The government launched an open-challenge competition on Wednesday to develop an Indian web browser amid a push for indigenous capability development in defence, IT hardware, and pharma.

"It is high time that the most important component of the virtual world, the web browser, is developed in India," Arvind Kumar, controller of certifying authorities, said at the Indian Web Browser Development Challenge in New Delhi.

The move marks a step away from reliance on U.S.-based browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox and Apple Inc.'s Safari.

The IWBDC has been styled as an open competition, inviting start-ups, micro, small, and medium enterprises, and firms registered in India to apply. The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Bengaluru, has been appointed as the anchor agency for the competition.

"India is among the countries with the largest number of internet users, and browsers can influence search behaviours and track the interests of users using cache and cookies," CDAC Executive Director SD Sudarshan said.

Hence, one of the key security requirements of the browser is to have its "own trust store" with certificates anchored to the Root Certifying Authority of India), Sudarshan said. "We will also have more bilateral agreements with countries to recognise our root certificate, making it more powerful."

He said the winners would be monetarily supported by the National Internet Exchange of India for three years. "We expect the entire process to be done by [the] end of next year."

The proposed web browser will also be required to comply with the World Wide Web Consortium standards, have support for Indian languages, and have an in-built ability to digitally sign documents.