We need to start indigenizing fast to achieve Atmanirbharta in electronics. India has a target of $400 billion electronic production by 2025, as per the National Policy on Electronics (NPE) 2019. For the growth of sustainable economics, we need to gradually move from just manufacturing electronics goods for global brands to creating Indian Designed products and Indian Brands.
The pandemic forced companies to rework plans and made us a start-up nation. We are now the third largest start-up nation in the world followed by the US and China. Almost all companies pivoted towards digital, to scale up and succeed. In contactless times, it was the only way to maintain contact, for work or for social engagements. This digital technology intensity is now seeping into all important sectors of economy and electronics holds huge potential for the MSME sector.
MSMEs can become the bulwark of growth of Indian Electronics Products and Indian Brands. We have nearly 6.3 crore MSMEs, and they contribute around 30% towards GDP through domestic and international trade. Electronics Products Design and Manufacturing has a ripple effect in the economy leads to job creation in several other allied sectors as well, creating demand for skills manpower, components, transportation, storage, repair and recycle.
To compete with the established global brands, in addition to innovative technology, the look, feel and user experience of our homegrown electronics products must be of global quality. It is well proven in the technology world that the customer prefers to buy a well designed and engineered products. One other feature which is very important in India is to make products repairable and upgradable with the possibility of being refurbished. Right from the design stage, these products must have innovative technology, an attractive and user-friendly design and the repairability/upgradability features to create unique space for themselves in a competitive global market. This way, the products will have longer life, create less e-waste and Components of old products can be harvested to use of in other products. For that we need MSME’s to think all these aspects from the design conception itself.
As an example, tablets have become a very good tool for imparting online education during the pandemic. But if you look at the global products in this space the products are very difficult to open, leave aside repair and upgrade. If an affordable tablet is provided to the student with repair and upgrade features it can serve his need for 5 years rather than typical life-cycle of 3 years and the same device can become gateway for digital inclusion for the whole family.
Moreover, repairing and servicing goods is part of India’s culture and creates huge employment, as we tend to not easily discard objects once they malfunction but try to repair them. Lady of the house will always prefer to repair and old mixer rather than throwing and buying a new one. We have a thriving desi repairing network. At any corner of the country, it’s easy to find a repair electric goods or mechanic to fix a car that has stopped working in the middle of the road, or mend any malfunctioning household item. If Indian MSME’scan make products which are repairable/upgradable and make repair sector more organized the country and society can reap huge benefits.
MSMEs thus have a huge opportunity in both creating innovative products with repair/upgrade features and also create businesses which can take-up repair/upgrade in an organized way. Such designed and manufactured in India products that can be repaired and get into product circularity by refurbishment will be a winning situation for all—saving energy, saving resources, reducing e-waste and uplifting societies. To become a $5 trillion economy and a global economic powerhouse by 2025, it is important to lift the local and small businesses. The repair economy is worth $100 billion. MSMEs can easily capitalize on this space, and build the country’s electronic ecosystem.
(The writer is CEO, EPIC Foundation & President, VLSI Society of India)