From its previous stance ‘banning cryptocurrency is not the most constructive measure’ to ‘let’s look at the positive sides…’ tech industry body NASSCOM appears to have shifted its view on the Indian government’s ‘policy in progress’ on cryptocurrencies.
Talking about India’s policies pertaining to cryptocurrency on the sidelines of NASSCOM Product Conclave 2019, Ashish Aggarwal, head of public policy at NASSCOM, said, “Let’s look at the positive sides. If you just look at the software product policy itself, you need to do exactly what the ecosystem requires. And we need to see in the next one or two years what kind of work can be done to support the ecosystem. In 2019, if you look at it, India is a great place for tech startups.”
He added that the current policy developments for crypto is just the beginning. “SEBI or the capital market regulator is actually working proactively on easing out the norms. And the process has been going on for the last 1-2 years,” Aggarwal added.
It’s worth noting that the interministerial committee instituted by the Narendra Modi government recommended a complete ban on cryptocurrencies in India in July. The IMC had also presented a draft ‘Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill 2019’ which is supposed to be introduced in the Parliament this Winter Session.
Criticising the report, NASSCOM had said at the time that it believed the government’s approach “is not the most constructive measure“. But in the time since then, NASSCOM seems to have changed its stance. Aggarwal added, “I think, you will have to look in totality… One of the big things from the government’s side is also about ensuring that the tech industry that grows in India, stays in India. So, from that perspective, lots of stuff has actually improved.”
“On the side of crypto, globally, the regulatory regime is yet to emerge. And what India has done is ask banks not to deal on the cryptocurrency, not the other manifestations of cryptocurrency technology. The legal framework for crypto is yet to evolve.”
Aggarwal added that there is a consensus that blockchain needs to be promoted and regulated. So the next step is understanding how that can be done with or without cryptocurrency.
Economic Slowdown Hasn’t Impacted Indian Tech Startups
As NASSCOM launched its annual report on Indian tech startup ecosystem trends, the question on everyone’s mind was whether the recent economic slowdown has adversely impacted the Indian tech startup ecosystem.
Speaking at the press conference, NASSCOM president Debjani Ghosh said, “Thankfully, we haven’t seen much of an impact on tech startup ecosystem. We are cautiously optimistic. If you look back in history, every time there is a recession, people have increased their investments in technology. Every recession will tell you the same story. Right now, we haven’t seen a big impact on the tech startup ecosystem.”
She added that the focus of stakeholders has to be on reskilling people so that they are employable for the fast-emerging deeptech sector and other new-age tech needs. “We have re-skill people for new jobs. That’s the goal. We have to ensure that we reskill people on steroids. It should be India’s number one priority. New jobs are getting created just as fast. We are not reskilling people fast enough… we have to ensure that it is India’s biggest priority.”
Update: November 06, 2019 | 16:40
- Added supporting links for NASSCOM’s statements on cryptocurrency policy in India in paragraph #5.
- Removed links attributing Data Security Council Of India’s statements on e-cigarettes content to NASSCOM, and removed references to NASSCOM stance on e-cigarettes. NASSCOM clarified to Inc42 that while the DSCI is a NASSCOM initiative, the DSCI had released a statement criticising the ban on content related to e-cigarettes, vaping and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). NASSCOM added that it has no comments on the e-cigarette ban in India.