Technology companies on Friday said it has potential to grow up to USD 4 trillion, surpassing the government's expectations to make India USD 1-trillion digital economy by 2022.
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who chaired a meeting with industry captains to chalk out a growth plan, said the government will formulate a new set of strategies to support growth including a new electronics policy, software product policy and a framework for data security and protection.
"There was unanimity among all the participants that USD 1-trillion digital economy is an understatement. India has the immense potential to go to USD 2 to 3 to 4 trillion digital economy potential", Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters after meeting with top industry leaders.
The meeting was attended by top experts such as Nasscom President R Chandrashekhar, Google India's Rajan Anandan, Wipro's Rishad Premji, Indian Cellular Association National President Pankaj Mohindroo, NIIT Chairman Rajendra Pawar and Hike Messenger CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal, among others.
Notable absentees from the event included Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
The government has projected that Indian digital economy will become USD 1 trillion by 2022 from around USD 450 billion digital economy at present.
As of now, the Indian electronics market is estimated to be around USD 100 billion, IT sector USD 150 billion, telecom USD 150 billion, e-commerce USD 30-40 billion and rest is estimated to be size of shared economy like taxi hailing services, start-ups etc.
"One participant said that BPO alone has potential to reach USD 1 trillion potential. One participant said that electronics manufacturing itself has the potential to reach that in coming in 3-4 years. I asked them specifically that is this the hope shared by all. All of them said we share this", Prasad said.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT has projected IT and ITeS sector to grow to USD 350 billion by 2025 from USD 160 billion, while electronics sector is poised to touch USD 300 billion by the same time (from USD 100 billion currently).
Telecom and e-commerce are projected to grow to USD 150 billion each, while sharing economy and digital skilling each presents a USD 30 billion opportunity.
Digital payments, cyber security and Internet of Things-- all of which are expanding at a significant pace -- are expected to touch USD 50 billion, USD 35 billion and USD 20 billion, respectively.
It was also projected that the digital economy will generate 30 million employment opportunities by 2024-25, which is double than the current scenario.
The ministry has identified digital payments, Make In India, Start-Up India, Skill India among the key drivers of the digital economy.
Highlighting the potential of the "new economy" with avenues like digital payments and e-commerce, Prasad said the focus needs to be on creating technology that is affordable, developmental and digitally inclusive.
Prasad said that deliberations at the meeting had also brought out the need to promote an ecosystem to facilitate more start ups in areas like education, agriculture and healthcare.
"I have decided that we will have a coordinated action with Health, Agriculture and HRD Ministries to promote an ecosystem to facilitate more startups in these areas", he said.
Prasad added that the idea of setting up special innovative zones for start-ups will be explored and a framework for startup cluster policy will be developed.
Besides, digital skilling has a lot of potential as India has a rich talent pool that can be used to meet global demand in emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.
"We need to re-skill and re-purpose ourselves. We have a list of different skills, where we need people... If you re-skill yourself in block chain or AI, there is no shortage of jobs globally", Tech Mahindra Managing Director and CEO C P Gurnani said.
Citing a Nasscom report, Prasad said that in the last three years, almost six lakh people have been employed in the IT sector, while in 2016-17, the number of people employed was around 1.7 lakh. About 2.5-3 million new jobs are expected to be created by 2025.
He refuted reports of job losses by Indian IT firms, terming them as "motivated".
"There has been a lot of debate, and by any standards of economy, this talk of job decline in the IT sector is motivated", he said.
In terms of challenges, the participants had pointed out the need for setting up a dispute resolution mechanism and liberal regulatory norms.