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All you need to know about India's new software policy

March 08, 2019 08:30 IST

The policy proposes a single-window platform for facilitation of the Indian software product industry, to help fast-track legal and regulatory issues over import and export, as well as setting up and winding up enterprises.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

The National Policy on Software Products has proposed setting up a registry for such companies that will be integrated with the government’s e-marketplace (GeM).

The policy, a copy of which was seen by Business Standard, has proposed creating an Indian software product registry through industry ownership.

 

This will be a common pool, creating a trusted trade environment.

The registry will be integrated with the GeM and will also provide necessary handholding for marketing.

Under the policy, the government will establish a National Software Product Mission (NSPM).

This will be housed in the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) under a joint secretary, with participation from the government, academia and industry.

It has also proposed a single-window platform for facilitation of the Indian software product industry.

This will help fast-track legal and regulatory issues over import and export, as well as setting up and winding up enterprises.

“Indian software product companies will be allowed to set off tax payable… on investments made (on an accrued basis) in R&D of indigenous software products,” the policy said.

The software industry has welcomed the move.

Think tank iSPIRT has been working with the government to boost the software product industry, which is essentially service driven.

“A strategic shift or focus to ‘product’ was long awaited. We have all the competitive advantage to get on a second wave in software exports, especially in segment such as software as a service,” said Sudhir Singh, fellow at iSPIRT.

Product software is designed to be sold. Users pay for a licence.

Software products accounted for 22.2 per cent of total information technology exports during the financial year 2017-18.

According to IT industry body Nasscom Strategic Review 2017, the global software product industry is estimated to be $ 413 billion.

The contribution of software products in Indian IT-ITeS revenue is just $ 7.1 billion, of which $ 2.3 billion are exports.

The import of software products into India is estimated to be nearly $ 10 billion.

Nasscom has also welcomed the introduction of the policy.

“The policy recommendations are aligned to Nasscom’s suggestions on sectoral software product development clusters, talent accelerator programs and the initiative to nurturing of software products start-ups,” it said.

The policy said product software start-ups as well medium and small enterprises will be “encouraged to develop solutions for Smart Cities, healthcare, agriculture, e-learning, transport, fin-tech and addressing social challenges, such as, bridging digital divide, gender inequality, empowering the less privileged citizens and divyangjans”.

It has also proposed special focus on Indian software products in international trade development programmes.

The policy will be implemented by MeitY, along with its departments such as the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), National Informatics Centre (NIC), and industry bodies for higher education and research.

Neha Alawadhi in New Delhi
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