2017 in definitive terms will be remembered as the year that saw the emergence and establishment of many milestones, which would go onto improve the parameters of doing business in the country. The implementation of the Good and Services Tax (GST) has been the biggest highlight for the industry this year. The reform has promised various benefits such as increase in input tax credits due to a liberal credit mechanism, efficiencies in logistics management due to the abolition of various check posts and possible reworking of the distribution network and lower compliance costs. All these benefits will support the growth of the industry. This has not only revitalised the sector but enhanced the ease of doing business index as well. Furthermore the introduction of the rural electrification scheme ‘Saubhagya’ will add impetus to the country’s LED industry. The recent increase in BCD taxes on consumer electronic items will further contribute towards enhancing local manufacturing, and improving the efficiency of business ecosystem in the country. From a technological standpoint especially in the case of internet of things, 2017 was a lift off year. Over 500 start-ups this year ventured themselves into the field of IoT, which is a testimony of its growing significance. With smartphones continually becoming the sole gadget of reliance for many individuals, they will soon become the major propagator of IoT in the country. During the last 3-4 years, smartphone manufacturers have also focused extensively on the hardware shaping the physical attributes.
However, since last year we have noticed a bit of threshold as far as what hardware can bring to a smartphone. Today, software comprising of applications and user-interface (UI) has become the deciding factor to upgrade yourself to the next level of technology. The evolution of technology software has opened endless opportunities. Customers will continue to look for technology which will shape the product interface and the way we interact with our smartphones. With that specific focus in mind, last year Panasonic India launched its AI smartphone powered by its virtual assistant Arbo. In a positive foregoing conclusion to the year, the government’s decision to raise custom duties on various electronic products served as a positive reinforcement tool to back its ‘Make in India’ vision.
Looking forward to the year, I believe the durable industry is going to be a driving force which will propel India into the index of the world’s top 5 economies by 2022. The current government’s premier initiatives ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ fall generously within the parameters of the ACE Industry. Besides expanding its manufacturing capabilities from Rs 55,765 crore during 2015-16 to Rs 64,752 crore by 2016-17, the industry will also be centrally responsible for driving revolutionary technologies such as AI and IoT which are primarily driven by smart devices. This puts the sector in a rather unique position in terms of growth potential, as the industry is all set become a $31.5 billion segment by 2022. The ACE manufacturing and digitised sector will play a key role in India’s development as the nation becomes more urban and industrialised. With support from the government, the Indian durable industry aspires to increase the local value add by 2-3 times.
The writer is president and CEO, Panasonic India and South Asia