Ms. Aruna Sundararajan is a 1982 batch Kerala Cadre officer of the Indian Administrative Service (‘IAS’). She superannuated on 31st July 2019 as Chairman of the Digital Communications Commission, and the Secretary (Telecom), Government of India.
As Secretary DOT, she was the chief architect of the National Digital Communications Policy 2018 which aims to propel India as a global leader in Digital Communications. Key achievements during her tenure were the launch of the country’s 5G roadmap, establishment of indigenous Test Bed, launch of the National Frequency Allocation Plan- 2018, and completion of the first phase of BharatNet. Additionally, her tenure saw the biggest wave of consolidations and mergers in the telecom industry including the largest M&A in India, a virtual tripling of telecom infrastructure, massive expansion in the activities of the USOF to cover the uncovered areas and promotional initiatives for start-ups in the telecom sector.
Prior to this, she served as the Secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), where she drove the Digital India initiatives, particularly during the post-demonetization phase. During her tenure, she was instrumental in establishing India as a major hub for electronics, particularly mobile manufacturing; launch of the BHIM app and the campaign for digital payments, use of Aadhaar for DBT, enhancing India’s role in internet governance and establishing the National Cyber Control Centre i.e. NCCC for cyber security.
She was a key member of the Governments High level Committee under Justice Srikrishna on Data Protection and Chair of the Committee to evolve a policy framework for addressing Digital Investment and Content issues.
She served as the Secretary to the Ministry of Steel, Government of India, where she was responsible for the introduction of a Minimum Import Price to counter cheap imports; thus ensuring the turnaround of the domestic steel industry. Much earlier, in 1988, she established and headed the Kerala government’s IT Department, amongst the first states to do so in the country.
In her over 37 years in Government, she has been a pioneer in establishing/ promoting a number of iconic initiatives, which were not only hailed as global best practices but which were also called up nationally, including the Akshaya e-literacy project in Kerala which became the model for the Common Service Centre Initiative, the Technopark and Infopark, Kochi, the Kerala Start-up Mission and the launch of one of the country’s very first mobile banking initiatives as early as in 2008-09.
Some of the honors bestowed in the past include the Top Professional Women Achievers by India Today in 2009, Top Professional Women Achievers by Forbes Business Magazine in Aug 2012, The USIBC Transformative Leadership Award 2017 and Business Todays 10 Most Powerful Women for 2018. In November 2018, Intel felicitated her with the Technology Visionary Award. In January 2019, she was bestowed the Digital Woman of the Year by IAMAI, at the 9th India Digital Awards, and was unanimously selected as the Telecom Person of the Year by Voice and Data in Feb 2019.