10 high priority electronic products that can change India’s manufacturing game plan


Boosting the ecosystems of these high potential products would be invaluable for the industry and the investors looking to capitalise on the opportunities available in the Indian ESDM industry

By Srabani Sen

electronic productsTuesday, August 12, 2014: After a slowing down of activities in the latter half of 2013, with respect to the government’s support to the electronics industry, the Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY) seems to have learnt a lesson, having witnessed the fall-out of its slackened pace, and has become more focused. This year, it will focus on promoting the domestic manufacture of 25 high priority electronic products (see Table I) that account for around 82 per cent of the electronics consumed in India, as well as four key components that have high manufacturing potential within the country. According to an IESA-Frost & Sullivan report called the ‘Indian ESDM Market Analysis of Opportunity and Growth Plan’, the top five among these 25 products alone account for 60 per cent of India’s overall electronics consumption. About 69 per cent of local consumption of the top 25 priority products is currently met through imports.

It may not be possible to focus on 1000 products, but we can very well promote the manufacture of these 25 products and four key components,” said Dr Ajay Kumar, joint secretary, DeitY, at an event. “It makes commercial and economic sense to manufacture 25 products and four key components in India. If we can focus on these 25 products, then there should be a substantial change in the electronics industry,” he added.

From last year’s activities, we have realised what the various challenges are. Now we know how to address these issues. So, this year, we will focus on these 25 products and four components, and will also look into promoting the export of these products. The revised Preferential Market Access (PMA) policy is also more focused and we will develop clusters focused on these 25 products now,” Dr Ajay Kumar said.

This initiative would be invaluable for the industry and the investors looking to capitalise on the opportunities available in the Indian ESDM industry.

indian-electronics-marketHIGH PRIORITY PRODUCT MARKETS

A holistic development of the ecosystem can boost the Indian ESDM industry significantly. Identifying the products that account for nearly 80 per cent of the electronics market’s revenues, and providing the necessary support and incentives to eliminate the disability costs associated with local manufacturing/value addition will also enable the overall development in the electronics ecosystem.

Initiatives aimed at promoting indigenous value addition for the top 20-25 per cent of products is expected to have a cascading effect on the remaining 75-80 per cent of the products. In line with the Pareto principle, it has been observed that the market for the top 20 products accounts for 80 per cent of the overall electronics total market (TM) revenues for 2012,” states the IESA-Frost & Sullivan Report.

The study had also identified some other high priority product markets in which the growth trends are even higher than these top 20 products, thus indicating their potential to be significant markets by 2015. “Identifying five such products with significant CAGR trends and providing them the necessary impetus for ecosystem development is also important for the growth of the ESDM industry,” says the report. (See Table I.)


ajaykumarIt may not be possible to focus on 1000 products, but we can very well promote the manufacture of the top 25 products and four key components.It makes commercial and economic sense to manufacture 25 products and four key components in India. If we can focus on these 25 products, then there should be a substantial change in the electronics industry.”

—Dr Ajay Kumar, joint secretary, DeitY

India’s electronics manufacturing has remained in obscurity due to multiple reasons including scale impediments, infrastructural inadequacy, the absence of large scale manufacturing ecosystems, proactive IP orientation as well as debilitating tax and duty regimes. The government has woken up to these disabilities and is making efforts to offset them, as electronics manufacturing is now seen as a priority sector. This sector has the capability to bridge a rapidly increasing trade imbalance and create enormous employment opportunities for the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour force.

The IESA-Frost & Sullivan Report has identified seven products out of these 25 and three common components used in these products, which have some kind of ecosystem in India, have enormous domestic demand, and hence, can increase indigenous electronics manufacturing in the next two years, with a little handholding from the government. These seven products are energy meters, inverters and UPS systems, smartphones, LED lighting, smart cards, payment terminals, and 4W engine management systems. The three components are PCBs, LCD displays and transformers.

Let’s find out the manufacturing capabilities, strengths and weaknesses of these products and what steps are required to improve their local ecosystems.


  • Opportunity by 2015: $0.3 bn (TM), $0.35 bn (TDM)

  • Top 4 components that contribute to BoM: SoC, transformers, LCD displays and super cap

Electronic energy meters have a good potential in the country. High demand, product design capabilities and IP linked to anti-tamper technology design are some of the advantages that will help domestic manufacturers. The high demand is primarily due to drivers such as rural electrification, power sector reforms (the deregulation process is being vigorously implemented by Central and state governments), and the formation of privately owned distribution companies with a mandate to improve efficiency in operations and to improve customer satisfaction. The Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform Program (R-APDRP), initiated by the government to implement efficient energy metering and demonstrate sustained loss reduction, and the adoption of prepaid and smart meters will further fuel the growth of the market.

speakers.14The energy meters market in India is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.3 per cent by 2015. All the energy meters in the Indian market are manufactured locally with some companies doing a considerable level of exports.

All the top players do high local value addition with only the electronic parts being imported. They also carry out product design locally, and most of the top players also have IP protection for their innovations. Other than the electronic parts, all the other raw materials are sourced locally and developed indigenously. The mechanical components, electronic hardware and firmware, as well as the calibration, design and testing are performed indigenously.

In the energy meters value chain, the main challenge is that the country is highly dependent on imports for the advanced electronics. Although chip design for energy meters is carried out by some of the leading semiconductor players in India, the country doesn’t have the manufacturing capabilities for the same.

Among the components and raw materials, copper for transformers is available, but India is dependent on imports for the capsule. Although there are a few good quality local suppliers of capacitors and resistors, manufacturers predominantly import these as well.

Recommendations: Development of standards for the manufacture of energy meters is the first requirement. An R&D fund for innovations in smart meters is needed, and it is essential to create opportunities for manufacturing key components such as communication modules and transceivers.


  • Opportunity by 2015: $1.56 bn (TM), $1.37 bn (TDM)

  • Top 4 components that contribute to BoM: Transformers, power semi, heat sinks and microcontrollers

sanjeevIndia’s focus should not only be on manufacturing but also on high value added manufacturing in terms of design, components, EMS and testing. Today, we import 65 per cent of the electronic products, and the balance 35 per cent is mostly low value added manufacturing. So, creating a local high value added manufacturing ecosystem will help us in three ways—create job opportunities for engineers; reduce imports, which will save foreign exchange; and develop local IP/technology that will help us in adding more value to our products, and we can then explore export opportunities as well.”

—Sanjeev Keskar, managing director, sales, PMC Sierra India and SEA

The inverter and UPS systems market in India was estimated to be worth US$ 1189 million in 2012, and is predicted to grow at about 9.7 per cent till 2015. The manufacturing ecosystem for these products is quite mature in India, even though the technological requirements of UPS manufacturing are greater than the manufacturing and design capabilities India currently has. “Demand from the home and SOHO segments is expected to fuel the growth of the inverter market. The unorganised segment has a large share of the inverter market, though this has been declining lately due to enhanced consumer awareness,” states Kunwer Sachdev, managing director, Su-Kam Power Systems. Unorganised players source their products in knocked-down units from East Asia, which do not compare favourably with locally produced products in quality and reliability. However, of late, their input costs have increased on account of duties being levied on the import of lead and lead products. Also, organised players have strengthened their distribution networks, thus posing a bigger challenge to the unorganised players.

Manufacturing is an important and key activity in the supply chain, and India has the capability to manufacture inverters and UPS systems,” says Kunwer Sachdev. “India should, therefore, have a holistic manufacturing ecosystem for these products. Local manufacturing should be encouraged by lowering the excise duty, and making the process of reimbursing tax credits easier and quicker in order to promote business confidence,” he adds.

Recommendations: Government should encourage the industry to gain expertise in the design and manufacturing of UPS systems of higher power ratings (> 10 KVA) by investing in R&D. The country does possess the competencies to manufacture some of the components for these products like PCBs and transformers. However, Indian manufacturers find it difficult to compete with cheaper Chinese products. Indigenous manufacturers also do not have sufficient volumes to compete with the Chinese, who are able to price their products lower due to their economies of scale. The government could aid local players in this regard by offering preferential excise duties and facilitating quicker reimbursement of tax credits.

tvasuHigh thrust to components industry and populated PCBs mandatorily made in India will have a percolating effect in electronics manufacturing.”

—T Vasu, director, Tandon Group


  • Opportunity by 2015: $23.67 bn (TM), $4.09 bn (TDM)

  • Top 4 components that contribute to BoM: Memory, displays, application processors/SoC and cameras

Driven by replacement sales, the proliferation of smartphones and multi-SIM mobiles, and with a rapidly growing rural mobile subscription base, the sales of mobile phones in India are growing significantly. Mobile phone shipment volumes in the country are anticipated to grow (from 198 million units in 2012) to 269 million units by 2015, at a CAGR of 10.9 per cent.

Despite this high demand, local manufacturing is quite insignificant. Nokia’s entry into the India market helped to develop an ecosystem. Indigenous manufacturing volumes of mobile phones were estimated to be 136 million units in 2012 and are poised to scale to 152 million units by 2015, growing at a CAGR of 37 per cent.

The Indian market is witnessing competition between foreign suppliers and indigenous players. Besides the top few players who control almost 70 per cent of the market in India, there are numerous indigenous players with varying capabilities. Most of these indigenous suppliers currently utilise the services of contract manufacturers in China and do limited design activity in-house. Market leaders such as Samsung and Nokia do only the last level of low value-addition assembly, locally.

The mobile phone value chain in India comprises various component and subsystem suppliers, technology licensors and application developers, apart from the downstream service providers and retailers.

While PCB assembly and mounting the casing are handled locally, the board, along with the key components that are mounted, are imported. The import of chipsets and displays represents a huge void in the local ecosystem. Thus there is negligent local sourcing resulting in extremely low, local value-addition.

However, an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) ecosystem for mobile phone manufacturing does exist in the country. Currently, EMS vendors are engaged only in box level assembly. But with the rising costs of manufacturing in China, indigenous manufacturers like Micromax are planning to manufacture locally.

Most components are not available in India and fabrication facilities are also absent. This forces a reliance on imports. However, there is some local design activity in the SoC and processor space. Currently, there is a higher probability of value addition in the electromechanicals, peripherals, batteries and software space.

Recommendations: It is, therefore, essential for the government to offer fiscal incentives that help in nullifying the disability costs associated with local manufacturing. These incentives need to be linked to generating value addition to ensure the growth of the ecosystem.


  • Opportunity by 2015: $0.44 bn (TM), $0.20 bn (TDM)

  • Top 4 components that contribute to BoM: LEDs, driver circuits, heat sinks and thermal interfaces

The Indian LED lighting market generated revenue of US$ 168.6 million in 2012 and is expected to reach a turnover of US$ 440.7 million by 2015, growing at a CAGR of 38 per cent. “We expect significant growth in the Indian market over the next few years. Street lighting and commercial lighting are slated to be the biggest applications for the next few years,” says Amrith Prabhu, country head, Philips Lumileds. The residential segment could become significant in the next five to seven years. Despite the growing volumes, the absence of indigenous LED fabs results in complete reliance on imports. Indigenous manufacturing volumes of LED lights in 2012 were estimated to be 5.2 million units and are poised to scale to 20.35 million units by 2015, growing at a CAGR of 57 per cent.

The LED lighting value chain comprises various material suppliers, component and subsystem suppliers, assemblers and the downstream retailers, distributors, traders, resellers and consumers. Most of the components required for manufacturing LEDs are imported. In order to get white light from LEDs, yellow phosphor has to be used as a coating, which is an expensive rare earth metal currently imported from China.

Manufacturing LEDs involves expensive technology. So, in the absence of a local ecosystem, not many lighting suppliers in India have been able to manufacture the LED light source. Heat sinks and drivers are manufactured in India, whereas the light source with the lenses, reflectors and chips are entirely imported because their manufacture involves high levels of technology and expertise. The critical challenge is that there are no fabs in India to manufacture the semiconductor material or develop the ICs. The bigger players either import the individual components or assemble them locally, in-house, or through a contract manufacturer. There are some traders and small players in the unorganised market who import the entire LED light as a finished product.

Recommendations: In order to promote local manufacturing, the government should offer incentives on the purchase of raw materials for domestic manufacturing.

sasiFor many electronic products, there is the possibility of demand aggregation on the part of government and public sector agencies. This may be one of the quick ways to promote domestic manufacturing of electronic products. OEMs may create numerous opportunities for the creation of a vendor ecosystem, comprising manufacturers of electronic components/assemblies as well as those of non-electronic parts. Apart from revenue generation and job creation, a vibrant local ESDM industry will support technical education, skills development, research, innovation and IP creation in India, as strategically envisaged in the National Policy on Electronics 2012.”

—Sasi Kumar S, partner-advisory, government and public sector, Ernst & Young


  • Opportunity by 2015: $0.52 bn (TM), $0.57 bn (TDM)

  • Top 4 components that contribute to BoM: Chip, PETG, software OS and antennas

Government ID programmes, social welfare schemes and telecom SIM applications are the prime drivers of demand for smart cards in India. The government is driving the adoption of smart cards by planning smart chips in ration cards, and other schemes like UID, NREGA, RSBY, etc, thus creating a huge opportunity for the local market. The annual shipment of smart cards in 2012 was estimated at 670 million units.

The smart cards value chain comprises various material and component suppliers, systems integrators, and the markets comprising the government, and sectors like IT, transportation, banking, etc. All the top players in this market have their own manufacturing facilities locally where assembly activity is carried out. The electronic components are imported, while the on-card and off-card technologies are locally developed. The software development and its integration are done in-house, while the plastic sheets are partially imported and partially sourced locally.

India’s greatest strength in this market is its enormous software developing capabilities. On-card and off-card technologies, interoperability, operating system development, hard mouse chips, embedding and milling capabilities are available in the country.

The challenge that the industry is currently facing is linked to low demand. Most of the recently announced projects will take a few years to become operational and, therefore, capacity building will rise gradually along with an increase in volumes. The country lacks intellectual property in the field of product design. It also lacks chip fabrication facilities. Plastic is the second most expensive component in a smart card and is only partially sourced locally, with a majority of the local requirements being imported. Although there are numerous Indian suppliers who provide PETG at competitive prices, many players still prefer to import these. Printing and personalisation is entirely done locally.

Recommendations: The government should encourage components to be sourced locally by bringing smart cards under the Preferential Market Access (PMA) scheme.


  • Opportunity by 2015: $0.22 bn (TM), $0.011 bn (TDM)

  • Top 4 components that contribute to BoM: Communication modules, LCD/TFT displays, processors and printers

The electronic payment market in India has been growing steadily, year on year. In 2012, the credit, debit and other electronic payment methods grew at a rate of 30 per cent over the previous year, registering 1.2 billion transactions. POS systems shipments in the country are anticipated to grow from 0.7 million units in 2012 to 1.1 million units by 2015, at a CAGR of 16.3 per cent. The government has announced that it will set up nearly 1.4 million Aadhaar-linked micro ATMs across the country, which will deploy PoS terminals to read cards.

The payment terminal value chain comprises various component and subsystem suppliers, assemblers as well as retailers and consumers. While local manufacturing is restricted to just assembly activities, the country is highly reliant on imports for all the electronic components in the product. The high cost of finance for the investments required for component manufacturing and the Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) certification act as huge barriers for local manufacturers to explore local value addition.

Indigenous manufacturers import all of the electronic components required, and execute assembly activities while packaging and integration. Casing manufacturing is also done locally. There are design houses in Bengaluru that develop products and also have IP capabilities. With regard to components, the electronic modules, processors, communication modules, interfaces, battery circuits, displays and printers are imported.

Currently, sustained and growing demand for POS systems is a key strength in the industry. Other advantages include design capability, EMS and also PCB development, but the critical challenge is that there is no ecosystem feeding this industry and most of the components are imported. This lack of a foundation prevents the development of local manufacturing for this market. The huge investments required to set up foundries, fabs and to acquire certification are major challenges for local manufacturers.

Recommendations: The government should offer incentives for software developers and customisation service providers. The creation of indigenous standards, and setting up of subsidised testing facilities for EMV compliance are a must. It should also encourage local sourcing of plastic (PETG) by offering preferential excise rates when raw materials are locally sourced.


  • Opportunity by 2015: $308.1 bn (TM), $308.1 bn (TDM)

  • Top 4 components that contribute to BoM: Microcontrollers, power semi, CDI capacitors and transformers

Better engine performance and the need to adhere to better emission norms have been influencing the adoption of engine management systems (EMS) in four wheelers. The total market for 4W EMS in 2012 was 3.66 million units, which is expected to reach 5.47 million units in 2015, growing at a CAGR of 13.5 per cent. Of the total market, domestic manufacturing amounted to about 1.94 million units in 2012. It is expected to reach 3.56 million units by 2015, growing at a CAGR of 22.4 per cent.

Almost 50 per cent of the total demand is met through imports, while the rest is met through local assembly. Local companies presently test the systems and develop EMS software, both of which are considered a medium level of value addition in the country. Nearly 95 per cent of the electronics and raw materials required are imported.

Recommendations: The country needs to develop an electronics ecosystem along with local sources for the remaining raw materials, as this product segment holds tremendous growth opportunities. This could be achieved by attracting investments through the MSIPS policy, coupled with preferential excise duties or greater rates of CENVAT.


India has a good number of PCB manufacturers. However, local capabilities are restricted to producing single, dual and multi-layered PCBs of up to 8-12 layers. The PCBs needed in most of the 25 high priority products—especially in telecom, consumer and automotive applications—require complex multi-layered PCBs that are not available locally, thus forcing local manufacturers to import.

Manufacturers in India have the capability and technology to produce all kinds of PCBs; all they need is government support to upgrade their production volumes. They can even cater to markets for high-end products with high levels of technology. Currently, only one-third of India’s PCB demand is met by domestic producers, which amounts to about Rs 16.5 billion. So, about two-thirds of the demand is met by imports,” says Viral Bhulani, president, Indian Printed Circuit Association (IPCA).

Even if India has the capability to manufacture PCBs, all the components like diodes, chips, transistors, etc, are not manufactured in India. “India has the technology, engineers and experienced entrepreneurs to take the PCB industry to the next level. What we lack is the experience in volume production. We are still making PCBs semi-automatically, and the level of automation prevalent in other countries is not available in India as yet,” adds Viral Bhulani.

Recommendations: Government should concentrate on high import tariffs for PCB imports, zero duty on raw material imports, export subsidies/low interest loans for PCB manufacturers, and easier reimbursement of CENVAT.


The transformer market is dominated by small scale indigenous manufacturers as it requires limited infrastructure and inexpensive labour. However, several transformer companies in the small and unorganised sector are slowly graduating to the medium-sized category, thus expanding the base of organised participants. Domestic manufacturers have developed capabilities to manufacture all types of equipment to meet the country’s demand for transformers up to 800 kV, even going up to 1200 kV. The industry has more than doubled its manufacturing capacity over the last five years.

Yet, owing to the cost advantage, transformers are still predominantly imported. Reliance on imports for raw materials, specifically copper, is a major handicap for Indian transformer manufacturers in achieving faster turnaround times as well as lowering production costs. The Indian industry has to upgrade itself to manufacture high capacity transformers; otherwise, it would be difficult for small manufacturers to compete with China.

The consumer and industrial electronics segments drive the demand for transformers.

Recommendations: The government should bring in preferential excise duty for transformer manufacturing and offer tax rebates. It should subsidise the logistics costs of importing copper to reduce the landed cost. Also, special interest loans to SMEs for working capital should be made easily available.


India possesses local design and manufacturing capabilities for LCD displays. However, the cost of producing panels and its technology-intensive nature have deprived India of an LCD display assembling/manufacturing ecosystem. The major factor that limits the sector from manufacturing is the existing duty structure, which makes importing a cheaper option for displays. But it always makes sense to develop a local ecosystem, given the high demand anticipated for the various products that require displays. Moreover, favourable incentives for panel manufacturing are available under MSIPS.

Recommendations: Manufacture of motherboards and LCD displays for tablets should be given incentives by exempting individual components from basic customs duty and excise duty or by offering preferential excise duty. Sheet metal fabrication and plastic moulding are fairly mature technologies in India; hence, the manufacturing of tablet enclosures could also be offered incentives. The government should also offer preferential excise duty for panel manufacturing, along with tax rebates and easier access to funds to encourage local technology development. 

Steps to promote an indigenous ecosystem for key components

Printed circuit boards (PCBs)

  • Impose a high import tariff; impose zero duty on raw material imports

  • Interest subsidies/low interest loans

  • Quicker reimbursement of CENVAT

  • Provision of export subsidies

  • Elimination of inverted duty structure

  • Impose anti-dumping duty/safeguard duty


  • Offer incentives for import of components by providing tax rebates for local manufacturers

  • Set up local design houses, and leverage R&D tax credit to attract global OEMs to invest in local manufacturing of components

  • Streamline continuous availability of copper at subsidised prices

  • Preferential excise duties of 2 per cent; facilitate quicker reimbursement of tax credits

  • Offer greater CENVAT credit for local sourcing

  • Develop infrastructure to facilitate copper imports, leading to shorter lead times

  • Promote establishment of manufacturing clusters using EMC and MSIPS policies

LCD displays

  • Offer preferential excise duties or greater rates of CENVAT credit

  • Hike the import duty on finished panels

  • Fund local display technology development

Electronics Bazaar, South Asia’s No.1 Electronics B2B magazine