Chander Prakash Gurnani is the CEO & Managing Director of Tech Mahindra. He has been chosen as the Ernst and Young ‘Entrepreneur of the Year [Manager]’, CNBC Asia’s ‘India Business Leader of the Year’ and Dataquest ‘IT person of the Year’
The last decade has been an eventful one for the Indian IT sector and has helped elevate India’s position globally. The ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ mission launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi poses an opportunity to build resilience in the Indian economy. As the country battles through the worst economic crisis1 owing to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to focus on avenues where India has a significant stronghold. Indian IT sector is going to be the core to the future of Indian economy in the next decade and it is therefore essential that the government helps India Inc in pushing forward the IT agenda.
The number of internet users in India is expected to grow from 700 million in 2020 to 974 million by 2025. The pandemic has acted as a catalyst in accelerating the digital push, for consumers and businesses alike. But if we are to reach the global levels of data and build use cases basis the digital adoption then we need major investments in data infrastructure be it fiber networks or rolling out 5G. PM Modi’s ‘Digital India’ programme will receive a major push with 5G and India’s homegrown technical expertise could play a key role in realizing 5G – ‘Make in India, Built for the world’ dream!
Under Pradhan Mantri Grameen Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (PMGDISHA)2, close to 2.9 crore beneficiaries have received digital literacy trainings. Such initiatives will help in building a more ‘inclusive’ Digital India which enables every citizen to be a part of India’s digital journey but even after that there is a huge skill gap in India and for India to encash the demographic dividend there needs to be more of public private partnership in the area of learning and development. NASSCOM’s future skills initiative is a step in this direction and we need more such initiatives to help bring in the right kind of skill to workplace.
The government has identified IT as one of 12 champion service sectors and has setup a Rs 5,000 crore (US$ 745.82 million) fund for realizing the potential of these champion service sectors there is also a situation where it is phasing out income tax holiday benefits for SEZ units and it can have serious ramifications on the industry that is already being challenged on cost-advantage by countries such as Philippines, Indonesia, etc, which are having a cost advantage, as well as new age skill sets.
The role of entrepreneurs in driving the economic growth of the country is indispensable and it is essential to provide a business-friendly environment. The ‘Startup India’ programme was launched in 2016 with the motive to build an entrepreneurial culture in the country. Close to 50+ startup schemes to support Indian startups, incubators, SMEs, MSMEs, accelerators, etc. have been launched under the initiative. Major thrust was laid on minimizing the complexities involved in starting a business, protecting minority investors, dealing with construction permits, and other important areas related to business regulation. The elimination of multiple indirect taxes leading to the implementation of ‘Goods & Services Tax (GST)’4 was a huge transformational reform. These sustained business reforms helped India attain the 63rd position (out of 190 nations) in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2020 report5. But there is a lack of clarity on the criteria and approval requirements that need to be satisfied for availing benefits. Also, startups continue to face scrutiny from the several authorities with regards to angel tax which impends their business.
One thing that has worked against India Inc when it comes to technology is that it does not invest in R&D and has very little to show for in its product and IP narrative and India needs more patents to bridge the tech gap with USA and China. India spends under a percent of its GDP on R&D compared to this US and Japan spend close to 3% and the long term advantage for any company or country comes from its innovation and government needs to introduce specialized policies to incentivize Innovation.
India’s Digital Economy is growing at a phenomenal pace and favorable Government policies & on-going social-political tensions with China will definitely catalyze in building a truly ‘self-reliant India’!
My congratulations to the prime minister for turning 70 and under your able guidance we will only growth from strength to strength.