Can Cybersecurity Help India Build a $5 Trillion Economy?Enhanced Investments and Boost in Product Exports Will Fuel the Growth
India has set a lofty goal of building its gross domestic product to $5 trillion by 2024, nearly double the current $2.8 trillion economy. If the cybersecurity sector can rapidly expand, it could play a role in fueling economic growth.
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The National Association of Software and Services Companies, better known as NASSCOM, has predicted that the Indian cybersecurity market could grow to as much as $35 billion and create 1 million new jobs by 2025. But is that realistic?
Growing India's cybersecurity sector would require several steps including more investments in security by government and private Indian organizations, more development of start-up companies and more exports of Indian cybersecurity products and services by encouraging indigenous manufacturing.
At a recent event, the nation's cybersecurity coordinator, Lt. Gen (Retired) Rajesh Pant, noted, according to PTI: "India's cybersecurity strategy policy will be released in January 2020, which will enable the government to cyber secure the nation. This will enhance the government's vision of a $5 trillion economy to a great extent."
Growing India's cybersecurity sector would require several steps. That includes more investments in security by government and private Indian organizations, more development of start-up companies and more exports of Indian cybersecurity products and services by encouraging indigenous manufacturing.
Need for Partnerships
Pant believes a public-private partnership model will drive the necessary cybersecurity product innovation, helping to protect critical infrastructure and grow the economy.
He also hinted that the new cybersecurity strategy to be rolled out early next year might require organizations to invest a certain percentage of their revenue in cybersecurity.
The Data Security Council of India recommends the government create a dedicated fund of $143 million over three years for grants to the private sector and academia to support cybersecurity research.
Meanwhile, former President Pranab Mukherjee says exports should constitute one-third of the government's $5 trillion economy target. And clearly, cybersecurity product and service exports could play a role.
The government of India should use more security products from domestic companies to help resolve cybersecurity issues through innovation. And encouraging domestic cybersecurity production could spur job growth, just as the boom in service outsourcing led to a surge in local IT jobs.
A Realistic Approach
DSCI is working with the government to develop ways to encourage the creation of start-up companies as well as methods for training more workers with the necessary cybersecurity and privacy skills
And it's good to hear that the government is moving forward with initial steps to require the use of domestic products in the defense and aerospace sectors - the latest in a series of steps to boost the use of Indian security products (see: Government's Cybersecurity Indigenization Push).
Meanwhile, Ajay Kumar, additional secretary, Ministry of Defense, recently told me that the Defense Research and Development Organization is working on a policy under which domestic companies - including those offering cybersecurity technologies and services - will be given preference when the government awards contracts.
Sahir Hidayatullah, CEO at Smokescreen, an Indian security company that spends millions in research and development, suggests that the government should also provide companies tax benefits, via subsidies, to help them cater to domestic needs or build volumes that can also drive exports.
Taking multiple steps to help build up the domestic cybersecurity industry could play an important role in growing the Indian economy. The government should consider all reasonable options for helping local firms complete with international brands.