There was another panel discussion on Unlocking Manufacturing Growth in India, at the TLF 2020 in New Delhi. It was moderated by Sukanta Dey, Strategic Advisor & Group COO, Infomo Global Pte Ltd.
Dey said that in the early days, the network providers drove the industry. Now, there are many. There are three trends: R&D. Are we spending enough money in internal designing? Where is the Indian telecom IP? Two, deregulation of telecom by 100%. There are many programs and policies in India. We are in the middle of Industry 4.0 now. All of this will be delivered by the telecom infrastructure.
Ajey Mehta, VP, HMD Global (India & APAC), said that mobile devices were literally used as bricks in the past. This is a very good time for India to manufacture. The mobile device ecosystem has developed very well in China. We can take a leap out of those. Right now, there is coronavirus going on in China. However, we need to do some things first. We need to open up the market. There should be ease of access. It provides a lot of opportunities to the others. There is also a massive smartphone market in India. We need government support as well. We need to influence MIPS and MEIS policies to help drive exports. We need to step up on exports.
Ankit Agarwal, CEO, Connectivity Solutions, STL, said STL is a very proud Indian company, supplying to over 100 countries. The aim is to make STL become the benchmark. We are working with 8 out of 10 operators across Asia. We have successfully been granted 300+ patents for our product portfolio. This is just the start. There is a tremendous role for manufacturing in India. The vision is to double our head count. We have invested almost Rs 1200 crores in our plant at Aurangabad. There is a general concern regarding how to provide the incentives around 5-6%. It is a connected ecosystem. In manufacturing, there are lot of imports in telecom. Given our software strength, we can also make that happen. We can create 1-3 million jobs by training our youth.
Josh Foulger, Country Head and MD, Foxconn International Holding, India said that India was already exporting earlier. Developing the supply chain is critical. In mobile phones, we have 7 lakh jobs. The experience in India has been fantastic. Now, we are trying to Make in India 2.0 roll! We are also manufacturing some other products, beyond mobiles. Eg., servers, network equipment, IoT devices, etc., can all be made here.
NK Goyal, President and Chairman Emertius, TEMA said that we do have a success story in mobile manufacturing. However, we import over 60% from China. Is that the way to move forward? Next, what is Make in India? There is no definition. Next, comes technology. We still have to get the benefits of 4G, rather than look at 5G. Last, about IPRs. There are exceptional companies like STL. But, do we have access to the other markets? We need to build on all of this.
Pankaj Mohindroo, Chairman, ICEA noted that there are some illusions regarding India. India is a small market, say, 5.4% of the global market. It is not a big market for manufacturing products. The only way to grow is to get a portion of the global market. Now, we are 3.2% of the world economy. We are 1/5th of China right now.
The next illusion: what is the China model? What is the import of electronics into China? It is $400 billion. They export over $600 billion. The only way to grow is to become large exporters. We have only achieved growth in software, pharma and motorbikes. The two pillars of growth are having the global value chains and the Indian champion companies. India has grown about 900% by today. Our exports have grown a lot, by 1300%. We are still 1.6% of the world’s exports. We have acquired some bragging rights, but we need to be cautious about all of this.
By 2025, we are projected to grow a lot. India should focus on products and use cheap labour. We have a chance to grow. We need to focus on the two pillars. The Indian companies could not really match the investment made by the Chinese companies.
Ravi Shankar Rai, CEO and MD, Savitri Group, said that the vision should be to create some employment opportunity for the masses. We have an opportunity to become a manufacturing hub. We have competition from the Philippines, Malaysia, etc. We need to evaluate what is required to be successful in manufacturing. We have good, economical manpower to make inroads. We also have a lot of challenges. These changes have created problems in our society. We need to convert the human resource into assets. Any industry won’t treat HR as an asset. We have to create an environment for that.
Financial health of telcos
In the next panel discussion, Rx for Financial Health of Telcos, Akhil Gupta, Vice-Chairman, Bharti Enterprises & Executive Chairman, Bharti Infratel, said that we are in a financial mess today. The telecom industry is struggling. It is about time the government took a note of this. There is Rs. 50,000 crores in the USO fund.
TV Ramachandran, President, Broadband India Forum, said that what is needed today is to ensure that no single entity goes out of business. We must thank the Supreme Court. The onus is on all of us. There are so many ramifications. Its a very big crisis. but not uncurable. It was done back in 1999, and can be done again. Customers, government and the industry – everyone also needs to do their bit. We need oxygen to need some space.
First, we need have an immediate oxygen for payments. 15 years would not cure the problem. Spectrum was paid for in high prices. The licence and spectrum fee should cover 1%. Spectrum auction should be there.
Rajan Mathews, DG, COAI, added that what we are hearing from the government is that they want to maintain a three-player private market. In USA, there was T-Mobile and Deutsche Telecom. Globally, the three-player market is optimal. The unexpected AGR put the industry in a problem. There’s no going back on the quantum. It is time to redefine the AGR. We will also take responsibility for the tariffs.
We need to have a special-purpose vehicle. In the Philippines, 5G spectrum is being given away for free. We should also look at fiberization. We need to look at fresh approaches at how to fund these.