An Indian Administrative Service officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, M.F. Farooqui has been chairman of the Broadband India Forum since October 2015.
His career began as a sub-collector in Tamil Nadu and since then he has held a number of key positions over the course of his career. Besides the post of secretary, Department of Heavy Industries, and special secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, he has held numerous important positions in virtually every government department – law and justice, external affairs, urban development and poverty alleviation, science and technology, finance, and economic affairs. He has also served as Consul General of India in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and as chief executive and member secretary of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority.
Interestingly, one of his early stints was as deputy secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), during 1990-91, much before the spectrum scandals. Subsequently, he rejoined DoT as secretary in 2013, and was involved in policy formulation at a very challenging time, in the wake of the spectrum controversies, and the department was required to devise the structure to get the auction going.
Farooqui is conscious of the fact that India is lagging behind other countries in terms of broadband penetration. “The big challenge is to ensure that the inclusivity of broadband is widespread. Today, the reach is limited to largely the well-off sections of society. However, we are planning to go from 175 million to 600 million by 2020, which can be a major enabler not only for the rich but also for the not-so-rich, as well as for the youth and innovators. Therefore, this is the basic infrastructure for the future of the country,” says Farooqui.
On the future of the telecom sector, he says that the next big phase of growth – mobile data has started. “We are going to see the integration of the sector in practically every aspect of economic life,” he says.
Farooqui has a bachelor’s degree in physics, mathematics and chemistry, a master’s degree in physics and an MBA from Madras University. He is on the board of directors of a number of companies. Besides this, he is also involved in philanthropic work “in a very modest way”.
In his spare time, he plays bridge and relaxes with his family and friends. He also tries to devote as much time as he can to the book he is writing.