As the face-off with Chinese troops at the border continues, experts are unanimous in their view that India must reduce its dependence on China for critical technology, particularly in sectors like telecom.
Speaking in a panel discussion on CNBC-TV18, V Kamakoti, member of the National Security Advisory (NSA) board said that security was a key concern for 5G implementation.
"If you look at 5G particularly, there are a lot of software layers and if this software is going to come from outside then there is certainly going to be an imminent security threat," Kamakoti said.
He said India had a golden opportunity where 4G and 5G telecom services were concerned.
"4G and 5G are going to be more software-based, we have very little dependence on what we call as proprietary hardware. India being a software giant, we can get this software up. This is a good opportunity for us to reduce our dependence on proprietary systems and deploy a completely indigenous stack especially in the telecom sector,” he said.
"We build our own software, we get the security and we being the largest consumer ourselves we can deploy it and get the numbers then the cost also will come down,” he said.
He said it was very important that in all strategic and important technologies, we develop our own competence, and that was now possible because of the conceptual change one sees when comparing 2G and 3G versus 4G and 5G.
Ajay Dua, former Secretary, DIPP, who was part of the same discussion said that India had become too dependent on China for critical items in most sectors. But it would not be possible to ban all imports from China or impose high duties as Indian consumers could suffer because of that. Instead, India could respond in a calibrated manner by restricting imports of on-essential items.
KC Singh, former diplomat too was of the view that India need to take calibrated economic steps against China. The easiest way of doing that was to discontinue projects with Chinese companies.
Biswajit Dhar, Professor of Economics at JNU, said that over the last three decades, India had not done enough to strengthen its manufacturing capabilities. In some sectors, our dependence on China was as high as 90 percent, which makes us vulnerable. Also, in the case of Hong Kong, the country had moved up to fourth position as a source of import, from the eleventh position. Dhar said it was risky to be dependant on any one country.