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May 5, 2000
'Sankhya Vahini will not spawn a private monopoly'
The government today tried to put to rest the fears of the opposition that the Sankhya Vahini project will lead to the emergence of a private monopoly over the entire information technology and communications sector in the country.
The government said that the equity structure and the composition of the company will be such that its control is not with the foreign partner.
Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha (the Upper House of Parliament) on the calling attention notice on the situation arising out of the Sankhya Vahini project, Communications Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said, that the project will be for data communication and would be subjected to licensing.
Of the eight directors proposed by the company, three will be from the Department of Telecom, or DoT, and three from IUNET, the American partner.
One director will be a representative of the educational institutions of India. Sankhya Vahini will appoint the eighth director, who will be the managing director.
All decisions of the board are expected to be unanimous and in case of any differences, the matter will be decided by a majority mandate, with at least one director for DoT and one from IUNET voting favourably.
Paswan said the Sankhya Vahini project evolved as a technology mission of the national Taskforce on information technology and software development after broad-based consultations and discussions with academicians, scientists and technocrats.
The objective of the project is to establish a high-speed data network in India for the benefit of educational institutions, public and private corporations, service providers and individuals.
For learning, training, research and other multi-media activities, the taskforce recommended that the project be implemented by the DoT, along with IUNET, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cargnie Mellon University of the US.
Sankhya Vahini will give the country a competitive edge in the infotech sector in the global environment. This will also enable India to be ready with Internet 2 technology at about the same time when this technology becomes available in developed countries, he said.
Congress demands probe
Meanwhile, the Congress today pressed for a joint parliamentary committee, or JPC, probe into the controversial Sankhya Vahini project to bring out the full facts.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal said his party is not against the information highway technology, but wanted the hidden facts of this Rs 14-billion project to come out.
Though the IUNet was incorporated only on January 9,1999, the Department of Telecom Services, or DTS, executed a memorandum of understanding with it on October 16, 1998, he said.
Raj Reddy, as chairman of IUNet, executed the agreement on the one side, while a chairman could be elected only after a company was incorporated, he pointed out.
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