The decision to establish a task force consisting of industry and government representatives to accelerate the growth of the domestic market through increased PC penetration has come at the right juncture. The fact that the task force will have the representation from CII, MAIT, ELCINA and the Ministry of Information Technology, should ensure that MAIT’s Hardware Vision 2005 becomes a reality at the end of five years.
Given the slow market conditions, the task force will have to work that much harder to implement the vision. The five planks of the vision are: grow the market, improve PC penetration, increase focus on R&D, make the PC affordable and create an enabling manufacturing environment.Â
If everything goes smoothly, this vision should move PC penetration from the present six per 1000 to 26 per 1000 in the next five years. It is also expected to boost employment from 1.2 lakh to 5 lakh and raise exports from $0.27 billion to $5 billion.
The PC volumes are expected to go up from 1.8 million to 10 million.Â
These ambitious objectives will be achieved only by a close co-operation between the Central as well state governments and the IT industry. It goes to the credit of the minister for information technology, Pramod Mahajan, that he has recognized this fact and has given the full backing to the task force which will have the representation from his ministry as well.
Not only this, the minister has promised to the industry stalwarts and officials of the representative bodies that he will conduct a review every three months to ensure the implementation of the programs planned. He has also made it clear to the industry that solutions will not come from excise and duty cuts or subsidies.
The tough talk notwithstanding, if the fifth plank of the vision has to become a reality, then the minister has to convince his
colleagues in the cabinet to rationalize customs, excise and transaction costs to create a conducive manufacturing environment.Â
Industry leaders have always pointed out the lack of infrastructure in the country that has discouraged entrepreneurs from entering into IT manufacturing. The IT minister will have to look into this grouse closely and convince his colleagues to take up concrete measures to build up infrastructure that lives up to the expectations of the industry.Â
In fact, the task force can play a pivotal role in putting forward the industry’s point of view since it represents all the three major associations that work closely with the IT industry. In the past, each association was putting forward its proposals separately, at times working at cross purposes.
There is no reason why the country should fall behind China, Taiwan, Malaysia and other South Asian countries which have taken a lead in hardware manufacturing. It is never too late and we hope that the latest initiative to form a powerful task force to implement a vision specific to hardware does achieve tangible results.