Top corporates on Wednesday pledged investments of Rs. 4.5 lakh crore for initiatives to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project ‘Digital India’, while also promising to create about 18 lakh jobs in the country.
“Investments of about Rs. 4.5 lakh crore have been committed for Digital India by industrialists here and employment for approximately 18 lakh people will be generated,” Mr. Modi said, addressing the audience at the launch of the Digital India Week. He commended the efforts put in by the Information Technology Ministry, headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Of the investments, which are led by Indian companies, Reliance Industries committed to invest “Rs. 2,50,000 crore across Digital India pillars”, including roll-out of wireless broadband infrastructure and manufacturing of mobile handsets.
RIL’s chairman Mukesh Ambani said the investments in digital space would create employment for over 5 lakh people. “Normally, the industry moves faster than the government, but with Digital India, the government has moved faster,” he said.
The RIL is “committed to making the necessary investments and strongly partner with central and state governments in the area of e-governance, digital education, digital healthcare, smart cities and rural digital services.”
Companies outline road map
Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal said here on Wednesday that his firm would fully support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India project. “We at Airtel are fully committed to stand behind this vision. We will make very meaningful contribution to the initiative of Digital India.”
Addressing the launch function, Mr. Mittal said the company would invest in excess of Rs. 1 lakh crore ($16 billion) in the next five years.
He said the company would be working with various manufacturers around the world to start production in the country with an aim to provide electronic products at affordable rates and also reduce the burden of electronics import.
Likewise, the Aditya Birla Group committed to invest a total of $ 9 billion in the next five years. “Our investments in the telecom industry have been in excess of $ 15 billion wherein we have laid 1 lakh km of fibre...to further improve this digital infrastructure. We plan to invest additional $ 7 billion over the next five years in areas such as network roll-out, broadband and wi-fi deployment,” Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla said.
He said the company would invest $ 2 billion in projects falling within the ambit of the Digital India initiative such as electronic manufacturing and development of smart cities.
Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry, while he did not specify any investment road map, said the group’s IT arm, TCS, which employs about 3,00,000 people, plans to hire 60,000 people this year.
Reliance Group, led by Anil Ambani also announced plans to invest about Rs. 10,000 crore over the next few years to expand its presence across digital, cloud computing and telecom space.
Encouraging others to make use of e-government services such as Digital Locker, an online file or digital media storage service, Mr. Ambani said he had already signed up for it.
He said a crucial condition for the success of Digital India was the availability of “unlimited cloud computing power”, the building blocks of which are data centres.
“The Reliance Group is today India’s largest provider of data centre facilities, with a total capacity of over 6,00,000 sq.ft. spread across the country,” he said, adding that plans are to double this capacity to 1.2 million sq.ft. in the next few years.
Billionaire Anil Agarwal-led Sterlite Technologies, meanwhile, announced an investment of Rs. 40,000 crore to set up an LCD panel manufacturing plant in the country, generating about 50,000 jobs.
“Sterlite Technologies will play a responsible role in being a part of Digital India. We are already working on a project in J&K to connect the Defence establishment through optical fibres,” Mr. Agarwal, who is the head of mining giant Vedanta Resources Plc, said.
Homegrown handset maker Lava Mobiles, which had previously committed to set up a factory at the cost of Rs. 1,200 crore, has pledged to create employment for one lakh people.
Of the three foreign companies who addressed the audience, Taiwan’s Delta Electronics announced $ 500 million investment over the next 10 years to start electronic manufacturing with an aim to increase its presence in the country.