The Government of India has announced the setting up of the “New, Emerging and Strategic Technologies” (NEST) Division under the MEA on Wednesday, 01 January 2020. This decision has been announced consequent to the decision of the government allowing the Chinese Giant, Huawai (banned by the US Government for alleged national security threat) to present its equipments for trials for the 5G incorporation in India, and subsequently to bid for the 5G equipment tender (Read More on this… at CYBER SECURE INDIA). The NEST will function under the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and will look into the issues pertaining to new and emerging technologies and will help in collaboration with foreign partners in the field of 5G and artificial intelligence which are in-line with India’s security goals.
NEST’s mandate shall include, but not be limited to, evolving India’s external technology policy in coordination with domestic stakeholders and in line with India’s developmental priorities and national security goals. Today, India has over 650 million Internet users, and has the fastest growing digital market. The Digital India initiative is now being extended to Rural India, with the amalgamation of 5G and AI technology. Projects like Aadhaar, NRC (National Register of Citizens), NPR (National Population Register), etc; ride on robust IT implementations.
NEST, which is being set up under the ambit of MEA is aimed at providing the essential spear-head for technology adoption that is available among the developed countries of the globe. The organisation, will become the one-point negotiator for technology, provide guidance for governance of rules concerning technology, drawing-up standards and architecture for India, evaluating the suitability of a technology for India, promulgation of technology strategy, negotiation with different stake holders, drawing of framework for technology adoption, etc. The NEST will also take on board IFS Officers who have experience at different areas of technology negotiations to create the capacity within. The skill set will also be utilised for Technology Diplomacy for a better managed import. This division will also help in assessing foreign policy and international legal implications of new and emerging technologies and technology-based resources, and recommend appropriate foreign policy choice. (NEST, can be considered as a parallel organisation to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the US)
The NEST division under the MEA is not well received by many. This office should have been placed directly under the PMO or part of the Cabinet Secretariat for better recognition. The need of the hour, is a better consolidation, with many organisations like the QCI (Quality Council of India), STQC (Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification), TIFAC (Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council), NTRO (National Technical Research Organisation), CSIR (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research), Principal Scientific Advisor to the PMO, NCCC (National Cyber Coordination Centre), Data Security Council of India (DSCI), National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog), DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation), etc; all offering advice on similar domain to the Government of India.