Make ‘hardware and telecom' hay while the sun shines
DataQuest|September 2021
Can India become the electronics and telecom manufacturing hub of the next decade? Yes, but only if it makes the right moves
Rajesh Mehta & Uddeshya Goel

The advent of the pandemic has been a consequential inflection point in the fundamental working of the social system. With the nation being under lockdown from time to time and over 55% people working from home, a lot more time is now spent at home leading to the increased demand for greater comfort and security through smart devices and appliances. While the markets of several sectors got disrupted during the pandemic, the consumer electronics and the telecom market turned out to be resilient, even with the intermittent closure of physical providers across the nation.

But there is a wedge in the Indian market scenario – despite being one of the largest consumer markets, India’s share of global electronics manufacturing has been a mere 3.6%, even though domestic manufacturing grew at a CAGR of 23% over the last five years. This has been a consequence of snubbed opportunities in the last decade. When the trade wars began and companies were exiting China, many turned to ASEAN countries, including Vietnam, Taiwan and Indonesia. However, India failed to attract such companies, again. The policies that were incorporated by these SouthAsian countries in the last decade are finally being introduced in India with an indigenous flavour.

Today, India has another opportunity and it is paramount to not miss it. Small calibrated steps would go a longer way than grand gestures. Digitisation in India at a mass level, with the lowest broadband rates in the world, could captivate MNCs and open up millions of manufacturing and services jobs. The PLI scheme launched by the government is one such step in this direction.

For the electronics and telecom market, the PLI schemes are designed to trigger an impulse for scale both for Indian companies and foreign companies who wish to manufacture in India at competitive costs. They are designed to have a domino effect creating pools of ancillary firms and services, and a wealth of jobs.

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