China battled to get India’s permission to be a part of 5G test runs at a time when the United States is pressuring New Delhi not to allow Beijing's involvement in next generation high-speed internet, citing national security concerns.
Japan, on the other hand, seems to have lost out on an opportunity by postponing an important meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe that was scheduled to be held in Guwahati in the northeastern Indian state of Assam from 14 to 17 December.
The meeting, however, was postponed as massive protests over a contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), entitling illegal non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan who entered India before 2015 to apply for Indian citizenship, and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which requires Indians to prove their ethnicity with documents, rocked Assam along with the rest of the country.
The Guwahati Summit was organised to demonstrate 5G technology to both prime ministers, who were to gaze at the Himalayan River – Brahmaputra, using special eyewear.
In this sense, India’s internal conflicts proved fruitful for China in terms of pushing Japan away and reducing the competition in acquiring India’s 5G spectrums. At present, Japan’s future in India’s upcoming 5G test-runs remains unclear.
In October, Huawei India head Jay Chen reiterated that the company was ready to sign a "no backdoor" agreement with New Delhi to put security concerns to rest.
Given that the 5G competition is so fierce in India, the Indian government has decided to form a new Core Information and Communication Technology Commission (Core-ICT) to take care of all decisions relating to 5G.
Expected to be headed by former Indian Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan, the 15-member Core-ICT commission would have all the executive and financial authorities along with a budget of $1.4 billion (Rs. 100 crore).
India’s federal government enacted the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act at the beginning of December. The controversial law grants Indian nationality to persecuted Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, who entered India illegally before 2015.
The law, however, does not grant citizenship to Muslims from these three neighbouring countries, something that protesters and several opposition parties in the country see as a violation of the Constitution. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has, however, disputed these claims, stressing that the law is not anti-Muslim.