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Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) on Sunday urged the government to classify mobile phones, laptops, tablets and other information and communications technology (ICT) products as essential services during the coronavirus (covid-19) lockdown.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 29 March, the industry body sought the sale of these devices via e-commerce platforms.

The Manufacturers Association of Information Technology (MAIT) had made a similar request to the government in a letter sent to the government on 27 March.

Citing the example of foreign countries including US, ICEA also asked for the service and maintenance of these products to be included in the government’s essential services list during the lockdown period.

The government has included telecom, Internet services, broadcasting and cable services, IT and ITES under essential services right now. The ICEA argued that all of these services “terminate on residential and handheld consumer communications equipment," like mobile phones and laptops.

The electronics industry in India has come to a standstill due to the 21-day country-wide lockdown announced by the PM just under a week ago. Manufacturing has come to a halt since factories are shut down, while retail stores have also been closed to avoid public gatherings. The ICEA noted that it is not asking for these retail stores to be opened at the moment.

Xiaomi and Realme, two of the top five mobile phone sellers in India, postponed launches of their scheduled devices recently. Xiaomi postponed the launch of its flagship-class Mi 10 smartphones, while Realme postponed its new Narzo series device.

Avneet Singh Marwah, CEO of Super Plastronics Private Limited, earlier estimated that the lockdowns would cost the industry approximately 300 crore in the long run. He did, however, note that it’s better to get a hold of the situation by shutting things down temporarily right now, than to continue operations and risk bigger problems in future.

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