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Drafting of rules under data protection law in advanced stage; extensive industry consultations soon: Vaishnaw

At the same time, the Minister for Electronics and IT assured that regulatory work will see 'good continuity' and that the agenda on digital regulatory framework remains 'intact'.
Last Updated : 15 June 2024, 15:38 IST

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New Delhi: Drafting of rules under the data protection legislation is in advanced stage with industry-wide consultations slated soon, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Saturday, asserting that India will also look at doubling electronics production and adding jobs under the Modi 3.0 government.

At the same time, the Minister for Electronics and IT assured that regulatory work will see "good continuity" and that the agenda on digital regulatory framework remains "intact". The timelines for semiconductor plants of Micron and Tata Group too are on track.

The process of implementation of the Digital Personal Data Protection (DPDP) Act will be based on 'digital-by-design' principle, paving the way for a new way of working, and the work on creating this 'digital by design' platform is also moving in parallel. Such a platform or portal will be created in-house by the likes of NIC and DIC.

The Parliament had passed the DPDP Act in August last year. The key piece of legislation aims to protect the privacy of Indian citizens while proposing a penalty of up to Rs 250 crore on entities for misusing or failing to protect digital data of individuals.

"We had started the rules' drafting work around December. DPDP rules drafting is in very advanced stage. We will start the industry consultation now and go as extensive as we can," Vaishnaw told reporters at a briefing.

Both the Telecom Act as well as the DPDP Act had entailed extensive consultations, he said while promising that the rules of DPDP too will not be a rushed affair and will involve "as consutative a process as can be".

"In parallel, we are working on creating a digital-by-design platform so implementation can be done in a digital form, which is part of the Act," he said.

Vaishnaw, who took charge as Minister for Electronics and IT earlier this week, said he reviewed the work-in-progress on data protection rules and is happy with the outcomes. However, there will be tweaks and changes based on industry and stakeholder views, he said.

The other big priority for the ministry is in the area of electronics production -- where India has set its sight on becoming a global manufacturing powerhouse.

"In the last four months, queries have come on large players wanting to come in, on the process and modalities of setting up plants, and we have been directing them to OEMs so that OEMs and component manufacturers can have a synergy," he said.

The minister exuded confidence that a "good and clear picture" on this would emerge in coming three-four months.

"We are in a stage where our dream of becoming a big electronics manufacturer will be fulfilled," he affirmed.

While Micron's plant will ensure made-in-India memory chip, progress on other plants is also good. Vaishnaw has spoken to chief ministers of Assam and Gujarat, and both states have assured their full support on all aspects and are taking keen interest in ongoing projects.

Manpower training is also moving in tandem as India looks to build a formidable skills base in areas of chip manufacturing; in fact some universities are being empanelled by manufacturers themselves for building a skilled pool of manpower.

Housing needs of workers, in these massive electronics and semiconductor plants that are coming up in India, is an areas which is being proactively addressed. In Assam and Gujarat, for instance, state governments are assuring full support on the housing aspects, including providing timely permissions.

"In electronics, each plant employs 20,000-30,000 people...For instance, Tata Electronics' plant has already crossed 40,000-mark in one single plant, and is now moving towards 50,000...that means they have to create their own housing, which they are doing," an official said.

India's electronics production is currently pegged at roughly USD 125-130 billion with employment numbers at 20-25 lakh.

"I can see that in this term, we should be easily doubling it, about 50 lakh in terms of employment number, and USD 200-300 billion as total production. In fact, I think we should be taking a more aggressive target, which I think we should do once we talk with the industry," Vaishnaw said.

On laptop and server production, India is in the process of becoming self-reliant and most of companies that were granted permission have started production.

According to Vaishnaw, India will also have a massive ecosystem of EVs (electric vehicles) in coming three-four years.

On regulations, the minister said there is a "good continuity" and government's thought process of creating new digital regulatory framework is "absolutely intact". The overall structure in terms of the Telecom Act, DPDP, and draft Digital India Bill "remians intact".

Sources said that in the the light of developments in the recent past, where the destructive power of AI and deepfakes have been in the spotlight, the larger question is whether strategy should be recalibrated.

"We need to definitely have a good legal structure where our society and democracy can be protected," Vaishnaw said.

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Published 15 June 2024, 15:38 IST

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