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Security lens on sensitive imports

business Updated: Feb 04, 2013 21:33 IST
Anupama Airy
Anupama Airy
Hindustan Times
Anupama Airy

Following the controversy over the security implications of the presence of Chinese companies in India's telecom sector, the UPA government has decided to go the whole hog and carry out detailed security checks on overseas procurement of all 'sensitive' equipment.

The ministry of home affairs has circulated a note to all ministries perceived as sensitive, such as defence, commerce, science and technology, electronics and information technology, telecommunications, power, earth sciences, external affairs and the national security councils (NSCs), on the formulation of "guidelines mandating clearance from the security angle" whenever sensitive equipment is procured from overseas.

Top government sources said at the heart of the policy will be imports related to defence equipment, equipment associated with installation of radars by the ministry of earth sciences, power machinery besides telecommunications.

A high level committee of secretaries (CoS) will meet shortly to formalise a policy that will detail guidelines that will make it mandatory for security clearance for such sensitive imports.

It has also been proposed that India should have its own standards and technical regulations for addressing security concerns. For effective enforcement, the country should develop in house capabilities of conformity assessment.

One of the existing International Standards being used by leading nations may be adopted as interim guidelines.

Replying to the MHA's note, the ministry of commerce and industry said in a letter on January 9 that it was "not desirable to depend on third party conformity assessment".

"We may learn from the experience of telecom, wherein they have mandated that all the equipments will be tested in-house in India from April, 1, 2013," the reply added.