The Government of India has decided to extend the lockdown till 3rd May 2020, in a measure aimed at controlling the rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. It has also issued guidelines to allow IT and ITeS companies to function smoothly in order to provide some relief to these firms, and help the Indian economy to pick up pace once again. Including IT hardware manufacturing and IT repairs during the next phase of lockdown.
In such a situation, IT industry leaders have shared their views on the impact that the easing of restrictions will have and the additional steps the government would need to take to boost the economy during this time of crisis.
Nitin Kunkolienker, President-MAIT
MAIT would like to thank the Government of India for allowing IT hardware manufacturing to continue as per MHA advisory. This move was the need of the hour as all digital and communication highways are built using electronic and ICT products; this was extremely essential as all utilities need these products otherwise imports would have catered to this pent up demand for ICT products estimated at 2.5 Bn USD per month. MAIT had been urging the government to include manufacturing, sales, and servicing of ICT products, including mobile phones in essential services at a time when reliance on such products and services has increased due to the lockdown. We appreciate that the industry’s voice was heard and we thank the government on inclusion of the same.
Bhavin Turakhia, Founder & CEO, Flock and CEO & Co-founder, Zeta
Today, India’s startup sector is experiencing tough times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is seen disrupting the progress and future potential of this highly promising sector. With startups working on a limited cashflow, we believe the government should support them in these testing times. One measure that the government stated it was considering was the suspension of Section 7, 9 and 10 of the IBC [Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code] for a period of six months if the lockdown extends beyond 30th April. If implemented, this will surely bring some relief to many young startups and help them sustain their business. Other measures which should be considered include the easing of compliance and filing guidelines for startups by eradicating the current penal provisions, while offering financial tools to help them overcome this eventuality. With COVID-19 cases increasing by the day, and reports coming in that the government might extend the lockdown by a couple of weeks, this is likely to further impact the economy with Indian entrepreneurs bearing the brunt of this uncertainty. We are confident that the government will take all of this into account and consider taking further steps to ensure the startup ecosystem is able to tide over this crisis.
Parag Naik, Co-Founder and CEO, Saankhya Labs
The very first priority should be to ramp up investments in the telecom and electronic equipment industry. We should not just look at investments from MNCs, however the government should focus on making policies that encourage local SMEs and MSMEs to ramp up investments. This can be done by incentivizing these companies to build a local ecosystem. Instead of spending money on loss making PSUs, the government can divert those funds towards supporting next-gen Indian companies which have the capability to take on the world. While ‘Make in India’ is a good initiative, it should be ramped up to focus more on the electronics industry. The government should offer more sops to Indian manufacturers to set up and scale up facilities. Apart from the setting up of factories and manufacturing units, the need of the hour is to invest in innovation. Countries like China and US dominate the market because they have a large bank of IPs. If India has to compete on the global scale, we have to ramp up domestic innovation. We have a great demographic dividend and we can certainly use it to innovate and build an IPR regime.
Neelesh Kripalani, Senior Vice President and Head, Center of Excellence (CoE) at Clover Infotech
The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected almost every country in the world and India is no exception. To control the spread, the Indian government has imposed a mandatory countrywide lockdown. It will definitely impact businesses. As per the Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency (ICRA), the Indian economy is likely to witness a sharp contraction of 4.5 percent (de-growth) during Q4 FY20 and is expected to recover gradually, to post a GDP growth of just 2 percent in FY21.
This lockdown has brought in the fundamental shift in the mindset of companies with placing more focus on digitally transforming the workplace and building ‘Virtual Workplace’ culture. Due to the social distancing and lockdown being witnessed in almost all countries of the world, the demand for moving business-critical workload to the cloud is on the rise. Workloads on the cloud can be easily accessed and managed across the organization. This gives employees the flexibility to work from anywhere, anytime.
This is an apt time for businesses to move their application and the underlying infrastructure to the cloud and reap the benefits of increased speed, efficiency and agility. This gives businesses the assurance that their core application and operations are functioning seamlessly. It also increases the cohesiveness among various functions within organizations. I believe it is a great step by the government to extend the lockdown to control the Coronavirus (COVID-19). I am sure the government, the health professionals and administration are doing a great job to contain the spread and we must adhere to the government’s mandate in terms of extension if any.
Arun Gupta, Founder and CEO, MoMAGIC Technologies
Government has taken the right step in partially allowing economic activity as it will somewhat help in mitigating the economic hardships which are expected in the coming months. Allowing IT companies to operate with 50% staff after following all the guidelines will help companies like ours, apart from major technology behemoths to ensure work is not hampered. IT sector is an integral part of services industry in India and brings in valuable foreign exchange to the country as well as supports millions of employees. We expect government to further ease the lockdown in May provided the COVID-19 infection spread is controlled and mitigated.