NEW DELHI: A day after mandating a licensing regime for the import of laptops, tablets and personal computers, the government on Friday decided to give a “transition period” for companies to migrate to the new regime, amid fears that the curbs could limit supplies in the market and push up prices.

Minister of State for IT & Electronics Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that a notification regarding the relaxation of norms would be issued soon. “There will be a transition period for this to be put into effect which will be notified soon.”
The government stepped into damage control mode as top companies such as Samsung, Apple and the others were forced to stop shipments into the country as they needed a license from Friday to keep the supply chain going. The government had given a notice of less than 12 hours before putting in place the new regime, which is facing flak from several quarters.

The minister’s comments came following discomfort in sections of the industry as well as on the social media that the government was trying to drive in a licensing regime through the “ad-hoc decision” which would abruptly force the companies to change their sourcing plans for India.
Chandrasekhar denied any such intentions. “This is not at all about license raj. It is about regulating imports to ensure trusted and verifiable systems AND ensuring India tech eco-system uses trusted and verified systems only that are imported and/or domestically manufactured trusted systems / products,” he said through his Twitter handle.
A senior official in the IT Ministry said that while the government wants to encourage top computer and tablet companies to invest in India, the new regime will not prohibit them from engaging in imports through licenses.
“The government will rather extend support during the transition, and goods in transit will not be impacted,” the official said, adding that the director general of foreign trade (DGFT) will issue licenses “within minutes”.
“DGFT will issue clarification that there is no restriction on the number of products, quantum of imports, or number of licenses per entity,” the official said.
The ministry has already reached out to the companies regarding the extension. “This will also give time to the companies to apply for licenses.”
The official also said that DGFT will clarify modalities for rejection of application for license whenever such a decision will be taken.
Within naming China directly, the official said in view of increasing instances of cyberattacks, India needs to take “preventive measures” to ensure that shipments from a particular geography are countered.
“With the expansion of the internet and more and more Indians coming online, the possibility of citizens being exposed to user harm and criminality has also increased. Various incidents of cybersecurity threats have also been reported. The in-built security loopholes like hardware backdoors and firmware malware in IT hardware may be potentially endangering sensitive personal and enterprise data,” the official said, adding that providing secure hardware is the foundation for security.

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