EB: How do you plan to lead ELCINA as its president?
We, in the electronics industry, particularly those in manufacturing, have set ourselves a goal to fill the gap between India’s manufacturing output and its consumption. Currently, India produces electronics products worth about US$ 25,000 million, of which US$ 5000 million worth is exported. So, only about US$ 20,000 million is available for local consumption, whereas consumption of electronics products in India is more than US$ 45,000 million. There is a huge gap between local demand and local manufacture worth US$ 20,000 million, and this is bound to widen sharply due to the surge in consumption, year on year. So, I would like to work closely with the members of ELCINA and the industry, in general, as well as with the government, to bridge this widening gap between demand and supply, and help boost manufacturing in India.
Through ELCINA, I would also like to raise awareness on the proposal that we have recently presented to the government, asking it to develop more manufacturing clusters in the country. These clusters would ideally be about 100 acres of developed land with the infrastructure in place for MSMEs to set up their establishments. It will provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to optimise commercial schemes and management skills by locating different units under various schemes within the same cluster. ELCINA has been offered to be the nodal agency to drive this cluster plan. We are working towards turning these clusters into reality as soon as possible, and are striving to help the electronics manufacturing sector to be fully equipped with modern techniques to produce world class quality products.
EB: You have vast experience in electronics manufacturing in the public and private sectors, as well as with MNCs. How do you think this experience will help you to take ELCINA forward?
Sharing my experience with the young MSME members of ELCINA may benefit them. With my experience, I would be able to enhance the skills of the younger aspiring generation, who, in turn, can make their contributions to the growth of the industry.
EB: What do you attribute your success to?
I observe every issue from the grassroots level and learn from it. I never hesitate to shoulder additional responsibility or fear taking risks. I think these capabilities have helped me go up the ladder.
EB: The manufacturing segment of the Indian electronics industry is not doing as well as in other countries. What role can ELCINA play to boost the industry?
Unfortunately, in India, entrepreneurs can make higher profits by trading in imported electronics goods as compared to manufacturing them, and they choose that easy path. Though 1991 saw substantial liberalisation, followed by the development of SEZs in 2000, the real encouragement to the manufacturing sector has not happened due to inverted duty structures, disability factors, and no level playing field when compared to competitors in the neighbouring countries. This is what we, in ELCINA, are taking up with the government consistently.
We sincerely hope that the government, on its part, will implement on a priority basis, the new policy in the pipeline. This policy, of course, includes special incentives for electronics manufacturing and support for the clusters mentioned above.
EB: Please tell us a little about your journey in the electronics industry, and in the manufacturing industry, in particular.
I graduated as a mechanical engineer from the University of Madras, and worked in a telecom equipment manufacturing organisation in Chennai. I moved up to head various functions in the organisation before I joined the Tandon Group of companies in 1989. As a director (corp. services), I am closely associated with the manufacturing plant in Chennai special economic zone.
I have made my own humble contributions in creating a favourable environment for the growth of the electronics industry in India. In 1994, through the Federation of Export Processing Zone Associations, I made a presentation to Dr Manmohan Singh, who was then the Finance Minister, which aimed at liberalising and simplifying processes for manufacturers and exporters.
In 2004, as a founder member of the Export Promotion Council, I was elected as the vice chairman, and then as the chairman in 2006. From 2009 onwards, I have been actively involved with ELCINA.