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When Make in Tech India really took off

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Sunil Rajguru
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While the Make in India scheme was launched way back in 2014, off late it's really taken off when it comes to Tech India. 2020 was a landmark year when India replaced Vietnam as the second largest producer of mobiles in the world and is now in competition directly with China.

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Samsung, Vivo, Micromax, Xiaomi and Spice Group stepped up on the count and we also got HMD Global (Nokia) and Wistron (HTC, Motorola, Blackberry). Qualcomm’s Design in India and the MSME-Samsung Technical Schools are some of the other initiatives. The crowning news came when it was announced that even the iPhone would be made in India. The Covid crisis led to the world being less dependent on the China supply chain network and that’s where India has the maximum opportunity. We are way behind in terms of mobile exports and we have to catch up on that front though.

Another win was Tesla, which has emerged as the most valuable auto company in the world. If the future is electric vehicles, then Elon Musk’s vision is very important for India. While they had shunned this country for years, Tesla has finally come good. Tesla has registered in India, will come out with an R&D centre in Bengaluru along with a car manufacturing unit in Karnataka. Close on its heels, Amazon announced that Fire TV stick devices would be made in India and more consumer products would follow. Foxconn will play an integral role in many such manufacturing plans. Amazon is also going ahead with its $2.8 billion cloud plan for India as we get our second AWS cloud computing region, and we are heading to be the most important outside the US.

Previously the government cleared ₹12,195 crore Production Linked Incentive norms over 5 years for the telecom and network equipment manufacturing. We are looking to push both 4G and 5G equipment with a focus on the Internet of Things or IoT devices. Both Jio and Airtel said they can come out with 5G services by the end of this year or the beginning of the next one. The ball is in the government’s court when it comes to 5G auctions.

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After that the government also came out with a 4-year ₹Rs 7,350 crore PLI for IT hardware and this will cover things like servers, PCs, laptops and tablets. As per the official statement: It will lead to production valued at Rs 3.26 lakh crore with exports valued at Rs 2.45 lakh crore. The combined direct and indirect revenue is expected to be in the range of Rs 15,760 crore and the time period will also generate 1.8 lakh jobs.

Something to also look at is social networking newbie Koo, which won the Atmanirbhar Bharat App Challenge. It has crossed 4 million users. That’s still small compared to the billions that Facebook has. But then again Twitter India is 17-18 million. If Koo can get even half of that, it will be a serious challenger now that many Central ministers are pushing it. We could go the China way and have many local apps which are huge even though they do not have a presence in any other country.

There are other small things like allowing local players to get into the mapping business. Flipkart backed MapMyIndia and ISRO are getting together for one such venture. Couple this with the Indian GPS satellite plan and we may no longer need Google Maps in the distant future.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented a paperless digital budget from a “Made in India” tablet device this year. The budget also looked to enhance digital payments and framing policies for building data parks. The government has presented the The Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, 2021 to “Create a facilitative framework for creation of the official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India.” That should be interesting. A Make in India cryptocurrency.

While 2020 was a great year for Make in Tech India, 2021 could prove to be even better.

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