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Beyond Boycott China, India's Atmanirbhar Dream Rests On Smart Reforms Driving Domestic Production

Harking back to the British era, when India’s nationalist movement called for a boycott on English goods, it seems like we are heading back to the past. Amidst the backdrop of the violent face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh’s Galwan valley, which saw the death of 20 Indian soldiers, calls for Boycotting China have only grown louder. But can we really afford to boycott China? And when we talk about boycotting China, do we mean to boycott Chinese goods, or snap entire bilateral ties with the country?

What about our unicorns?

The top startups in India, which include names such as Paytm, Zomato, Swiggy, Udaan, BigBasket, LensKart, CarDekho, and many others, count Chinese investors among their largest backers. In fact, according to reports, Chinese investors have pumped in $3.9 billion in 2019, up from $2 billion in 2018. In the process, they have surpassed USA to emerge as the biggest backers of the country’s digital economy. Not just that, a think tank named Gateway House had earlier this year reported that Chinese technology investors have put in an estimated $4 billion into Indian startups. According to the same report, 18 of India’s 30 unicorns are now Chinese-funded. Apart from Paytm, Ola, BigBasket, some of the other Indian tech companies that have Chinese investors include Byju’s, MakeMyTrip, Zomato and Swiggy.

If we decided to snap ties with China, what happens to these investments? And if the Chinese investors were to withdraw their money from these firms, who would replace this funding? Not just that, these startups also employ a big chunk of India’s population. What happens to them?

The import-export conundrum

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), comprising of almost 60 million merchants across India has recently launched a ‘Indian Goods – Our Pride’ campaign. The idea behind this is to boycott Chinese products and escalate the Make in India slogan. In the process, CAIT finalized a list of 500 broad categories and 3,000 products that can be made in India by Indians. Their aim is that by December 2021, imports of Chinese products worth $13 billion will be substituted by local ones.

However, this $13 billion constitutes less than a fifth of our total imports from China, which added up to roughly $70 billion in 2018-19.

Here’s a look at some key import-export data for Indian and China in the period 2018-19, from the Export-Import Data Bank –

Export- Rs. 1.17 lakh crore. This is what India earned from China, which constituted 5.08% export share in India’s total exports.

On the other hand, Import – Rs. 4.92 lakh crore. This is what China earns from India, and it constitutes 13.69% import share in India’s total imports.

The total trade between the country adds up to Rs. 6.09 lakh crore, with trade balance with China adding up to Rs. (negative) 3.74 lakh crore, which means import is higher than export.

How then do we become ‘Atma-Nirbhar’? There seems to be no way that we can completely rid ourselves of imports from China. Not to forget the huge cross-border investment inflows between the countries.

How do we Make in India?

India imports not just consumer goods from China, but also industrial goods that are crucial for key manufacturing sectors. Moreover, more than 100 Chinese firms have a presence in India. Chinese state-owned companies have bagged huge projects here. Some of these include Sinosteel, Shougang International, Baoshan Iron & Steel, Sany Heavy Industry, Chongqing Lifan Industry, China Dongfang International, and Sino Hydro Corporation. In telecom especially, three Chinese firms namely Xiaomi, Vivo and OPPO have a 50% share of the mobile handset market. China sells us some very crucial machinery that adds to domestic manufacturing and exports.

For example, in the auto components segment, that has a market size of Rs. 43.1 lakh crore, the share of Chinese products is 26% (that’s a quarter!). The possibility of substitution is tough too, as alternatives domestically or globally are currently hard to find. Or take the case of solar power, a key pursuit of India in pushing renewable energy to the fore. Did you know that the share of Chinese products in this market is a whopping 90%? And no, there is no substitution either, since domestic manufacturing is weak and other options are much more expensive. Similarly, the share of China in steel products is close to 20%, while its share in pharma is 60%!

What is the way to an atma-nirbhar country, then?

Knee-jerk reaction is definitely not the answer; the need of the hour is to align Chinese companies with existing policies of the government, such as Make in India. We shouldn’t kick them out, but rather align more and more companies similarly. This will ensure that Chinese companies continue to set up bigger bases in our country. The other crucial requirement is the need for a more transparent and proactive bureaucracy, which can gradually cut our dependence on China. This can only be done in a reform-oriented manner. So, what if China sells us crucial machinery? We can start replacing them gradually over the next 5-10 years.

In fact, according to some estimates, a third of Chinese imports constitute low-tech goods that were either made earlier by Indians, or are still being made but in smaller quantities. If government policies push for the resurgence of local companies to build these again, it can not only reduce our dependency on the Chinese, but also provide a much-needed fillip for the battered MSME segment. Following which, the overall manufacturing sector will also get a boost, and fulfill the Make in India slogan. We need a steady motivation drive and robust policy measures to help smaller and bigger Indian firms to grow local sales and make Indians competitive, and ultimately more self-reliant.

Pranshu Sikka is the CEO and Founder of The Pivotals, India’s first Business Worries Outsourcing firm with expertise in stakeholder engagement. He has been a strategic communication consultant with over a decade of experience. (The opinions expressed here are personal)


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Apple's Taiwan suppliers, Samsung apply for India's local smartphone scheme

Apple's Taiwan suppliers, Samsung apply for India's local smartphone scheme

Apple Inc’s Taiwan contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron Corp and Pegatron Corp have applied for India’s $6.5 billion scheme to boost local smartphone manufacturing, the country’s tech minister said on Saturday.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 2:08 PM IST

NEW DELHI Apple Inc’s Taiwan contract manufacturers Foxconn, Wistron Corp and Pegatron Corp have applied for India’s $6.5 billion scheme to boost local smartphone manufacturing, the country’s tech minister said on Saturday.

South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has also applied for the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme, technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a news conference.

The plan offers companies cash incentives on additional sales of devices made locally over five years, with 2019-2020 as the base year.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor



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Ex-Union Minister Sukh Ram Narrates the Story Behind India's First Mobile Phone Call

Ex-Union Minister, Sukh Ram, remembers how he beat all disbelief to bring mobile technology to India. On July 31, 1995, India reached a historic milestone by making the first ever mobile phone call – between erstwhile Union Telecom Minister, Sukh Ram, and Chief Minister of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu. The call was made on Nokia phones, allegedly the Nokia rinGo, on the first mobile telecom network, Modi Telstra.

As the 93-year-old ex-minister celebrated his birthday on July 27, he retraced the memories of that historic moment during his 3 km walk at Paddal Ground in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh.

On a trip to Japan as Cabinet Minister for Telecommunications, Sukh Ram saw his chauffeur carrying a mobile phone in his pocket. This got him thinking that if Japan could have the technology, why couldn’t India. He also credits former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who wanted computers and telephones to become mainstream in India.

Sukh Ram discussed his vision with the late founder of Reliance Industries, Dhirubhai Ambani, who had come to meet him, and said that the mobile telephony industry will one day be highly profitable. Significantly, the Ambani family today oversees Reliance Jio, the biggest mobile telecom operator in India – and also one of the biggest internet companies in the country.

One thing Sukh Ram says that he never anticipated back then was how a camera can be attached to the mobile phone – something he now sees everyone having access to. In early ‘90s, Sukh Ram notes that there was considerable restraint to introducing such technologies, since there was still a lot of reservation about privatisation of many sectors of the Indian economy.

Sukh Ram remembers that while addressing a public meeting, he had told the audience that one day, they will all have a mobile phone in their pockets. His opinion was met with scepticism – many pointed out that there are not enough landline phones at homes, and having mobile phones sounded like a farfetched idea.

Today, Sukh Ram believes that there is plenty of room for localising state services, so as to bring more people to the state itself. His grandson and Congress party leader Ashary Sharma says, “He feels that Himachal Pradesh, with high speed internet, cheap labour, cheap land availability, cheap electricity and above all second highest literacy rate, data centres or call centres should come to the state so as to stop youth from going out of the state, and the young can work close to their homes.”

Today, Sukh Ram notes his happiness at how consumer-friendly mobile phone technologies have become. He believes that today’s ecosystem is in effect a result of far-reaching efforts taken decades ago to connect the farthest corners of India. Even in most remote areas, such as the dangerous terrain of Pangi in Himachal Pradesh, telephone exchanges were dropped with help of helicopters in those times, to usher in the mobile phone revolution.


Categories
Tech

DoT Suggests No Chinese Co-Involvement in India's 5G Trial; Telcos Expect Delay, Cost Hike

The department of telecommunications (DoT), under oversight from the government of India, has reportedly recommended that Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE be kept out of setting up 5G infrastructure in India. According to CNBC-TV18, sources with knowledge of the matter at DoT has stated that a panel set up by the body has cited cyber security as the key reason for keeping Chinese players out of India’s 5G bid. However, officials within telecom companies reportedly said that no official communication has been made by DoT yet, on either the timeline of 5G spectrum auction in India, or whether Chinese equipment providers will be allowed to play a part in India.

According to sources, the DoT panel’s move stands in line with a newly instated government policy that seeks to restrict the participation of Chinese companies in government tenders. At the centre of this restriction is the Indian government’s unwillingness to allow remote access to critical network infrastructure to companies based in China, and as such, are suspected of having ties to the Chinese government. The sources also stated that DoT’s move is in line with India’s data localisation policy, in which case the government is prioritising Indian equipment players over their Chinese counterparts.

Government sources have claimed that both Huawei and ZTE, the two firms that are majorly under fire across the world in terms of 5G deployment, had submitted applications to participate in setting up 5G communications infrastructure in India. If the DoT panel’s recommendation is seen through, officials with telecom operators have suggested that the equipment procurement cost may go up by almost 25 percent, and may also cause a delay in the date of 5G trials.

The setback in India’s 5G trials, the sources have claimed, may lead to a further delay of up to nine months in the 5G spectrum auction. According to sources, India’s 5G auctions should ideally happen by end-2020, in order to meet a tentative deadline of 2021 for commercial launch. This will see India keep pace with other nations as well.


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Tech

Increase in AI Adoption by One Unit Will Boost India's GDP by 2.5 Percent: Report

One unit increase in Artificial Intelligence (AI) intensity by Indian firms can result in a 2.5 per cent increase in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the immediate term, a study by Google, IT industry body Nasscom and think tank ICRIER revealed on Monday. AI intensity is measured as the ratio of AI to total sales of the firm, said the report titled “Implications of AI on the Indian Economy”.

In the absence of a direct measure of AI at the firm level, the model uses investments in software, databases and computer machinery as a proxy for AI. “This is a seminal report, estimating a 2.5 per cnet growth in India’s GDP if India adopts AI in a sustained way,” Sanjay Gupta, Country Head and Vice President, Google India, said in a statement.

The research, however, found that the current rate of growth in AI investments is unlikely to increase the levels of AI intensity adequately. In order to trigger a positive growth shock, AI intensities should be sharply increased, it added. “India is in the midst of a once-in-a-generation disruption driven by AI. AI has become a strategic lever for economic growth across nations and will continue to be one of the most crucial technologies of the future,” said Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, in a special address. “By integrating new technologies like AI and ML into various sectors, we can radically leapfrog and catch up with advanced economies.”

The suggested policy measures required to support AI’s wider adoption in India include identifying a nodal agency for the development and diffusion of AI; building collaborative frameworks for engagement between governments, industry and academia; building an all-encompassing data strategy for India; addressing India’s skill gap in AI; and promoting the development of AI safety standards.

“In hopes to accelerate growth and pave a path towards innovation, AI has a definite role to play in empowering industries, infrastructure and the society at large,” said Debjani Ghosh, President, Nasscom. “With sheer enthusiasm, we are now fostering investments in the new generation of digital natives to elevate industry growth trajectory and further boost productivity levels.”


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Tech

Amazon India's Prime Day Sale Scheduled for August 6 & 7: Here's What to Expect and Other Details

Representative image. (Picture Source: Reuters)

Representative image. (Picture Source: Reuters)

Last year, the sales holiday was conducted in mid-July, but the Covid-19 crisis this year has disrupted its schedule, Amazon said.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: July 21, 2020, 2:04 PM IST

E-commerce giant Amazon has confirmed that it will run its Prime Day annual shopping festival in India on August 6-7, a bit later than usually. Last year, the sales holiday was conducted in mid-July, but the pandemic this year has disrupted its schedule as the company said that the rollout of the global event for other participating markets will take place even later.

According to a report in TechCrunch on Tuesday, this will be the first time that Prime Day will not run on the same day globally. The Prime Day dates for other participating markets are still not known. The event in India which promises deals and savings, including those on entertainment offerings, will start on August 6 midnight and run until August 7.

“Over the last five years, Prime Day has become a special celebration and time for Prime members to shop incredible deals for themselves and for friends and family — and it’s something we look forward to every year,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement.

“This year we’ll be holding Prime Day later than usual, while ensuring the safety of our employees and supporting our customers and selling partners. “We are excited Prime members in India will see savings on August 6-7, and that members all around the world will experience Prime Day later this year. We look forward to sharing more details soon,” the spokesperson added.


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Tech

RIL AGM Hosted on JioMeet, India's Very Own Cloud Video Conferencing App






Jul 18, 2020 04:09 PM IST
iVideos iVideos

JioMeet is India’s most-secure and cost-effective video conferencing platform. It is designed to address real life scenarios and solve some of the key challenges of our time said Isha Ambani at RIL AGM . Jio’s education platform, Embibe, will address the shortage of quality teachers in India. It is built on three foundational blocks: Unprecedented Personalisation, Incredible Content and Teacher Empowerment. And this will be delivered through JioMeet.

 

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Tech

Jio Platforms Key Announcements: Google-Jio's Affordable Smartphone, Jio 5G India's 1st 5G Network and More


Jio Platforms has played a pivotal role in achieving this target. The company’s technology and telecom platform is one of the biggest entities in India’s technology sphere, and is leading the nation’s goal of technology adoption and digital transformation. Jio Platforms has attracted an incredible series of investments – with 13 investments in less than three months from companies and investment firms such as Facebook, Silver Lake, Vista Partners, PIF, Intel Capital and more. The company has attracted a total investment of Rs 1,18,318.45 crore by selling 25.24 percent of its stake to these investors, hence showing its versatility and business power.

Reliance Jio began by transforming India’s mobile telephony landscape, bringing incredibly affordable 4G data plans along with complimentary calling, messaging and entertainment content offers. It single-handedly shaped the mobile telecom industry into what it is today, with strong offerings that significantly brought down the amount of money that users paid previously for data. It then expanded its services into a wide range of areas, with JioFiber offering high speed fiber broadband services pan-India at speeds of up to 1Gbps and highly competitive prices. JioFiber also brought DTH TV subscriptions to people’s homes, and its robust partnership content offerings further showed its customer-first commitment.

Going forward, it will be exciting to see the road ahead for Jio Platforms, and its plans to further shake up India’s technology industry.

News18.com is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited that also owns Reliance Jio.

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Tech

JioMeet Leads India's Video Conferencing Challenge with Made in India App

Jio Platforms, the holding platform for Reliance Jio, India’s largest mobile telecom operator, has introduced a pioneering video conferencing service earlier this month with JioMeet. The video conferencing service instantly made headlines for its offering, matching what global players in the video conferencing space are offering, and then offering some more. However, more than JioMeet’s competition with global players, the service has more importantly highlighted India’s proficiency in building a homegrown video conferencing platform – something that the government of India called for in light of privacy concerns.

Paying heed to this call, JioMeet has arrived to meet all the guidelines and build a video conferencing platform that is truly Indian. The JioMeet video calling service has an easy, intuitive interface that has been designed keeping ergonomics in mind, which would help users access the most important features in just a few clicks. JioMeet also allows users to schedule meetings, and also runs as a web application on browsers – something that can be very important if participants wish to join a meeting instantly without downloading the app first. The versatility of the service lies in offering an interface that can be accessed any time, anywhere, and from any device.

Along with offering all the features, JioMeet is a service has been built in India, and hence complies with India’s data storage laws. It stores all user data safely on servers situated in India, hence allaying any fears of personal data loss. This gives users peace of mind, knowing that any of their data shared on the JioMeet platform will be safely stored in airtight spaces. JioMeet also promises encryption for all video conversations on the platform, which makes sure that sensitive, internal company meetings cannot be breached. Being a service made for the people, JioMeet puts heavy emphasis on data security and privacy on its video conferencing service.

All of this comes bundled in a package that is wholly developed in India. With this, Jio Platforms has risen up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vocal for local and ‘atmanirbhar Bharat’ calls in a bid to boost locally developed and promoted services, over international counterparts. Not only is JioMeet a fully Indian service, it also meets the generally lofty standards of quality set by international players. JioMeet has hence offered an app that can truly take a homegrown Indian service to global markets.

Disclaimer:News18.com is part of Network18 Media & Investment Limited which is owned by Reliance Industries Limited that also owns Reliance Jio.


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Online Searches For TikTok and Others Drop Sharply After India's Ban on Chinese-owned Apps: Report

The Indian government’s decision to ban 59 Chinese owned apps has impacted online searches for those apps. A study found that on the June 29, the day the ban was imposed there was a 229 percent increase in the number of searches for Tik Tok and a 255 percent increase in the number of searches for WeChat. On the same day, the percentage increase in the number of times apps like Weibo, Shareit, and UC Browser were 57, 78, and 82 percent, respectively, reveals a study by SEMrush. The following day, there was a sharp fall in the number of times each app was searched.

On June 30, the percentage increase in the number of times Tik Tok was searched fell to a mere 23 percent. The percentage increase in the number of times the apps like Shareit and UCBrowser were sought fell to 11 and 12 percent, respectively. The study shows that while there was an increase in the number of searches for these three apps, the rate of growth had fallen dramatically. While searches for apps like Tik Tok, Shareit and UCBrower increased at a meagre rate, searches for WeChat and Weibo tanked into negative territory. On June 30, searches for WeChat and Weibo fell to negative 6 and negative 7 percent indicating fewer people searched for them than did on the previous day.

The study also tracked the sentiment about the banned apps on Twitter. It found that of the 18,185 tweets made on #RIPTikTok, 19 percent were positive, 62 percent were neutral, and 19 percent were negative. Of the 421 tweets on #Weibo, 14 percent were positive, 39 per percent were neutral, and 47 percent were negative. There were 2054 tweets on #Shareit, of which 23 percent were positive, 38 percent were neutral, and 39 percent were negative. On #UCBrowser, there were 2,750 tweets, of which 18 percent were positive, 43 percent were neutral, and 39 percent were negative.

There were 18,353 tweets on #DigitalAirStrike, a Twitter handle that gauges the sentiment about the Indian Government’s decision to ban Chinese apps. 21 percent of the tweets on #DigitalAirStrike were positive, 61 percent were neutral, and 18 percent were negative. After considering the sentiment on Twitter, it becomes clear that the majority of the Indian public either backs the decision made by their Government or has a neutral stance.