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Digital India Starts with Good ICT Policy

Last week, ITI led a group of tech associations in sending a letter to India Prime Minister Modi supporting a change in policy to allow importing of valuable spare parts and equipment. Prime Minister Modi is one of the most influential world leaders on social media and is an avid user of technology, so we will also tweet the letter and hope the Prime Minister will notice it during his busy schedule.

This past July, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology of India rejected a number of used information and communications technology (ICT) equipment shipments into India because they erroneously considered them to be waste or hazardous waste. The rejection could cost individual companies millions of dollars annually. As of today, these shipments remain stuck with Indian Customs.

India’s ban on the importation of used goods has led to larger problems for the ICT sector, as we struggle to fulfill warranties and service our customers in India, and also face operational disruption. Increasingly, companies are not able to import refurbished, certified spare parts such as motherboards, hard disks, tape drives, flat panel displays for laptops, monitors, microprocessors, and other ICT support-related parts. India’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) has delayed some importation approvals for these parts and equipment for over one year. As a result, government and enterprise consumers are facing inordinate delays for service and repairs. Many of our multinational ICT member companies find this arbitrary restriction to be a major hurdle to the ease of doing business in India.

Erecting ill-conceived barriers for used and refurbished ICT components also undercuts Prime Minister Modi’s Digital India initiative and the Made in India campaign. In fact, many of our members are currently running manufacturing units and research and development (R&D) centers in the country and some are considering expanding their capacity. Daily operations of these facilities depend heavily on continued importation of used ICT parts and equipment. Refurbished equipment and parts, in particular, are needed to repair installed capital equipment and meet warranty and service requirements. Ultimately, this import ban hurts Indian companies and undercuts India’s own ability to innovate.

To be clear, ITI member companies do not import equipment, components, or parts to be dumped as waste, and hence should not be associated with the e-waste problem in India. In fact, the safe reuse of these parts to extend ICT lifecycles can only help in the effort to reduce e-waste. Properly servicing in-country equipment delays the need for the Indian government and commercial customers to purchase new equipment

That is why ITI is calling upon Prime Minister Modi and policymakers in his government to craft policies that recognize the important, legitimate role of importing used and refurbished parts and equipment to repair and refurbish installed ICT hardware. These installed products require routine maintenance to ensure their continued functionality and to extend their life cycles. Warranties and annual maintenance contracts for high-end ICT servers, for example, often extend through the year 2025. To keep these systems operating, companies export non-functioning equipment or components to repair facilities overseas, and then re-import them to India for use extending the servers’ life spans.

Our member companies are committed to investing in India and supporting the Prime Minister’s ambitious economic growth and development goals. However, the issue of importing refurbished equipment and parts, if left unresolved, will have enormous consequences on our companies’ operations and will serve as a deterrent for many of these future investments.

Our letter to Prime Minister Modi makes it clear: this is the perfect time to help us to help India.

Public Policy Tags: Environment & Sustainability, Trade & Investment, Energy