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India says its brains saved the world from the last colosso-crisis – cough, Y2K – proving it can become self-reliant

In tech and everything else needed in a post-COVID-19 economy

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modhi has signalled that the nation intends to become self-reliant in as many industries as possible and other officials have already started saying that includes tech.

Modhi yesterday delivered a coronavirus-related address to the nation that included a big stimulus package and plan to emerge from a post-pandemic economic emergency. The centrepiece of that plan is self-reliance: Modhi called for India to produce more of what it needs and coined the phrase, “be vocal about local,” to help push the idea.

To illustrate that the idea can work Modhi said: “Remember, the Y2K crisis at the beginning of this century. Technology experts from India pulled the world out of that crisis. Today we have the resources, we have the power, and we have the best talent in the world.”

And it also has policies like Make In India, an effort to point out that multinational companies could manufacture for Indian customers in India. Make In India has resulted in the likes of Samsung, Apple and Oppo all making smartphones and other devices in India. India went hard for smartphone-makers and the fact that hundreds of millions of the devices can now be made there every year is now used as a demonstration of the nation’s high-tech manufacturing prowess.

Speaking at a Monday conference on rebooting India’s economy, minister for science and technology, health and family Welfare and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vadhan also touched on the self-reliance theme and suggested that Indian manufacturers and start-ups can deliver whatever the nation – and often the world – needs.

Plenty of challenges lie before India in achieving anything close to tech self-reliance. While its services giants are increasingly developing products, India’s underdeveloped physical infrastructure means large-scale logistics operations and manufacturing remain challenging to undertake.

However India is certainly not wasting the coronavirus crisis, unashamedly suggesting it’s a fine place to diversify if reliance on China has made manufacturers nervous. ®

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