Digital waste recycling: How to get a start in India

The biggest reason India’s IT sector is failing to catch up to its neighbours is its reliance on outdated technology and a lack of the latest and most sophisticated technology to manage it, says Anil Singh, head of the Indian Institute of Technology, Ahmedabad.

Singh says that it is not just the lack of new technology that is hindering Indian IT, but also the government’s refusal to provide incentives to get IT systems out of the ground.

He cites the case of a company called Digital Asset Management Pvt Ltd (DAM) that started operations in 2013, only to be shut down a year later due to legal action.

According to Singh, DAM had a number of products that would have been worth more than $3 billion today.

“The problem is that India does not have a competitive market, or a reliable market to invest in, and so there are no incentives to buy these products,” he says.

“The market for digital technology is very fragmented.

If the government is not providing incentives to invest, then it will be difficult for India to make investments in these technologies.”

The lack of incentives, however, has not stopped India’s government from encouraging companies to start digital recycling programs.

In September this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a digital recycling drive that has seen thousands of companies start recycling their computers, including some that had never even attempted to do so.

The move came after several governments had begun offering incentives for companies to collect their digital waste and then move the waste to recycling centers.

According in a report by the Indian Council for Science, India has about 1,300 recycling centers across the country and the government has allocated about $2 billion to fund such programs.

But the initiative has not come without its detractors, who say the government needs to look at incentives that encourage companies to get rid of their digital devices rather than the ones that cause the biggest environmental impact.

“It is not about incentives, it is about ensuring the environment and human rights are protected,” says Ankit Kaul, a researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Development, Bangalore.

“I am very hopeful that this initiative will lead to a real reduction in the use of digital waste.”

As India gears up to host the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, it also faces the challenge of convincing companies to accept and recycle their digital products.

According the International Trade Centre (ITC), the global industry body, India currently imports about $1.4 billion worth of digital devices annually.

But it is a daunting task for India, which is home to just 1.3 million IT professionals.

“There are about 40,000 people who work in IT in India, and there are only 20,000 of them who are able to use technology in a productive way,” says Ashish Kulkarni, CEO of IT Centre for Development, a non-profit group that helps companies get their digital recycling operations going.

“We are still struggling with this challenge, and we need to be careful about how we are talking about it,” Kulkarki adds.

India has been trying to get companies to take a more proactive approach to recycling their waste.

Earlier this year the government introduced a pilot program in Bengaluru to ensure that companies get rid all of their mobile phones, tablets and other devices by March 31, 2020.

In a statement, the government said the move was meant to ensure the government “does not leave behind any legacy.”

The move is not without its critics.

“India’s digital waste collection is a major waste-disposal problem, and I do not want it to continue,” said Suresh Nair, an advocate with the Centre of Electronic Policy Research.

“If we are to reduce waste, we need a new paradigm, not just a different approach.

This has to be the right way, not the wrong way.”

According to Singh and others, the focus should be on getting rid of those that cause most waste.

“We should start with digital waste, because it is the one most responsible for our environment and health,” he argues.

“Otherwise we will continue to be dependent on this one sector.”

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