Pitroda appointed adviser to PM

Telecom wizard Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda has been appointed adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on infrastructure, innovation and information.

Pitroda, who was chairman of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC), will hold the rank of a Cabinet Minister and advise Prime Minister on integrating information communication technology (ICT) in the sectors of infrastructure, health, justice and information. He was appointed to the new post on Tuesday.

“I was appointed yesterday (Tuesday). We look at organising integration of national knowledge network and broad band connectivity for better service delivery to the citizens,” Pitroda said.

He said he would work for the promotion of ICT in all social sectors and in infrastructure. The team led by Pitroda would develop an action plan for the next decade which would be a decade for innovation and infrastructure.

Pitroda’s appointment is the second high-profile one made by the prime minister after roping in former Infosys co-chairman Nandan Nilekani to head the Unique Identification Authority of India.

As head of the National Knowledge Commission, Pitroda had submitted a series of reports for reforms in higher education, elementary education, health, agriculture, traditional medicine and ICT. A number of his recommendations including setting up an overarching education body incorporating regulatory bodies like the UGC and the AICTE are under consideration by the Centre.

As recommended by NKC, the government has also started an innovative project, a National Knowledge Network, for giving broadband connectivity to about 100 science laboratories and research institutions.

Pitroda is also widely considered to have played a major role in India’s communications revolution. He came to limelight in 1987 when he became late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s advisor in shaping India’s foreign and domestic telecommunications policies. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan this year for his contribution to Science and Engineering.

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