Information Technology as an Engine of Broad-Based Growth in India
In this paper, we survey some of the developments in India’s IT sector, and prospects for broad-based growth led by this sector. We examine the IT sector, discussing the role of software versus hardware, the growth pattern of the software industry and software exports, and the potential problems in IT labor supply to support future growth. We focus on a current bottleneck for the IT sector, namely the telecommunications infrastructure. Issues considered include the basic driver of technological convergence across voice and data communications, problems with current infrastructure, innovations that have the potential to dramatically alter the economics of access to telecoms, and the evolving structure of the telecoms industry. We also examine the policy environment more closely, arguing that government policy is better focused on removing labor market distortions and infrastructure constraints, rather than providing output or export subsidies to the software industry. We discuss the appropriateness of specific policy goals such as universal access, as well as issues of implementation of more general objectives of broader telecoms access. Finally, we map out the possibilities for broad-based IT-led growth, including increasing value-added, using better telecom links to capture more benefits domestically through offshore development for industrial country firms, greater spillovers to the local economy, broadening the IT industry with production of telecom access devices, improving the functioning of the economy through a more extensive and denser communications network, and improving governance.
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