That India, the US and Israel are coming together and collaborating to create next generation technologies, particularly 5G, is a good sign as far as national security in democracies goes. This opens the doors for more tech-savvy democratic nations in this area, notably Sweden, Finland and South Korea, to join this tech alliance. It also becomes a platform for other democracies such as Japan, Germany, the UK, France and Australia, each of which aspires to get on the next generation superhighway through 5G, to sit across the table and thrash out security-technology issues. What begins as T3, can easily expand to T11.
For India, this is an opportunity, handed on a tech platter by China. While India stands nowhere in terms of having a presence in 5G, developing these technologies with nations of similar values such as the rule of law could help it onboard this tech ship — 5G today will become the shoulder for 6G and higher technologies tomorrow. It will power other indigenisation experiments currently underway (see here and here). It won’t be easy: 5G equipment is a coming together of highly-specialised and complex technologies into a solution on which telecommunications services can ride. For instance, the current leader in this sector, China’s Huawei, sources software from the US, semiconductors from Germany and Taiwan, memory cards from Japan and South Korea — all over now due to sanctions by the US. Neither Israel nor India are part of this 5G supply chain yet. But by bringing minds, ideas and products together, this troika could create tech synergies that deliver security-certified equipment. These, then, can be offered to the rest of the world as global public goods.
To make the best of this alignment, which can become a model for future collaborations in cutting edge and security-sensitive technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence or climate change, India has to change the way it conducts business domestically. The public sector mentality must give way to a greater enabling and engagement of knowledge preserves (universities), commercial hubs (startups and corporations) and risk-takers. It must try and house the project in India, protect that house from political and bureaucratic interference, and create safe, robust and future-ready technologies. Like the G7, the India-US-Israel trinity should look at this alignment potentially as a T11 (eleven democracies working to create global products and standards on telecommunications).