Why IT hardware and smart phones should be on essential services?
Looking at the way most of India has adopted the Work From Home culture, hardware availability and maintenance is the next big challenge facing everyone.
The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) is now urging the Home Ministry to allow sale of mobile phones, laptops, desktops, storage devices and other related products. This would mean the following items need to be first included in the “essential goods” category
Electronics and IT Secretary Ajay Sawhney has also suggested that the manufacturing of IT components should be resumed in order to support the supply of spare parts that would be used mostly by people working from home.
Owing to the fact that PM Narendra Modi has initiated a 5 point scheme where one of the points is the need for adaptability and entrepreneurs move towards digital selling platforms, one can look at the sale of more than required number of mobile phones. Including mobile phones, therefore in the essential category will allow e-commerce companies as well as retail stores to sell such devices during the lockdown.
It is worth noting that India is essentially a large mobile user base both in urban and regional set ups. Around 97 per cent of broadband connections in the country even today are accessed through mobile devices, according to data published by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai).
Industry body India Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) is known to have approached MeitY and the Home Ministry as well to discuss the sales and repair of mobile devices and bring to focus a fact that as this acts as vital support for many activities currently. This includes work from home, connectivity, emergency services, coronavirus patient services etc during the lockdown.
While mobile recharge and top ups are being allowed under the essential goods category, the sale of cheap smart phones has still not be brought under the essential services. After the government has made it mandatory to use the Aarogya Setu, ICEA further feels that a lot of Indians are still not able to make use of the application or keep in touch with their loved ones, in case their phone does not work and needs repair. This will act like an emotional and psychological support and must be allowed under essential goods and services.