Growth of the electrical and electronic industry in the country has been taking place rather unnoticed by many. Although still at a nascent stage and facing several bottlenecks on way to sourcing of inputs, quality assurance, finance and government incentives, the sector has already demonstrated its potential to cater to increasing domestic demand and a good prospect of flourishing. At a meeting organised by the apex Chamber FBCCI last week in the capital, issues pertaining to the bright prospect as well as challenges facing the industry were discussed at some length. Participated among others by the industry people, the meeting while taking note of the successes and accomplishments of the sector, highlighted some core issues that are crucial for giving it the boost it badly needs.
What this sector has achieved in a brief span of barely two decades can be surmised from the simple fact that around 80 per cent of the domestic demand for electrical and electronic appliances and devices is currently met by local manufacturing plants. Although they are not many in number, only a handful in fact, a few of them have excelled to capture a bulk of the home market thanks to their product development and adaptation skills and the trust they have been able to build in terms of consumers' preference. Product concentration is mainly dominated by commonly used electrical and electronic products like televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, fans and scores of other home and office appliances. Clearly, this is no mean achievement in view of the fact that the country was solely dependent on import of these products not long ago. While easing pressure on forex reserve is one aspect of this commendable import substitution, the prospect of earning sizeable foreign exchange also does not seem remote, if the required facilitations are in place. Extensive research and quality control reinforced by state of the art technology seem to be the prime need at the moment. These and other related matters can be well addressed by a comprehensive government policy which, unfortunately, is still not in place. According to sector insiders, there are no data on the myriad products manufactured locally, nor is there any dependable database on domestic requirements. It is here that that the government must be forthcoming in preparing a complete package in consultation with the stakeholders, besides formulating a proactive policy to keep things moving in a desired direction.
When it comes to export, the task is no doubt challenging, but not daunting. To be able to market products abroad, manufacturers must ensure the conformity of their products with the relevant regulatory framework as well as with the national requirements of the countries in question. There is the need to harmonise such requirements for mutual recognition of conformity tests and certifications. Plants planning for export should prepare themselves, keeping in view the market preference and consumer tastes while also meeting the demand in respect of quality and conformity compliance.
Considering the present state of the electrical and electronic industry, it becomes clear that the onus now is largely on the government to make sure that the progress so far achieved should be provided momentum for attaining greater heights.