Raja replaces Maran as IT minister

By agencies   |   Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 07:00 Hrs
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New Delhi: Andimuthu Raja took charge of the country's new communication and IT ministry by replacing Dayanadhi Maran.

Dayanidhi Maran's party, DMK, forced him to resign on the charge of a family divide triggered by a survey published by Dinakaran that resulted in violence in Madurai. Dinakaran is a newspaper owned by Maran's elder brother.

Finding a solution to the spectrum allocation issue will be the main challenge before Raja. Even as the telecom operators are facing a big shortage of spectrum in the roll-out of their existing 2G services, the ministry has been sitting for nearly a year on the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) recommendations to auction spectrum for 3G services that were expected to be launched in June this year.

Cellular Operators said that Raja also needs to push the Group of Ministers [GoM] to look into the transfer of spectrum from the defence ministry to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT).

Raja also has to face the challenge of creating a level playing field between the CDMA and GSM operators. However, the telecom operators want the government to take immediate steps to reduce high incidence of taxation in the sector that hinders the growth. Raja also has to address the poor record of the country on broadband connectivity.

Raja, 44, is a qualified lawyer and has been elected to Parliament three times from the Perambalur reserved constituency. Earlier he had served as a Minister of State for the ministries of health and family welfare and rural development between October 1999 and December 2003. He was the first elected to the 11th Lok Sabha from a DMK ticket in 1996, and was reelected for the second term during the 13th Lok Sabha.

As a voracious reader and a poet, Raja had authored many books including 'An autobiography of Democracy' and 'Oru Suyasarithai', which is a collection of Tamil poems.

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