ICT and ICT4D India
India is recognized as a leader in the global software and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industries. India traditionally expected to be an outsider, has leveled the playing field. India accounts for around 28 per cent of IT and BPO talent among 28 low-cost countries.
The Indian Information Technology- Information Technology-Enabled Services (IT-ITES) industry is the most consistent growth driver for its economy. There is no doubt that this has contributed positively to India’s global competitiveness and a healthy GDP. Service, software exports and BPO are the major players of the sector.
India’s Department of Information Technology is responsible for enhancing infrastructure capabilities, supporting R&D, promoting skills development and coordinating IT strategy. Data from the Government of India’s Department of IT indicates that, “IT/ITES exports have grown to a staggering US$ 46.3 billion in 2008-09, the IT sector currently employing 2.2 million professionals directly and another 8 million people indirectly accounts for over 5% of GDP, a majority of the Fortune 500 and Global 2000 corporations are sourcing IT/ITES from India and it is the premier destination for the global sourcing of IT/ITES accounting for 55% of the global market in offshore IT services and garnering 35% of the ITES/BPO market”.
India has a policy of providing incentives for promoting investment in IT with special schemes for Software Technology Parks (STP) and Special Economic Zones (SEZ). Incentives include tax and duty exemptions. One of the most significant incentives has been the 100 percent exemption from Income Tax of export profits, which it has extended till 31st March 2011.
STPs have been immensely successful in promoting software export, growing the software industry and in employment and business generation. The SEZ scheme is focused on supporting and promoting globally oriented businesses.
Though India is known more for its software/BPO performance, it has taken measures to facilitate the growth of the Electronics Hardware Sector due to increasing internal demand fuelled by the size and high growth rate of the Indian economy. India had over 60 million Internet users, 7.40 million broadband subscribers and 488.40 million mobile subscribers in October, 2009.
ICT Policy Incentives
To develop India’s Electronics Hardware Manufacturing Sector India is applying a combination of policy measures including liberalization of foreign trade policy for Electronics and IT products, simplified customs and excise procedures, bringing down customs duty on specified capital goods and raw materials for electronics hardware to 0% and setting up of Electronics Hardware Technology Parks (EHTP) and Special Economic Zones (SEZ).
Policy initiatives also include Special Incentive Package Scheme (SIPS) to encourage investments for setting up Semiconductor Fabrication and other micro and nanotechnology manufacturing Industries in India, Infrastructure Support, promotion of startups focused on technology and innovation, provision of tax incentives and indentifying and treating Electronics Hardware Manufacturing as a priority sector for the Special Focus Initiatives in India’s Foreign Trade Policy.
Central to India’s strategy in the promotion of investment in ICT is Cyber security. In view of the ever present threats – cyber attacks, identity theft, online fraud – and vulnerabilities that raise risks associated with IT infrastructure, the Indian government setup an Inter Departmental Information Security Task Force (ISTF) with the National Security Council as the focal agency. Recommendations of the ISTF led to the establishment of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), setup of PKI infrastructure to support implementation of Information Technology Act and promote use of Digital Signatures, support of R&D activities, development of Information Security Policy Assurance Framework for the protection of Government cyberspace and critical infrastructure, Information Security Standard ISO 27001 certification adoption, Nationwide Information Security Education and Awareness Programs.
Cyber Security Strategy in India is driven through Public-private partnership addressing awareness, education, technology developments, etc. The strategy also works in conjunction with cyber laws that provide legal recognition to electronic documents. The legal and regulatory framework is established to mitigate, check cyber crimes and support e-filing and e-commerce transactions.
India’s performance appears impressive. Growth has been due to a conducive, merit driven environment, continuous and strategic human capital development, quality leadership, positive policy interventions and enabling infrastructure.