At a time when the UPA government is drawing flak for its handling of the economy, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari has admitted to a policy gap in his Ministry, a ‘missed opportunity’, which could have been used to generate revenues and employment for small and medium-sized industry.

The Ministry, he said, was shepherding an ambitious exercise to digitise cable television across the country. This involved installing Set-Top-Boxes (STBs), which have been imported. Two phases in big cities and towns were almost near completion, while the entire process was scheduled to get over by 2014.

Calling it one of his ‘big regrets,’ Mr. Tewari said, “I am not making a value judgment, but digitisation could have been planned better.” Almost 30 million STBs have been installed, with another 80 million pending. “It is a missed opportunity for medium and small scale industries. We have given 6-8 billion dollars worth of business to China, Taiwan, and other Southeast Asian countries. Could we have not held the process back, and created the capacity in-house to deliver the boxes?” This could have then become the ‘Indian digitisation story’, instead of digitisation supplanted by ‘technology, software and hardware from outside.’

Mr. Tewari said he had urged Indian entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunity, innovate internally and deliver for the future phases.

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