Ravi Shankar Prasad on Apple, Samsung & making India a manufacturing hub

‘In spite of the Corona uncertainties, big manufacturers have trusted the India story.’

Agencies
Electronics manufacturers have proposed production worth Rs 11.5 lakh cr and they will be giving jobs to 12 lakh Indians, says Ravi Shankar Prasad, union minister for Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology and Communications, Union Telecom Minister.

A few weeks ago you announced the production linked incentive scheme for manufacturing of electronics. It seems to be a big success with 22 applications coming in. As many as three contract manufacturers of Apple for instance have come up?
Let me tell you very clearly that this is a production linked incentive where you get incentive based on your production. Atmanirbhar Bharat is not against any country, it is India positive. The plan is to make India a big hub of electronic manufacturing global supply chain. India being a major economy of the world would also reinforce the global economy. That is the whole benchmark of Atmanirbhar Bharat or Make In India.

I announced the scheme in April and the scheme ended on 31st of July. What is remarkable is that even during the time of the corona pandemic, all the major mobile manufacturers, contract manufacturers and also component manufacturers have chosen to apply in this scheme in such an exciting manner. They will be manufacturing mobile components etc. worth Rs 11.5 lakh crore. They will export products worth Rs 7 lakh crore in the coming five years and they will be giving jobs to 300,000 Indians directly and 900,000 Indians indirectly.


What does it indicate? It indicates the trust in India as a good investment and manufacturing destination. Why? Because India is a robust democracy led by a globally respected Prime Minister Narendra Modi who believes in ease of doing business; number two, we have good human resources, engineers and other technical qualified people. Third, India is a huge market by itself. It is a great day for the government, for Atmanirbhar Bharat and me personally that in spite of the challenging times of corona, the big manufacturers have trusted the India story.

Since 2014, you, the Prime Minister and various other ministers have been inviting investors and we started seeing the first Made In India iPhone last year. What exactly is Apple, Samsung going to do?
Before I come to Apple and Samsung, you must understand that in these challenging times Facebook invested India in a big way, Google invested in India in a very big way. Now all the major companies are seeking to invest in India digitally speaking because programmes like digital India, Make In India are being globally recognised and are also driving the global digital economy in every substantive measure. They understand India is a good market and a good country for value addition and so they are coming.

Now as far as your query about the two mobile companies are concerned, their business plan is their jurisdiction. I should not make any particular comment except to flag that both Apple and Samsung among themselves control nearly 60% of the global mobile sales value.
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Samsung manufactures on its own and also does some contract manufacturing. Apple goes for substantial contract manufacturing. If most of the Taiwanese companies who undertake contract manufacturing for Apple namely Foxconn, Wistron, Pegatron and their other sister companies have chosen to come as five global champions, that is a very robust indication. That is the only thing I can tell you. I am very happy that Apple has started assembling from India.

The first thing I had tweeted was ‘Designed in California, assembled in India.’ Now they will be making in India. Hence the huge production base in India and therefore I welcome Apple as I said in my press conference. I welcome Samsung too. I remember in 2014 or 2015, as an IT Electronic Minister, I had gone to South Korea, I had visited Samsung headquarters. I said it is time for you to invest in India and they have come with a very big facility in Noida. The UP government also gave them help. I said India is a good market for you but also start exporting. Therefore they have also applied.

I am happy about all these projections -- Rs 11.5 lakh crore for manufacturing, exports worth Rs 7 lakh crore and the number of jobs to be created. These are not my number, these numbers are their projections which I have articulated and therefore it will lead to further value addition. Our estimation is the present value addition which is 12 to 13% or 14% is going to rise to 35% to 40%. It is just the beginning. I have instructed my officials to closely monitor the situation. I will do it myself. Further value addition supply chain reinforcement, finished products components etc. should be accelerated, that is how I see it.

Many Indian companies have applied as well. Whether it is Lava or Dixon or Micromax, clearly they have plans to manufacture a lot more and that may cut down the imports from countries like China. India has decided to restrict television imports. Will that be extended for other electronics as well?
First of all, the Make In India or Atmanirbhar Bharat is only India positive, it is not against any country at all, we are very clear about it. We are giving incentives in the sense that India has all the potential, all the good technical qualified human resources, a very facilitating and supporting government to make it happen. We came with those programmes and the companies, the manufacturers, the supply chain are appreciating that.
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In 2014, we had just two mobile factories and from merely 6 crore units of mobile phones, we have gone up to 33 crore. Electronic manufacturing rose 25% every year under our charge. As far as mobiles and other added components are concerned, 40 companies have applied for component manufacturing incentives and that includes PCB companies from Germany, Israel and America who have applied and we are very happy about it. We have medical electronics, surgical electronics and consumer electronics. From mobile phones to gadgets to television, India has the potential and the government will play the role of a facilitator that is all I would like to comment.

You are saying there are 40 component manufacturers who have applied and 22 companies that have applied to assemble and manufacture. What happens next?
I have to encourage these companies to start their production quickly and most of these companies are known international companies to follow that timeline. You may recall that when I had launched the production linked incentive in April, our intention was very clear-- five global giants will come to India and five Indian giants will compete with the global giants and in that connection I am very happy that five Indian companies have also come and whether it is Lava, Micromax or Dixon -- all of have great potential.
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My job will be to facilitate this. Acceleration and facilitation go hand in hand and today I said we shall be personally monitoring, helping, facilitating and my secretary IT and electronics or myself as a minister, we are just a phone call away.

When everybody is cutting back India is going out and getting these kind of investments. When you talk about acceleration and facilitation. Are you also going to play an active role in finding them land, factories etc?
They have got their complete autonomy and flexibility to do so. But even in that process if they need some help from me, why not? When Samsung came, Yogi Adityanath had become the Uttar Pradesh chief minister hardly a week ago and he asked me that Samsung is seeking a waiver on the stamp duty on the land which have been given to them and where they propose to establish a big factory in Noida.

I requested the chief minister that if you want to give an image of being a reformist chief minister please waive the stamp duty and he did and the rest is history. That is how we work. Our job of facilitation is very clear. Obviously these companies will go only where the state government is helpful. The ecosystem was also developing but ultimately the production linked incentive is not located in any state, it is only India positive.

What is the government doing to make sure that the manufacturers stay in India for the new wave of technology and electronic manufacturing is massive. We do not want to be left behind in 5G, . Any update there? Mukesh Ambani says we need to kill 2G and only focus on 5G!
I am not supposed to make any comment on what he said. I would only take a call that as far as 5G is concerned, your point is well taken. I am very keen that 5G technology must be developed by the innovative Indian mind. Not one, but many Indian technology companies have got all the wherewithal and the potential and the ability to do so, and they will do it. As regards the field trial of 5G, we will soon take a decision on that by allocating that trial spectrums. I would like India to also develop a home grown 5G ecosystem.

In fact, Mr Ambani said that on the occasion of the 43rd AGM of Reliance.. While we talk about Atmanirbhar, are you also telling me that you are not at all pressurised or not at all tempted to make sure that when it comes to 5G, the Indian companies, the non-Chinese companies get a preference?
First of all, you must know that I never take the name of any industrialist. I never do it. As a minister, I maintain my distance.

As far as Chinese companies are concerned I have told you I do not take the name of any country, but yes the Government of India has framed norms of security for countries having borders with India. There is a need for clearance. After all, the security of India is equally important and that has to be kept in mind.

Coming back to the production linked incentive schemes, you said you will do whatever it takes to make this into a reality. After mobile phones and component manufacturers, are you now looking at big electronics? For example, electric vehicles?
Why not? The way we have handled Covid technology, work from home has become a big norm in India. Today 85% of India’s IT industry is working from home including the backend offices. This could happen only because I liberalised the entire ecosystem for work from home including security deposits. About 14 crore Indians have downloaded the Aarogya Setu app. Again a home grown technology is being globally recognised as a helper in containing the contagious virus. Same is the case of Aarogya Covid Savdhan bulk messaging. We have used technology in a very substantial way to help contain this pandemic. This process will go on and I am very clear about it.

Electronic manufacturing is also a part of digital economy therefore we must ensure that we all need to work together to help India grow, develop, and leave a mark as a big electronic manufacturing destination which include consumer electronics, medical electronics, mobile electronics, component electronics, defence electronics, strategic electronics that is the ecosystem I expect and I have not the slightest doubt that in spite of our modest success, there is enough potential in India to emerge on those lines.
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