In­dia can be a med­i­cal de­vices hub

Down to Earth - - SPECIAL REPORT -

The Cen­tre's de­ci­sion to al­low 100 per cent FDI to man­u­fac­ture med­i­cal de­vices will ben­e­fit only multi­na­tion­als who will push do­mes­tic play­ers out of busi­ness, be­lieves RA­JIV NATH, co­or­di­na­tor of the As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dian Med­i­cal De­vice In­dus­try. In an in­ter­view to KUN­DAN PANDEY, he says the gov­ern­ment should fo­cus on en­abling do­mes­tic play­ers to meet the coun­try's grow­ing de­mand for med­i­cal de­vices Why are do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers op­pos­ing the Cen­tre's de­ci­sion to al­low 100 per cent FDI in the med­i­cal de­vice in­dus­try? We are not op­pos­ing FDI in the in­dus­try. But there are caveats. We are against 100 per cent FDI in brown­field projects. The move will not only kill ex­ist­ing do­mes­tic man­u­fac­tur­ers by mak­ing them an easy tar­get for takeovers but will also de­feat the very pur­pose of re­duc­ing im­port de­pen­dency or en­cour­ag­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing of med­i­cal de­vices within the coun­try.

Last time when FDI was per­mit­ted in the sec­tor with­out con­di­tions to in­crease man­u­fac­tur­ing within the coun­try, the whole idea got de­feated as for­eign com­pa­nies sim­ply put up mar­ket­ing and trad­ing shops in In­dia with­out cre­at­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing bases. They sim­ply im­ported goods and sold them here, in­creas­ing the coun­try's im­port de­pen­dency. This time too, such things are go­ing to hap­pen. In a let­ter to MoS, com­merce and in­dus­try, Nir­mala Sithara­man, we have de­manded a blan­ket ban on FDI in brown­field projects. For green­field projects, we have de­manded that at least 60 per cent of over­all goods be­ing sold by a for­eign com­pany in In­dia have to be man­u­fac­tured within the coun­try. How big is the med­i­cal de­vice in­dus­try in the coun­try? How much of it is im­ported? The size of the In­dian med­i­cal de­vice mar­ket is nearly ` 30,000 crore. The in­dus­try is ex­pected to grow nearly 10-fold in next 10 years be­cause of in­creased health­care spend­ing, in­come and pop­u­la­tion growth. In­dia's im­port de­pen­dency has been in­creas­ing over the years. In some elec­tronic med­i­cal de­vice seg­ments, it is as high as 90 per cent. What are the ma­jor chal­lenges the in­dus­try is fac­ing? In­dia has the po­ten­tial and where­withal to be­come a global man­u­fac­tur­ing hub for med­i­cal de­vices. Yet, we have be­come im­port de­pen­dent. Some of the is­sues the in­dus­try is fac­ing are ra­tio­nal­i­sa­tion of tax struc­ture, ab­sence of ex­port sub­sti­tu­tion pol­icy, do­mes­tic pref­er­en­tial public pro­cure­ment pol­icy, sep­a­ra­tion of the med­i­cal de­vice sec­tor from drugs and cos­met­ics sec­tor. As a re­sult, a large num­ber of do­mes­tic med­i­cal de­vice man­u­fac­tur­ers have ei­ther shut shop or turned im­porters.

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