Frederick Noronha on Fri, 26 May 2000 09:41:23 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] India: Left out of Internet governance?

by Frederick Noronha

CHENNAI, May 26: In the alphabet-soup of the Internet, huge 
countries like India and China are virtually invisible. Cyber-
evangelists here are worried over the marginal role of large 
nations in bodies that play a key role in Internet governance.

Key Internet power-users from academia, industry, government and 
elsewhere recently met in this South Indian city to discuss poor 
representation of countries like India on Internet-governance 
institutions like the IETF, IANA, ICANN, PNG, APNIC, APRICOT, APTLD.

These international bodies decide the fate of the global 
information superhighway. But, reflecting the poor penetration of 
the Internet in India till recently, and also worldwide 
imbalances in economic power, interests from Third World 
countries have very little say in their functioning.

Meeting here recently, a range of Net enthusiasts heard of the 
importance of participation in these bodies, to take care of 
national and regional interests. 

Tamil Nadu State Council For Higher Education vice-chairman Dr. M 
Anandakrishnan stressed the need for forming an Internet Forum in 
India. Later, Ms Y.J.Park of the Singapore-based, 
outlined the role of various international organisations involved 
in Internet Governance. 

She regretted that two huge nations -- India and China, which 
cover practically one-third of the globe's population -- were 
practically not seen in any of these fora, and expressed the hope 
that a proposed Internet forum would ensure greater participation 
from India in all international fora related to Internet Governance.

Other members present complained of the very limited access to 
Internet in India, quantity as well as quality-wise. They 
highlighted problems associated with registering domain names, 
including its cost. 

Each Internet web-site needs to have its own unique domain-name 
registered, and complaints have come up more strongly of late 
that the Indian procedure for the same is cumbersome, costly and 
time-consuming. This leads to a loss of huge foreign exchange 
from those going Westwards to register 'domain names'. 

Chennai's Internet power-users also felt strongly about the 
"absence of adequate tools and technologies for Indian Language 
use on the Net, including standardisation at various levels". 
International bandwidth is still also costing India very dear.

Inadequate awareness of global developments in this domain 
threatens to leave India far behind in this strategic race, it 
was also noted.

Likewise, the need to be present in various international fora, 
and put forward India's views and requirements to ensure that 
national interests are fully taken care of was stressed.

Following the meeting, it was discussed that a national forum for 
the Internet, with full representation from all regions as well 
as sections, should be formed.

"This independent forum will allow for free discussion of all 
important aspects, to aid in the formulation and implementation 
of correct plans and policies at all levels -- bringing out all 
dimensions involved in an issue," commented Madras Institute of 
Technology (Anna University) design engineer M K Saravanan. 

This forum plans to "systematically follow" all the global 
developments of bearing to India, and propose apt responses to 
ensure that national interests are properly taken care of. "This 
is especially true in critical areas such as availability of 
domain names for our present and future needs," said Saravanan. 

It was also felt that such a body could ensure an Indian role in 
key global meets and deliberations linked to Internet Governance.  
It is expected to be launched by September 2000. (ENDS)  


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