After reining in flow of Chinese telecom equipment into India to counter “cyber espionage”, the UPA government is now overhauling procurement policy for “sensitive” equipment from all over the globe as a measure to minimise the growing threat perception.
A high-level committee of secretaries, which has been tasked with formulating guidelines mandating security clearance for “sensitive” equipment purchased overseas, said the country should develop an in-house capability of conformity assessment.
Most of these equipment would be associated with the ministry of defence, the ministry of earth science for weather predictions and power sector machineries. The committee of secretaries discussed this sensitive issue in its last meeting a fortnight ago.
Recently, the defence ministry did not allow installation of Doppler radars of Chinese origin for weather forecast by the ministry of earth science along the Mumbai coast, citing “security” reasons.
A top government source told DNA that the panel recommended setting up of a National Standing Committee to clear various departmental proposals, mandatory inspection and testing by a panel of technical experts before the acceptance of the equipment (from overseas) and development of internal abilities to co-develop such sensitive equipment.
Quoting recommendations of an inter-ministerial group comprising representatives of the ministry of defence, the department of science and technology and the department of telecommunications, the committee has advocated enhancement of national testing and certification capabilities expeditiously and resorting to third party certification as interim measures.
It was also suggested that the proposed guidelines incorporate security vetting of suppliers prior to opening of price bids by the ministry of home affairs and highlight the need for addressing issues of domination of sector by a particular supplier or country of origin through targeted acquisitions or otherwise. The committee also suggested that it would be prudent to certify vendors rather than “countries of origin” and cautioned against reliance on one manufacturer.
While arguing for domestic players in telecom sector, the government had said that “during war time, enemy country may use its capabilities to control or instruct the suppliers from their country to block equipment supply or critical support.”
From April 1,2013, all telecom products will be tested in-house in India.