Vaishnaw urges states to tap opportunities in electronics manufacturing

IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday urged states to take a serious look at huge opportunities in the electronics manufacturing space
Railways subsiding train travel by 55%, spent Rs 62,000 crore last year: Minister
Railways subsiding train travel by 55%, spent Rs 62,000 crore last year: Minister

New Delhi: IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday urged states to take a serious look at huge opportunities in the electronics manufacturing space, where India has proven its mettle as an "important trusted partner" for the world.

He also said that having dedicated zones in industrial corridors for electronics manufacturing would yield rich benefits, including driving massive job creation in the sector.

Mentioning India's success in electronics manufacturing, and citing examples of how production lines of, say iPhone, spur employment opportunities, the Minister exhorted states to move swiftly to tap the "great opportunities" presenting themselves in the sector.

Speaking at the first meeting of the Apex Monitoring Authority for the National Industrial Corridor Development Programme, Vaishnaw, who is also Minister for Communications, proposed that a working group between Commerce and Industry Ministry and the Telecom Department be formed.

According to him, such a working group will help in addressing crucial aspects such as optical fibre ducts and space for 5G telecom towers in a "scientific and methodical way" to ensure robust connectivity in these industrial zones or nodes.

"We have a great opportunity as India is being seen as a very important trusted partner and the success of electronics manufacturing in last eight years has been watched and experienced by the world … from practically nowhere, we have reached USD 76 billion industry in electronics manufacturing today, and this is having a double-digit growth," he said.

Vaishnaw also urged state governments to take a serious look at opportunities which are coming, saying "if we can have dedicated nodes in these industrial corridors for electronics manufacturing, that will also be a great opportunity."

The resultant benefits would not only be in terms of the scale of production but even in job creation.

"It is highly employment-intensive. One line of iPhone normally provides employment to about 5,000 people. That is a huge number … So even if we can shift 10-15 lines in a coming couple of years, we will have a huge employment generation in this sector," he said.

He urged chief ministers and ministers of various states to take a "serious look" at all the opportunities in electronics manufacturing, both from the production as well as employment generation standpoint.

The minister observed that optical fibre connectivity will be an important part of the entire planning exercise, and advised that the provision of ducts alongside the roads in these zones would eliminate the need for unnecessary digging at a later stage.

"So I request, where we are constructing roads in the industrial zones or in the nodes, please provide ducts along the roads, and we can have coordination between the Department of Telecom and Commerce and Industry Ministry," he said.

So, wherever the roads are being built, the ducts can be built right in advance so fibre connectivity does not require further digging whenever the projects are finally taken to logical conclusion, he said.

According to him, the advent of 5G would necessitate the need for more telecom towers, almost 7-8 times that of 4G.

"Please provide more space for telecom towers. Maybe, if we can have a working group of Commerce and Industry Ministry and the Telecom Department, so points of optical fibre cable and telecom towers can be addressed in a more scientific and methodical way," he said.

The minister also asserted that data centres, especially edge computing data centres, will play a critical role in the future manufacturing for 'Industry 4.0'.

"So I request, plan out for data centres also, like for any other infrastructure. Keep sufficient space and double or triple redundancy power connection for the data centres," he added.

Vaishnaw, who also holds a railways portfolio, said that rail connectivity has to be an integral part of the planning of all the nodes.

"My request would be that whatever land acquisition process is currently being followed, keep the rail ministry well informed at this point itself so that the ministry can also plan the railway corridors according to that," he said.

He informed that a new generation of regional rail is being developed which will have "very" fast acceleration.

"It is being designed now and getting manufactured in coming next few months … Next year April, that train will be ready. So keep that as part of your planning exercise," he said, adding that by the end of next year, "we will also have our first hydrogen train designed in India."

The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Suman Bery, chief ministers of different states, including Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Karnataka, besides state industries ministers and senior officials.

(With PTI inputs)

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