Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday promised a "forward-looking" electronics and IT hardware manufacturing policy soon to help realise late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's dream of building a modern India.
Inaugurating an industrial park set up here by Singapore-based Flextronics, Manmohan Singh termed it as a tribute to the memory of Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in this town on May 21, 1991, when he was campaigning during the general election. Expressing happiness that Sriperumbudur was emerging as the hardware capital of India with several world-class electronic hardware complexes being established by international firms such as Flextronics, Nokia, Motorola and Dell, the prime minister said electronics, IT and telecommunication hardware manufacturing have a great potential in India. "Our government will follow a forward-looking policy regime that will continue to encourage this sector and promote new investment, create new employment and generate new business opportunities," said Manmohan Singh, who was on a daylong visit of Tamil Nadu. "We will reduce tariffs on 217 IT items to zero percent as agreed at the WTO (World Trade Organisation). This will promote greater competition, which in turn will help the development of our own electronics industry." The prime minister pointed out that the special economic zone (SEZ) policy was already quite favourable for electronics manufacturing firms. "To make our electronics and IT hardware industry more competitive, our government will soon come forward with an electronics/IT hardware manufacturing policy." Expressing hope that the Flextronics facility for manufacture of electronic hardware and equipment would help to make this township a world-class manufacturing hub for IT and electronics, the prime minister pointed out that several other major projects were in the process of being set up here. These include Motorola-Foxconn's plan to invest $500 million more in Sriperumbudur, while Nokia has already set up an SEZ in the area with an investment of about $200 million. A study commissioned by the Indian Semiconductor Association has indicated that Indian electronics/IT market will grow from $28 billion in 2005 to $363 billion by 2015. A major part of this is expected to be hardware including semiconductor chips. Remembering Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan Singh said: "For me, as for millions of Indians, a journey to Sriperumbudur is always a pilgrimage. We come here to rededicate ourselves to a just and equitable society for the new world of Rajivji's dreams." Rajiv Gandhi's widow and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi said: "Sriperumbudur is full of painful memories for me but now I also have pleasant memories. It was Rajiv Gandhi who ushered India into the era of computers. He saw technology as an instrument of change."