Chairman, Telecom Commission & Secretary,
Dept of Telecom, Govt of India
Ms. Aruna Sundararajan is India’s Telecom Secretary and Chairman of the Telecom Commission. A 1982 batch IAS officer from Kerala Cadre, Ms Sundararajan, is one of the most senior civil servants of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in the country. Ms Sundararajan has over three decades of experience in a variety of leadership roles in the Central and State Governments, especially in Economic and Development Administration, Investment Promotion and IT/Telecom Domains. Presently, as the Secretary in the Ministry of Telecom, she is spearheading the rapid growth of telecommunications services, which is the basic underlying platform for comprehensive development of the country. Ms Sundararajan is also spearheading the development of National Telecom Policy 2018, and the implementation of BharatNet, world’s largest rural broadband connectivity programme, which is aimed to connect 2.5 lakh Grama Panchayats with high-speed broadband by March 2019. It was under her leadership the first phase of BharatNet aimed to connect one lakh Grama Panchayats was successfully completed within the deadline of 31 Dec 2017.
Ms Sundararajan heads a high-level committee formed by the Govt of India to look into procedures for sharing of infrastructure for utilities like water pipes and telecom cables. She is also a member of the high level committee constituted to identify key data protection issues in the country and recommend methods of addressing them.
Driving Digital India
Ms Sundararajan, in her earlier capacity as the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, was the force behind driving the Digital India initiatives particularly during the post-demonetization phase. She was a catalyst in promoting e-Governance for empowering citizens, promoting the inclusive and sustainable growth of the Electronics, IT & ITeS industries, enhancing India’s role in Internet Governance, adopting a multipronged approach that includes development of human resources, promoting R&D and innovation, enhancing efficiency through digital services and ensuring a secure cyber space. She has experience in heading large infrastructural projects, including Public Private Partnership initiatives.
Initiated the IT wave in Kerala
Ms. Sundararajan was instrumental in establishing the IT department of Kerala way back in 1998. As Kerala’s founding IT Secretary, she had conceived and spearheaded the Akshaya project, the largest e-literacy project of its kind where over 1 million people were trained in basic digital skills on a campaign mode. Akshaya also catalysed one of the largest known Internet Protocol (IP) based rural wireless networks in the world. Akshaya has received domestic and international acclaim as one of the most pioneering and digitally transformational projects globally.
Ms. Sundararajan was also instrumental in establishing the Indian Institute of Information Technology Management – Kerala (IIITMK), and the Kochi Infopark, which changed the IT landscape of the state of Kerala and in initiating the SMART City project, Kochi.
Young Entrepreneurs Summit (YES)
As the Managing Director of Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation, Ms Sundararajan, in 2014, realized the concept of Young Entrepreneurs Summit (YES), aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among youth, which still remains as the flagship event of Kerala in terms of building and fostering the growth of entrepreneurship in young minds.
She had held many important positions including the Country Head of the Global E schools Initiative of the UN and CEO of the prestigious Common Service Centre Project under the National E-Governance Project, of the Government of India. She has also served as the Secretary to the Ministry of Steel, Govt of India, Additional Secretary, Telecom & Administrator, Universal Service Obligation Fund, Government of India and CMD, BBNL [Bharat Broadband Network Limited]
Ms.Sundararajan was honoured as one of the top professional women achievers by India Today in 2009 and by Forbes Business Magazine in Aug 2012. She was also honored with the USIBC Transformative Leadership Award 2017 for distinguished public service and her commitment to advancing U.S.-India cooperation and Digital India, constituted by the US-India Business Council.