Home/ Opinion / Columns/  Time for India as a product nation

An enabling ecosystem builds its own momentum. The production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme and a string of reforms in the last decade, and the move away from China towards a safe India, have provided the catalyst needed for electronics growth in the country. The next step is to build our products and get into product ownership to usher in a new era of Make in India products that are 100% repairable and upgradable and support the vision of a robust growth nation catering and supporting a circular economy to the global market as well.

According to the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY), electronics manufacturing in India will balloon to $300 billion in 2026 from $68 billion at present. We must rapidly transform India into a manufacturing hub for new-generation electronics products with minimal dependence on foreign components. To see real change, we need to deepen R&D. Taiwan helped create China as a product nation. There is a need to ally with Taiwan to fix some missing pieces there. What makes us truly unique is that not only do we know how to design hardware, but we also know how to integrate software into hardware.

Let me give examples of some products that will help scale up our product self-resilience, setback-proof our economy, and kick-start job creation for high-end value jobs and blue-collar workers.

There is a growing pressure to transition towards planet positivity. Smart meters that use digital technology enable a two-way flow of electricity and information. Consumers and suppliers can thus be empowered to make informed choices on smart energy use. The global smart meters market is expected to grow from $19.6 billion in 2021 to $30.2 billion by 2026 at a CAGR of 9.0%, and we can seize this opportunity.

Next, the global market for laptops and tablets will be $220 billion per year over the next three years, while in India, the market size is pegged at $7 billion. Nearly 87% of laptops and tablets come from China. We need to change this by increasing localization.

Third, our startups have a huge opportunity in the drone market, especially if they start making the components too. So far, DJI China has been sweeping 90% of the global drone market, which is poised to become a $54 billion market by 2025. With the government enforcing a ban on the import of drones, there’s a huge market for not just the high-end segment like for defence and surveys, but also in the nano drone and micro drone segments used for entertainment, filming and so on.

Similarly, the Indian medical devices industry is growing at 28% each year to reach $50 billion by 2030. The way IIT Kanpur Ventilator Consortium assisted Noccarc Robotics, a young startup, in building affordable, high-quality ventilators, at the peak of the pandemic is a case study of possibilities. The reason we are placed beautifully in medtech is that most of the devices in use have outdated electronics. We need to make connected devices with predictive maintenance and usher in an era of more modern products in the health sector.

In the consumer market, too, we can make an impact. India’s wearables market saw record double-digit growth in the first quarter of 2022, with shipments crossing 13.9 million units. The earwear category accounts for 71.3% of the overall wearables category. Quality manufacturers like BoAT and Noise need to look at components too in this segment, and many more such startups can cater to the local and export markets.

Similarly, in phones, we need to propel growth and see more brands, like Lava and Micromax, in the mid and high segments that are completely Made in India. In space, India’s share in the $360-billion global space economy is 2%. A growing impact in the space sector is needed to address national imperatives and for deepening research.

The prescription to emerge as a product nation will shift the purchase order from China to India, enable greater localization, and make us a global star player in the products space, which is what the world wants.

Ajai Chowdhry is the Chairman of Epic Foundation and Founder, HCL.

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Updated: 17 Oct 2022, 01:43 AM IST
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