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Special teams handle arrival of African dignitaries

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New Delhi: Even as senior ministers and officials from Africa have started arriving for pre-summit consultations, special teams have been formed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) to ensure the smooth arrival of the dignitaries – from kings, to presidents to prime ministers – for the October 26-29 India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).

The sheer task of handling the aerial logistics is a daunting challenge in itself.

“The aviation logistics is a key area, as it is entry point for the dignitaries for the event,” a senior government official, who is in the know of transit arrangements, told IANS.

“For this purpose, we have formed special teams comprising air traffic control (ATC) and ground handling personnel at IGIA to track and handle the large contingent of foreign dignitaries who will arrive for the summit.”

These teams will work to coordinate the aerial movements of arriving dignitaries.

“We have stationed enough manpower and equipment to easily handle the communication, navigation, surveillance (CNS), air traffic management (ATM) and ground handling services for the arriving dignitaries,” the official said.

He pointed out that airspace over the IGI airport will not be closed to cater to the VVIP aerial movements.

“Nowadays, airspace restrictions are not imposed during VVIP movements. However, special teams do handle the monitoring and surveillance of such flights. This will also be accorded to the flights ferrying the dignitaries,” the official said.

However, special protocols will be followed to administer smooth transit to and from the airport.

“We will make sure that the aircraft are not kept waiting on ground to take off or circling in the sky for getting a landing slot. Arrangements have been made in advance so that these circumstances do not arise,” the official said.

Another senior government official associated with organising the event said that the dignitaries will start arriving from October 26-27 and start departing from Oct 29.

“Many of the dignitaries are arriving here by scheduled flights. Nearly half of the visiting dignitaries will be ferried by chartered jets or state-owned aircraft,” said the official.

The dignitaries travelling by scheduled flights will be formally received by the MEA (ministry of external affairs) officials at the IGIA’s Terminal-3 (T3) area known as the Canyon. This enormous area, that also houses the immigration counters, is resplendent with large-scale models of ‘hand dance mudras’ (gestures).

Chartered or state-owned aircraft have been allotted dedicated parking bays which will be connected to the airport terminal via aerobridges. Dignitaries arriving by these flights will then be received in the same manner as those who arrive by scheduled flights.

Dedicated parking bays and contact stands have already been allotted to the dignitaries coming through private jets or state-owned aircraft, the official said.

He said that a few dignitaries will disembark at bays located at the technical area of the Indian Air Force. This is being done on the request of the protocol staff of some of the visiting delegations.

On the parking of aircraft, the official said that there is ample airside space and bays available to handle all the private jets and state-owned aircraft.

“Unlike other mega diplomatic events of the past, when few aircraft were parked in nearby airports such as Agra or Jaipur due to shortage of space in Delhi, this time around there is enough parking space available at the IGIA,” the official added.

On the city side, apart from the well manicured landscapes, the roads to and from the airport will sport the Indian flag along with those of the 54 African nations.

(Rohit Vaid,IANS)

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How telecom has become driver of economic change in India

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The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front.
The country's hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. Wikimedia Commons
  • India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution
  • The sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991
  • India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world

For the most part of human history, the change was glacial in pace. It was quite safe to assume that the world at the time of your death would look pretty much similar to the one at the time of your birth. That is no longer the case, and the pace of change seems to be growing exponentially. Futurist Ray Kurzweil put it succinctly when he wrote in 2001: “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” Since the time of his writing, a lot has changed, especially with the advent of the internet.

India has done well to stay ahead of the curve in the technological revolution. The country’s hyper-competitive telecom sector has led the revolution from the front. In fact, according to Reserve Bank of India data, the sectoral change in productivity has been the highest in the telecommunications sector since the reforms of 1991, growing by over 10 percent. On the other hand, no other sector has had a productivity growth of above five percent during the same period. It is no wonder that it has also been one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Indian economy, growing at over seven percent in the last decade itself.

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Such an unprecedented pace of growth has been brought about the precise levels of change that Kurzweil was so enthusiastic about. Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Meanwhile, India has managed to provide the cheapest telephony services around the world, which has hit rock bottom after the entry of Reliance Jio. This has ensured access to those even at the bottom of the pyramid.

A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country.
A rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. Wikimedia Commons

Even though consumers have come to be accustomed to fast-paced changes within the telecom sector, the entry of Jio altered the face of the industry like never before by changing the very basis of competition. Data became the focal point of competition for an industry that derived over 75 percent of its revenue from voice. It was quite obvious that there would be immediate economic effects due to it. Now that we’re nearing a year of Jio’s paid operations, during which time it has even become profitable, we saw it fit to quantify its socio-economic impact on the country. Three broad takeaways need to be highlighted.

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First, the most evident effect has been the rise in affordability of calling and data services. Voice services have become practically costless while data prices have dropped from an average of Rs 152 per GB to lower than Rs 10 per GB. Such a drastic reduction in data prices has not only brought the internet within the reach of a larger proportion of the Indian population but has also allowed newer segments of society to use and experience it for the first time. Since the monthly saving of an average internet user came out to be Rs 142 per month (taking a conservative estimate that the consumer is still using 1 GB of data each month) and there are about 350 million mobile internet users in the country (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India data), the yearly financial savings for the entire country comes out to be Rs 60,000 crore.

To put things in perspective, this amount is more than four times the entire GDP of Bhutan. Therefore, mere savings by the consumer on data has been at astonishing proportions.

Today's smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons
Today’s smartphones have the power of computers that took an entire room in the 1990s, and the telecom sector has had to keep up with a provision of commensurate internet speeds and services. Wikimedia Commons

Now, this data has been used for services that have brought to life a thriving app economy within the country. So, the second level of impact has been in the redressal of a variety of consumer needs — ranging from education, health and entertainment to banking. For instance, students in remote areas can now access online courseware and small businesses can access newer markets. Information asymmetry has been considerably reduced.

Third, a rise in internet penetration has distinct positive effects on economic growth of a country. These effects arise not merely from the creation of an internet economy, but also due to the synergy effects it generates. Information becomes more accessible and communication a lot easier. Businesses find it easier to operate and access consumers. Labour working in cities has to make less frequent trips home and becomes more productive as a result. Education and health services become available in inaccessible locations. Multiple avenues open up for knowledge and skill enhancement.

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An econometric analysis for the Indian economy showed that the 15 percent increase in internet penetration due to Jio and the spill-over effects it creates will raise the per capita levels of the country’s GDP by 5.85 percent, provided all else remains constant.

Thus, India’s telecom sector will continue to drive the economy forward, at least in the short run, and hopefully catapult India into 20,000 years of progress within this century, as Kurzweil postulated. The best approach for the state would be to ensure the environment of unfettered competition within the industry. Maybe other sectors of the economy ought to take a leaf out of the telecom growth story. The Indian banking sector comes to mind. However, that is a topic for another day. (IANS)

(Amit Kapoor is Chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India. He can be contacted at Amit. Kapoor@competitiveness.in and tweets @kautiliya. Chirag Yadav, a senior researcher at the institute, has contributed to the article.)