In the fast-paced world of technology and communications, few individuals leave an indelible mark on an entire industry. Dr Ram Sewak Sharma is one such visionary technocrat who has transformed the Indian digital communications sector like no other. His exceptional leadership and relentless pursuit of innovation have propelled India to become a global leader in digital applications.
As the Chairperson of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), he played a pivotal role during an extremely challenging time in the Indian telecom sector. Under his astute leadership, TRAI initiated major reforms and groundbreaking initiatives that have had far-reaching impacts on the industry. One of his key accomplishments was the introduction of transparent, non-discriminatory, and non-predatory telecom tariffs. This game-changing move has revolutionised the telecom industry, fostering a fair and competitive environment for all stakeholders.
A true technologist at heart, Dr Sharma has consistently displayed an inclusive approach, bringing together diverse stakeholders in the telecom industry. His open, accessible, objective, and forward-looking style of leadership has accelerated India’s march towards becoming a digitally empowered nation. Recognising the transformative potential of telecom in bridging the digital divide, he tirelessly worked to ensure the adoption of contemporary technology, thus improving the economic and social conditions of the average Indian citizen.
Under his stewardship, TRAI actively sought public participation in policy-making through consultations, studies, and discussions aimed at bridging the digital divide. Various consultation papers on crucial topics such as cloud services, unified numbering plans, interoperable set-top boxes, and next-generation public protection and disaster relief communication networks were released, reflecting his commitment to a participatory approach.
Dr Sharma’s impact on the digital communications sector, however, extends beyond policy-making. He spearheaded the digitisation of broadcasting and cable services, enabling the seamless transition to a digital era. Additionally, he made significant recommendations on critical issues such as privacy, security, ownership of data in the telecom sector, and the development of indigenous telecom manufacturing. His dedication towards creating consumer education and awareness through a multitude of outreach programmes and workshops is highly commendable, that highlights his steadfast resolve to safeguard consumer interests.
The magnitude of his contributions extends beyond the realm of telecommunications. As the first Director General of the Unique Identification Authority of India, he played a pivotal role in creating Aadhaar, the world’s largest identity platform. His book, “The Making of Aadhaar: World’s Largest Identity Platform,” stands as a testament to his invaluable expertise and leadership in this groundbreaking initiative. Additionally, his tenure as the Secretary of the Ministry of Information Technology and IT further exemplifies his vast experience and deep understanding of the sector.
Over his illustrious 40-year career, Dr Sharma made significant contributions to the field of e-Governance, spearheading the integration of IT systems in various areas of public service delivery. His visionary efforts resulted in the introduction of digital systems in government treasuries, public grievances, office automation, land reforms, urban governance, tax reforms, and transport systems, among others. One of his notable achievements was crafting policies for digital payments, which laid the foundation for the highly successful Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in India. He also played a pivotal role in driving policies related to open source, open standards, and open APIs in all government projects.
In recent times, Dr Sharma’s role in leading the CoWIN platform for creating and maintaining the digital infrastructure for COVID-19 vaccines in India has been instrumental in the nation’s fight against the pandemic. His remarkable achievements also include his involvement in the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, the world’s largest fully government-funded health assurance scheme. He is credited with driving the development of the backbone necessary to support this integrated digital health infrastructure.
Voice&Data recognises his contributions, visionary approach, and unwavering commitment to transforming the digital communications sector, which makes him a technology leader who will continue to shape the future of the sector in India, inspiring generations to come.