New policies on electronics manufacture and data security, among others, to boost the Digital India initiative, were promised by Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister for electronics and information technology. He also mentioned a software product policy and a start-up cluster scheme.

The minister met senior representatives of companies in these sectors for about two hours, to understand what the government could do to remove blocks in the aim of a USD 1 trillion (Rs 1 lakh crore) digital economy by 2022.

He said the industry was unanimous in saying the target of USD 1 trillion was understated and India could reach USD 2-3 trillion.

Among the companies represented were IBM, Wipro, Google, Microsoft, Tech Mahindra, Intel Corporation, Panasonic India, NIIT, Quickheal, Practo, Hike, Lava International, and Cyient. Plus those from the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) and the Internet and Mobile Associaiton of India.

The minister said there were big opportunities for foreign players in India. And, as the digital economy will grow, many more jobs will be created. “We will be shortly laying down the new electronics policy because between the old policy and (now), India under Narendra Modi has changed completely. Therefore, to boost electronics manufacturing, we will come up with a new policy,” Prasad said. The first National Policy on Electronics was formulated in 2012 and approved by the Cabinet in 2013.

Prasad said the new policy would look at growth areas in electronics manufacturing. Also, the government will come out with a new software product policy and have a data security and protection policy.

Regarding cyber security, the minister said low-cost products in this area had high potential. He said there was consensus between the government and industry to explore intersections between Digital India and start-ups, for which the government would set up an innovation zone.

His ministry, added Prasad, would soon have a goods and services tax (GST) cell. 

The ministry had earlier identified digital payments and the projects titled Make in India, Start-Up India, Skill India, 100 Smart Cities, 50 Metro Projects and Swachh Bharat to be key drivers of the digital economy project. 

It was also projected that the digital economy would generate 30 million jobs by 2024-25, double from now. Electronics, telecom and information technology plus IT-enabled services would be the top three contributors, with 8.9 million, 8.8 million and 6.5 million, respectively. Followed by e-commerce with six million and cyber security with 2.5 million.

E-commerce is set to grow 19-fold in generating employment, followed by 500 percent each in start-ups and the Internet of Things sector.  - Business Standard


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