the development of IT software, telecom software, IT-enabled services, E-commerce services & information security, electronic governance, IT and electronics hardware, Human Resource Development for IT education, IT-enabled education, Research and Development, strengthening the cooperation between private and public sector, collaboration in the field of emerging technologies, capacity building and technical assistance in the ICT sector.
Aims and Objectives
This mapping exercise lists the numerous bilateral MOUs, Joint Declarations and other agreements signed between India and partner countries to locate the nature and extent of international collaborative efforts in the ICT sector. Furthermore, this mapping exercise aims to understand India’s strategic interests and priority areas in the sector and evaluate India’s unique positioning in South-South Cooperation. The said mapping exercise remains a work in progress and shall be updated at periodic intervals.
The mapping exercise includes an assessment of 36 MOUs and 5 other agreements subdivided into four categories: Fixed Term/ Renewed ICT MOUs (13), Open-Ended ICT MOUs (4), ICT MOUs with Pending Renewal/ Extension and Expired MOUs (19), and Joint Declaration and Proposals concerning ICT Sector (5). The relevant details of such MOUs are derived from publicly available information provided by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Society (MeitY), Department of Telecommunication (DoT), Ministry of Communications (MOC) and the Indian Treaties Database by Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The current analysis attempts to bring out the different MOUs, MOCs, and Joint Declarations of Intent executed by Indian authorities (MeitY, MOC and MEA), their duration of operation and the areas covered under the scope of such collaboration.
Some of our key observations from the mapping exercise are as follows:
- India has entered into MOUs/ Joint Declaration of Intent and other agreements with both developed and developing countries. These include Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Estonia, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, United Kingdom, among others.
- Within India’s ICT cooperation and collaboration landscape, we have identified the following as priority areas:
|Building capacity of CERTs and law enforcement agencies||1. Cybersecurity technology cooperation relevant to CERT activities. |
2. Exchange of information on prevalent cybersecurity policies and best practices.
3. CERT-to-CERT Cooperation.
4. Exchange of experiences regarding technical infrastructure of CERT.
|Technical assistance and capacity building||1. Human resource development including training of Govt. officials in e-governance. |
2. Institutional cooperation among the academic and training institutions.
3. Strengthening collaboration in areas such as e-government, m-governance, smart infrastructure, e-health, among others.
|Sharing of technology, standardization and certification||1. Cooperation in software development, rural telecommunication, manufacturing of telecom manufacturing and sharing of know-how technologies. |
2. Cooperation in exchanging and developing technology.
3. Standardisation, testing and certification.
|B2B cooperation and economic advancement||1. Enhancing B2B cooperation in cyber security.|
2.Enable and strengthen industrial, technological and commercial cooperation between industry and research establishments.
3.Exploring third country markets.
4. Favourable environment for the business entities through various measures to facilitate trade and investment.