About 97% of smartphones sold India Today they are manufactured domestically against 90% imports in 2014, Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technologies Rajeev Chandrasekhar
– said in an exclusive interview with News18.

On Friday, the minister attended the grand opening of the new mobile phone manufacturing plant of Taiwanese company Pegatron in Chengalpattu, south of Chennai. Speaking to News18, he said that state governments should actively participate in central government projects to generate investment and employment in sectors like electronics.

On the government’s Internet for All plan, Chandrasekhar said, “I can assure you on behalf of the Government of India that by 2025-26. Today, 80 crore Indians are online. We will make the Internet open, safe, secure and accountable.”

Edited excerpts:

Do you think India is taking over mobile phone manufacturing after the grand opening of this plant?

It is the largest plant to open since COVID. During Covid everything came to a standstill. This plant is an important symbol of restoring momentum. For electronics in general, India is becoming a very important player in the global value chain.

In 2014, there was no electronics industry at all. Thanks to the efforts of the Prime Minister and his government since 2014, India is the second largest producer of mobile phones in the world. In 2014, 90% of our mobile phones were imported. Today, 97% of the phones used in India are made in India. Also, we export 50,000 crores of latest Apple and Samsung phones to markets all over the world, but the Prime Minister has revised our ambitions.

It wants to reach $300 billion by 2025-26, and the journey is now focused on that. We want to see more and more investment.

What we see today is the tip of the iceberg. There will be much more investment. In Tamil Nadu alone, five plants worth Rs 6,500 crore have come under Production Incentive Scheme (PLI), EMC and SPEC. And 40,000 to 45,000 direct jobs are created. This is an opportunity for India to become a global leader in electronics, which we have not focused on for decades.

You said this is only the tip of the iceberg. What other similar projects are planned?
The main thing is that we have achieved a reasonable scale and size of mobile phone production. You’ll soon see it for laptops, servers, and the computing side of technology. We are focused on becoming a leading player in wearables (smartwatches) and listening devices. There is a lot of work going on in India.

Along with expanding and increasing the categories of electronics, we want to delve into the electronic system. In December 2021, the Prime Minister announced a semiconductor package worth Rs 75,000 crore. You will soon see an announcement about PLI for component manufacturers. The heart and soul of all these products are electronic components. Even today, a lot of it is imported.

We want to create a vibrant ecosystem, a vibrant supply chain in India that will benefit from the large volume of products that will be produced.

Is the South a priority for electronics factories?

The Government of India will create the right enabling environment, the right policies, the right financial incentives and will work with the state governments. Some states recognize this possibility and move quickly, others do not. On October 1, we have a meeting of IT ministers from all states where we are trying to make all states aware of the opportunities.

In February 2022, I wrote a letter to all state governments saying that this is a huge opportunity to create jobs and attract investment in their states. Some states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have responded and acted proactively. Those who don’t have a missed opportunity.

How favorable do you think Tamil Nadu is for new investment?

It is not for me to comment. I urge every state government to support this industry. My job is to make it clear to the state governments that this is a huge opportunity for investment, for jobs and for their economy, and to create the conditions so that we don’t go back to the dark days of Tamil Nadu when you had to close the Nokia plant.

They should be avoided. Today’s investment of Rs 6,500 crore and 14,000 jobs could become an investment of Rs 30,000 crore and 3 lakh jobs in Tamil Nadu alone. It will mean millions of investments and jobs for India. I don’t want it to be affected by any bad behavior of the state government. That is why I personally attend all these launches, motivate the company, motivate the investors and urge the state government to create an enabling environment so that based on the success of these investors, other investors will come.

You mentioned semiconductor packages. When it comes to the semiconductor and electronics space, what opportunities lie ahead? Can young people consider this as a career option?

If you look at the faces, they are all young people. If you take the entire technology sector, 48% to 50% of workers are women. The technology sector is about inclusion, providing opportunities for young Indians and for businesses and companies to be globally competitive. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

That is why I call on the state governments to roll out the red carpet and welcome investment so that the local economy of the state benefits and the youth of India get more and more opportunities.

When it comes to weaponizing the internet and the shard network, what is the status of data laws and cyber security laws?

All laws are under development. On behalf of the Government of India, I can assure you that by 2025-2026. Today, 80 crore Indians are online. We will make the Internet open, safe, secure and accountable. The Modi government will ensure that the Internet becomes a place where an elderly person, a youth, a housewife, a teenager or anyone can use the Internet for productive purposes, and we will keep the Internet as safe as possible. Thus, our laws ensure the safety and reliability of the Internet.

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