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Working from home to be the new norm: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Work-from-home will be the new norm in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, minister of communications, and electronics and information technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Tuesday, and asked the departments under his charge to work on putting in place a platform to facilitate the emerging trend.

Prasad held review meetings with officials in both ministries to work out a plan to make work-from-home a permanent fixture in a wide range of “other service provider” establishments, officials said..

The first step towards the policy formulation, the officials said on condition of anonymity, will be a meeting with industry associations in the coming days.

For such a policy to work, a senior IT ministry official said, infrastructural bottlenecks will need to be removed “We will have to ensure that the relaxations we have announced for these services become more permanent and the system will need to use the least amount of bandwidth,” the official said.

Other service providers, or OSPs, include IT and IT-enabled services such as international call centres and business process outsourcing and knowledge process outsourcing centres, e-learning sites, billing centres and medical transcription companies..

The department of telecommunications (DoT) said on March 13 that OSP employees can work from home without going through an authorised PPVPN (provider provisioned virtual private network) as required by the rules. Later, DoT waived a mandatory Rs 1 crore deposit needed to let employees work from home; the OSP will only have to inform DoT of the addresses of its remote workers, it said.

DoT said OSPs will have to maintain a register of call logs and calls detail records for a whole year which must be provided to the department when it calls for the records. A penalty fee of Rs 5 lakh, the DoT said, will be levied if the OSP violates these terms, and its license will also be liable to be cancelled.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had in October 2019 recommended that DoT ease the norms needed to be followed by OSPs .

Sanjay Singh, vice president of the OSP Association of India, said removing the regulations may be a good move in the long run.

“The government should be able to improve the proactive monitoring system; if they can implement those controls, then the liberalised guidelines will be effective,” said Singh.

―Hindustan Times

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