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ETSA 2021: India will lead the charge on new tech like Web 3.0 & metaverse, says Rajeev Chandrasekhar

Bengaluru: India will definitely lead the charge on capitalizing on the business opportunity emerging from next-generation technologies such Web 3.0 and the Metaverse, said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and Electronics and IT.

Newer opportunities also extend into electronics, deep tech to quantum computing among others, the minister said speaking at the seventh edition of the ET Startup Awards 2021 event held in Bengaluru today.

“If you’re a dispassionate observer of nations, India is today one of pre-eminent countries in using technology and being at the forefront of innovation. We will be leading the charge into Web 3 and all of the innovations around the Internet.. .,” he said at an interactive session with ET’s Surabhi Agarwal.

Referring to prime minister Narendra Modi’s speech about the “Techade” Chandrasekhar said the whole push into innovation in India will be delivered by improvements in the fields of electronics and system design, semiconductors, Artificial Intelligence, deep technology, and quantum computing.

India had announced a semiconductor policy late last year, offering incentives for investment in the manufacturing of chips. The minister said the push towards a holistic innovation economy also stems from a global search to find alternatives to China’s domination in these areas.

On the several issues around the data protection policy and frameworks being deliberated by the Centre, the minister sought to assure the business community that the policymakers would ensure the rules don’t become roadblocks: “We will not do anything knee jerk or even remotely as a speed bump to retard the momentum in the startup ecosystem today.

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Speaking of the startup ecosystem, Chandrasekhar said the Indian community has come a long way from the position before 2014, with the government creating an enabling environment for startups to thrive. The Minister quoted a Credit Suisse report to drive home the point that access to capital in the Indian business system has grown enormously. “The Government will keep expanding these opportunities.”

On a related question about the rush of startup IPOs and the subsequent fall in the share price of some of these companies, Chandrasekhar said companies should diversify their sources of funding, and hitting the public markets is a tested route.

Chandrasekhar said the government’s push for Aadhaar and dovetailing it with the Unified Payments Interface has spawned a fintech economy that is bursting at its seams now: “This model of government accelerating the digital-to-citizen interface has been a tremendous force multiplier for the ecosystem .”

On concerns around lack of clarity in categorizing companies under the data protection law framework, the minister said the reality of policymaking around data protection is “somewhere in between” having no protection for the privacy of the individual and having an absolutist outlook on privacy.

On the uncertainty over cryptocurrency and the government’s decision to launch a digital currency, Chandrasekhar said broadly that buyers of cryptocurrency should be mindful to make the purchases through an RBI-approved route and make sure they do not run afoul of FEMA and other regulations.

The seventh edition of the awards held today in Bengaluru recognized food delivery, dining and restaurant discovery service Zomato as The Startup of the Year 2021. Sanjeev Bikchandini of Info Edge bagged the Midas Touch award under the high-profile investor category, while Lizzie Chapman of ZestMoney was given the Woman Ahead award at the event today.

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