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IT Secretary R S Sharma appointed as TRAI chairman

Net neutrality, next round of spectrum auctions key issues before the new chairman

Mansi Taneja  |  New Delhi 

Information Technology Secretary Ram Sevak Sharma on Monday was appointed chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).

“The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Ram Sewak Sharma ... as chairperson Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for a period of three years,” a government order said. The post fell vacant in mid-May when the earlier chairman Rahul Khullar had retired.

Sharma was set to retire in September as secretary of department of electronics and information technology. A 1978-batch IAS officer of the Jharkhand cadre, he was a probable choice because of his familiarity with the telecom and IT sector.

Sharma had worked closely with Nandan Nilekani on the Aadhaar card project. He was director-general and mission director of the Unique Identification Authority of India, responsible for overall implementation of the ambitious project. Prior to this, Sharma was chief secretary to the Jharkhand government. He has also worked in the department of economic affairs and dealt with bilateral and multilateral development agencies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. He was also in-charge of financing of infrastructure projects in the highways, ports, airports and telecom sectors.

Sharma holds a Master’s degree in mathematics from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and a Master’s in computer science from the University of California, USA, according to his profile on the department of electronics and IT website.

The post assumes importance in the wake of recent debate over net neutrality. The telecom regulator had called for a consultation paper on the issue but Khullar retired before the recommendations were made. Trai also has to give its views on the next round of spectrum auctions.

Among the other candidates short-listed for Trai chairman were Power Secretary P K Sinha, Information and Broadcasting Secretary Bimal Julka, Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher, former telecom secretary M F Farooqui, and former Reserve Bank of India deputy governor Subir Gokarn.

Besides, he will have to work on improving quality of service by telecom operators across the country to address frequent call drops.

First Published: Tue, July 28 2015. 00:15 IST