As the Indian government responds to COVID-19, several technology trade associations are urging Indian officials to ensure that information and communications technology workers can continue to perform their essential work during shelter-in-place orders.
In a letter to several government officials, led by global tech trade association Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), ITI and the other associations underscore that companies in IT services, e-commerce services, communication services, and ICT infrastructure support services are a critical part of the success of shelter-in-place and other coronavirus response measures — allowing students to engage in distance learning, families to stay connected, businesses to continue operating, and enabling the delivery and pick-up of groceries, medical supplies, household staples, and other essential items.
“Tech companies and the IT industry globally are supporting (by providing various products and services) health care providers, educational institutions, first responders, the pharmaceutical industry, all levels of government, and countless others responding to the coronavirus,” the associations wrote. “The ability to stay connected and communicate in real-time is a critical part of ongoing response efforts, and any material disruption to or closure of operations could severely impact the IT industry’s ability to support these mission-critical endeavors. To help ensure the continuity, stability, and cybersecurity of these services, any government’s list of essential business exemptions should include the companies that provide these products and services and the companies that support them.”
The technology associations asked the government to clearly define the following services as essential during lockdown situations and therefore be allowed to function with proper hygiene standards and precautions:
- Telecom services and equipment manufacturing factories, network operations centers, internet services including IT and ITES;
- E-commerce services and their warehouses and agents working for delivery of essential items; and
- ICT infrastructure support services including supply of hardware and software products.
The letter was sent to officials throughout the government, including the Cabinet Secretary, and Secretaries of the Ministry of Electronics and IT, Ministry of Commerce, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. It also went to State Chief Secretaries across the country.
Signees of the letter include the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), and the Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT).