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ET Startup Awards 2022: India a steady ship, trusted partner amid global turmoil

India is a steady ship and a bright spot in a turbulent world, Union ministers said at an elite gathering to celebrate the eighth edition of The Economic Times Startup Awards in Bengaluru on Saturday.

Challenges elsewhere mean vast opportunities for India, they said, adding that the country’s economy will lead the revival of the global economy.

The ET Startup Awards event was headlined by commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal, minister for railways, communications and electronics & information technology Ashwini Vaishnaw and Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai.

The government is making structural changes that will allow India to think big, said Goyal, also minister for food and public distribution and textiles.
“Literally the entire world wants to enter into a free-trade agreement or some sort of economic agreement with India,” he said, citing progress on accords with the UK, the European Union and Canada, which is keen to be the first G7 country to sign a deal.

“The world is looking at the big India opportunity,” Goyal said in an interactive session at the event.

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Vaishnaw said bank credit growth is now 17%, a significant indicator of the capex cycle that has started in the private sector. Despite global headwinds, India is an economy that will create opportunities for everyone, said Vaishnaw, as he detailed progress made by the railways.

He was speaking a day after the ministry of electronics and IT released the draft Digital Data Protection Bill for feedback.

Trusted partner

The “digital economy doesn’t have a customs border and it is seamless,” Vaishnaw said to a question on data transfers to trusted geographies.

India plays an important role when it comes to data processing in the global digital landscape, the minister said. “We should try and take advantage of this. The entire world’s eyes are on us as a trusted partner and for that, we have also called others our trusted partners,” said Vaishnaw. “We have to integrate with the world in a very fair and transparent manner.”

Further, Vaishnaw said the Centre will roll out approvals for at least two semiconductor fab proposals in the next two months, with production likely to begin in a few months from then.

“We have had an absolutely great response to the semiconductor scheme that was launched in January this year,” he said. “And, hopefully, by January 1, (2023) we would have had two proposals for setting up fabs and start the construction work in the coming months.”

He said the approvals in January would pave the way for construction of the semiconductor wafer fabs, a significant move forward under the government’s $10-billion programme to seed a semiconductor ecosystem.

The minister added that the government is committed to “removing all obstacles” in order to make fabs a reality in the country.

The Centre in February announced that it had received investment proposals worth Rs 1.53 lakh crore to set up semiconductor fabs and display panel factories.

In September, the government broadbased the incentive structure to make it a flat 50% fiscal support across formats and nodes, including assembly and packaging factories.

5G and startups

Speaking about next-generation airwaves, Vaishnaw said 5G will provide scope for innovation in areas such as healthcare and education, among others.

“Today, we are doing about 2,500 (5G) towers a week and hopefully, January onwards, we will be doing about 10,000 towers a week and by Diwali, we should see very good coverage of 5G in the country,” he said.

Karnataka’s chief minister said India’s startup capital, Bengaluru, should have 10 decacorns – companies valued at $10 billion and above – by next year, as entrepreneurs and policymakers accelerate value creation to achieve the state government’s target of contributing $1 trillion to the country’s economy.

Bommai had words of advice for startup founders at the event. He said they should seek out goodwill in the market, while keeping their focus on profits, linking the philosophical concept of ‘punya,’ meaning good deeds.

At the same time, startups should keep honing their skills to think “out of the box.” In that spirit, Bengaluru has made a habit out of creating startups, Bommai said.

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