Officials not keen on bending the rules for Apple

General

The government is planning to undertake a pilot project to upgrade 150 district offices of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) during 2017-18, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Thursday, adding that the ministry would also develop a training module for the NIC officials to keep pace with ever-evolving technologies.

This comes right after smartphone giant Apple had asked for certain concessions while setting up manufacturing units in the country.

There is a difference in the stand of officials, some faction of officials say that it would be unfair to those companies who are already working in India if Apple Inc's long list of demand is accepted by the Indian government.

This would atleast meet some of the demands that Apple has made apart from benefiting other phone makers as well.

During his visit to the country a year ago, Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook had said India was the next big market for the company. "We will very much like Apple to come and have a base in India", Prasad said.

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India is a huge potential market for Apple, with its large population and growing middle class meaning that it is likely to eventually become the company's second biggest market.

He announced a limit of $1.5 billion on the amount of subsidy the government provided under the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS) created to boost electronics manufacturing. Many believe that this could greatly reduce the total cost of Apple devices manufactured in India. Apple in a letter to India said that India needs to make an "attractive environment" for it to start manufacturing here.

Concessions include a 15-year holiday on customs duty, relaxed labelling norms and duty-free imports on spare parts and used captial goods.

Apple's Chief Executive Tim Cook met PM Modi last May to talk about its plans to enter the Indian manufacturing and retail space.

China's labour cost has increased significantly, prompting multinationals' to prefer India, she said.

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