While West Bengal’s government agencies and associations claim that the state has invested heavily in IT and electronics and is also eyeing increased FDI to improve the ecosystem, the All Bengal Electronics and Accessories Manufacturers’ Association (ELMA), an independent industry body, has something else to say. This association was formed in 1997, when a handful of entrepreneurs from West Bengal decided to get together to develop the electronics ecosystem in the state. Electronics Bazaar’s correspondent Nijhum Rudra spoke to Jayanta Saha, honorary secretary, ELMA, who highlighted the many pitfalls that the WB electronics industry faces, and shared what he believes needs to be done to improve the ecosystem.
EB: Can you please highlight the biggest challenges the West Bengal electronics and manufacturing industry is facing currently.
The electronics manufacturing industry is not growing in West Bengal partly due to the overall slow growth of new industries in the state. WB’s electronics industry has to face stiff competition from imports from other countries as well as other states. Besides this, there are practically no manufacturers of electronic components in WB, and all the raw materials have to be sourced from outside. In order to improve the manufacturing industry, we need to have strong policies governing both imports and exports, from the Central and state governments. There should also be a high level of investment from industry tycoons. Manufacturers are also hesitant to invest and commence production here, as they are not sure about the profits they can earn in West Bengal.
EB: ELMA, being one of the major electronics associations in the state, has been involved in this sector for many years. What are the steps taken by your association to improve the electronics industry?
ELMA has been trying to bring together more and more electronics industries from the state, and has been discussing and negotiating with government bodies on various issues. In the past, ELMA has been successful in getting substantial benefits from the government for its members. Besides, we have also contributed to the education sector of the state, which has been one of our key CSR activities. Our association has taken important initiatives to address the employment issues students face after completing a degree or diploma in electronics, by offering them guidance from veterans to build their careers.
EB: Kindly tell us more about the vision and mission of ELMA.
Initially, ELMA brought together manufacturing units that were scattered throughout West Bengal and did not even know one another. Now, members of ELMA interact with each other and have established healthy business relations. We formulate ideas, strategies and highlight important initiatives to the state government and the state’s electronics corporation – we believe these can improve the sector immensely and make it competitive across the country. Our vision is to make our state one of the leading electronics manufacturers in the nation. In order to achieve that goal, we will have to make our state government understand that it needs more foreign investment and also investment from the country’s global industrial magnates.
EB: What are your expectations from MeitY and the state government to improve and strengthen this particular sector? Do you wish to highlight any particular requirement?
Infrastructure and R&D need more investments, both by the government and the private sector. In consultation with the relevant chambers of commerce and other industry associations, we are trying to arrive at a better analysis of how our state’s electronics ecosystem can be improved. I personally believe that committed and sustained attempts to do so can change an industry.