According to Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the government wants to reduce reliance on imports from dubious sources by producing up to 70% of the nation’s IT hardware needs domestically over the next three years. Speaking to reporters, Chandrasekhar stated that in an effort to reduce reliance on supplies from dubious sources, the Ministry of Electronics and IT will share a draft of IT hardware import rules with industry players later in the day.
“At present, almost 80% of our supplies to the digital ecosystem come from imports. We want to make sure whatever the sources are, they are trusted. As part of emphasising trust, it is obvious that the Indian component of that supply chain will have to grow. Today 8-10% of our supply requirement comes from India, we want to make that 65-70% in the next three years,” the minister said.
With a pledge to produce personal computers, laptops, tablets, servers, and other equipment valued at Rs 4.65 lakh crore during the scheme period, up to 40 companies—among them Dell, HP, and Lenovo—have applied for the IT hardware PLI scheme. If all companies are chosen for the program, the government will need to increase the incentive amount from the original budgetary allotment of Rs 17,000 crore to Rs 22,890 crore.
The government’s PLI program has received praise from the industry players, but they have expressed concern about sudden import restrictions on IT hardware. The minister stated that he will meet with business leaders later in the day to discuss draft regulations on a proposed restriction on the import of IT hardware.
“Today we are meeting with the industry and sharing with them a draft of the import management system. It is aimed at addressing high dependency on imports from sources that are not fully verified as trusted,” Chandrasekhar said. The new rules to allow restricted imports of laptop, tablets, server etc are proposed to be in place from November 1. “As we build out the internet, Indian cloud and data centres, the servers that go into them, the laptop, all that should be from trusted sources. As part of emphasising trust, it is obvious that the Indian component of that supply chain will have to grow,” Chandrasekhar said.
US-based technology industry body ITI President and CEO Jason Oxman in a blog on Friday said India is a leader in the technology policy space and with putting in place of Digital Personal Data Protection Act, it has achieved a feat that only few other economies have achieved. He, however, said India must take a risk-based approach with respect to imports and recognise that no single country can manufacture everything at home.
“Last month, India abruptly announced a new import restriction policy which would require a new licensing regime for imports of tablets, laptops, and other technology devices without any formal stakeholder engagement. Such policies will unnecessarily impede business and harm consumers and firms within India if implemented without extensive revisions, demonstrating the importance of ensuring the tech industry has a voice at the table,” Oxman said.
ITI represents global technology companies including Apple, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Lenovo, Samsung etc. “Stakeholder consultation can help shape effective and appropriately targeted policies to advance India’s objectives, facilitate foreign investment, and comply with international trade obligations and norms,” Oxman said.