The country has to have an effective manufacturing mechanism to meet the demands of Digital India programme, says Dr Ajay Kumar, Joint Secretary, DeitY, Ministry of Communication & IT, Government of India, in an interaction with Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network (ENN)
The Government of India has launched the ambitious ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ programmes. How it is going to help the Electronic System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM)?
Electronic System Design and Manufacturing is one of the main pillars for both the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ programmes. At present, demand for electronics goods in the country is more than 100 million dollars. It is expected to rise to 400 billion dollars by 2022. This kind of demand cannot be met through imports. And, with the ‘Digital India’ programme on a roll, the demand is going to increase further. We have to have an effective manufacturing mechanism in the country to meet the demands of the programme.
What are the policies in place to encourage ESDM sector in India?
There are a series of policies to encourage ESDM sector in India. This sector was ignored earlier. The main reason behind it was the zero-duty regime under the Information Technology Agreement and Indian companies could not compete globally for various other reasons as well. Now, we have tried to address it from different angles. We have tried to ensure that the ecosystem for manufacturing and human resource availability improves. Also, we have tried to create an innovation ecosystem and preference is given to domestic manufacturers.
You said that a favorable ecosystem is being created. Can you throw some light on that?
We have tried to give it overall 360-degree coverage. We have given subsidy of 25 per cent on manufacturing in India to improve the ESDM ecosystem. We have come out with the schemes of electronic manufacturing cluster for the betterment of infrastructure. Two semiconductor fabrication plants have been approved, which will provide the chips required for manufacturing.
Please elaborate on steps to encourage innovations.
The Electronics Development Fund (EDF) has been approved by the Government of India. It is really important to encourage innovations.
It is a mother fund and it will support daughter funds. This daughter funds will be privately owned and professionally managed and they will provide risk capital for creating new technologies. The EDF will have minority share in these daughter funds. This will create a whole new ecosystem of more venture fund capital for innovation in this sector.
Three incubators have been set up in Delhi, Kochi and Patna. The Delhi incubator has been set up jointly by the Delhi University, STPI & IESA; Kochi incubator is set by StartUp Village & IITM Kerala; and Patna incubator has been set up by IIT Patna. This will again help in forming new start ups in this area.
In the area of medical electronics, we have instituted a programme where we fund research by industry to develop new medical electronic products. This is being implemented through BIRAC. Keeping in mind the scope of joint collaborations with industry in other countries, we now have schemes to fund that kind of research and technology development. This is being implemented by GITA – Global Innovation & Technology Alliance.
Our main aim of encouraging innovations is to ensure that it takes place within the industry itself and not only in the government labs. All these schemes are industry-oriented.
What steps are being taken to ensure human resource development?
Three major schemes are in place. One is at the vocational level. We have created schemes for developing skills at the shop floor level. The Government of India provides 75 per cent assistance for any skill development for general candidates and 100 per cent for economically weaker section. Four lakh people can be trained and these people will be trained specific to the industry requirements and the course will be approved by the industry. Any training centre, which is recognised by the Sector Skill Council, will be allowed to provide this kind of training.
ESDM is one of the main pillars for both ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’ programmes. At present, demand for electronics goods in the country is more than 100 million dollars, which is expected to rise to 400 billion dollars by 2022. This kind of demand cannot be met through imports
There is scheme for PhD level also. We aim to scale up the number of PhDs up to 3,000 in the next five years. In last two years, we have been able to produce 1,114 PhDs. The challenge lies in the infrastructure development of various institutes to provide PhDs in this segment.
We are also setting up seven regional ICT academies. Hopefully, by next year, these institutes will become operational.
Where do you see India’s future in respect to the global digital landscape?
India is the biggest market. World markets are getting saturated. We have technology-savvy young population, and world is looking at us with hope and enthusiasm for all these reasons. There were challenges in the ESDM sector as well in India. However, now the level of optimism is really bright as people can see opportunity with us.