The government will come out with three new policies, including electronics manufacturing and data protection, as part of its efforts to make India a $1 trillion digital economy in a few years. Speaking after a two-and-a-half hour meeting with Indian tech industry captains, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today exuded confidence that India is well-positioned to become a $1 trillion digital economy in next few years. “The industry has assured us that they are committed to support us in this mission… We will be shortly laying down the new electronics policy because between the old policy and now, India under Narendra Modi has changed completely,” Prasad said. He added that the government will also come up with a new software product policy and a framework for data security and protection.
The minister, however, did not disclose the timeline for these new policies. The meeting was attended by top experts such as Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar, Google India’s Rajan Anandan, Wipro’s Rishad Premji, Indian Cellular Association National President Pankaj Mohindroo, Internet and Mobile Association of India President Subho Ray and Hike Messenger CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal, among others. “Cybersecurity was also discussed (at the meeting). Low cost cyber security products have great potential… and we are going to have a framework for data security and data protection,” Prasad said.
Notable absentees from the event included Flipkart co- founder Sachin Bansal and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma. The Ministry has identified digital payments, Make In India, Start-Up India, Skill India among the key drivers of the digital economy. MeitY expects IT/ITeS sector to grow to $350 billion by 2025 from $160 billion, while electronics sector is poised to touch $300 billion by the same time (from $100 billion currently.
Telecom and e-commerce are projected to grow to $150 billion each, while sharing economy and digital skilling each presents a $30 billion opportunity. Digital payments, cybersecurity and Internet of Things — all of which are expanding at a significant pace — are expected to touch $50 billion, $35 billion and $20 billion, respectively. It was also projected that the digital economy will generate 30 million employment by 2024-25, which is double than the current scenario. Highlighting the potential of the “new economy” with avenues like digital payments and e-commerce, Prasad said the focus needs to be on creating technology that is affordable, developmental and inclusive.
He added that being an industry with an estimated worth of $400-450 billion already, Indian digital economy would not take long to reach $1 trillion. Prasad said that deliberations at the meeting had also brought out the need to promote an ecoystem to facilitate more startups in areas like education, agriculture and healthcare. “I have decided that we will have a coordinated action with Health, Agriculture and HRD Ministries to promote an ecoystem to facilitate more startups in these areas,” he said. Prasad added that the idea of setting up special innovative zones for startups will be explored and a framework for startup cluster policy will be developed.
Besides, digital skilling has a lot of potential as India has a rich talent pool that can be used to meet global demand in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. “We need to re-skill and re-purpose ourselves. We have a list of different skills, where we need people… If you re- skill yourself in blockchain or AI, there is no shortage of jobs globally,” Tech Mahindra Managing Director and CEO CP Gurnani said.
Citing a Nasscom report, Prasad said that in the last three years, almost six lakh people have been employed in the IT sector, while in 2016-17, the number of people employed was around 1.7 lakh. About 2.5-3 million new jobs are expected to be created by 2025. He refuted reports of job losses by Indian IT firms, terming them as “motivated”. “There has been a lot of debate, and by any standards of economy, this talk of job decline in the IT sector is motivated,” he said. In terms of challenges, the participants had pointed out the need for setting up a dispute resolution mechanism and liberal regulatory norms.