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PM, Industry Brainstorm On Ways To Revive Growth

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has met with representatives of electronic manufacturers, startups and the software industry and sought inputs on how to reverse the slowdown in the economy, boost exports and on ways to develop the 5G ecosystem, people familiar with the matter said.

“The PM asked the representatives to freely share (details of) all obstacles, be it policies and even officers who are creating roadblocks, and said that solutions need to be found,” one of the people privy to the three-hour meeting held on Saturday told ET.

India’s economic growth slumped to a six-year low of 4.5% in the July-September quarter and many experts now expect the fiscal 2020 growth to be below 5%.

Recently, the International Monetary Fund said that India was in the midst of a significant economic slowdown and called for urgent steps to reverse it while continuing with credible fiscal consolidation.

Representatives of Samsung, Apple, Bosch, domestic handset maker Lava and industry organisation Indian Cellular Operators of India (ICEA) sought incentives to make manufacturing in India as competitive as China and Vietnam. Those from the Indian startup ecosystem said lack of funding from Indian banks was a major problem, which was causing dilution of equity as they were forced to raise money by selling stakes.

“The PM was very clear that India needed to become a manufacturing and export hub for electronics … making India forex positive is high on the PM’s list,” one of the people who attended the meeting told ET.

The industry reiterated that time was running out and that the government must immediately address the competitive disadvantages that electronic and smartphone manufacturers face here vis-a-viz China and Vietnam to make India a manufacturing and export hub.

The government is already considering sweetening the Merchandise Export from India Scheme to make India attractive for large smartphone manufacturers.

Another person said the PM was particularly keen on knowing how to facilitate the startup ecosystem and everyone’s opinion on firth generation technology.

The government has yet to decide when to start 5G trials in the country. India also has to make a decision on Chinabased Huawei, with the US raising security concerns over the telecom equipment maker’s alleged proximity to the Chinese government.

New Delhi has said that it would allow Huawei to participate in the 5G trials, but has not decided yet on allowing it to deploy equipment commercially.

Tata Consultancy Services chief executive Rajesh Gopinath, Intel India general manager Nivruti Rai, Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani, Practo founder Shashank ND, IT industry veteran TV Mohandas Pai and Indian Angel Network chairman Saurabh Srivastava were also among those present in the meeting.

Some of the IT industry representatives brought to the PM’s notice that government contracts worth more than Rs 2,000 crore were stuck, and sought help on the matter, the first person said.

Deploying 5G Tech

The PM also focussed on the development of 5G technology and artificial intelligence, with some industry captains explaining how China had been making rapid strides in these areas.

“We spoke about how the Chinese had stolen the march in 5G already and how cutting-edge work in AI was happening there, even in comparison to the work happening in the US,” another person who attended the meeting told ET.

“We pitched for the Indian government to foster R&D in the next-generation technology in our country as we aspire to become the next global superpower,” this person added.―Newsfeed

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