The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has kick-started a pilot project named Electronics Repair Services Outsourcing (ERSO) in an effort to make India the repair capital of the world.

India's ERSO industry is likely to fetch up to $20 billion in revenue and also generate millions of jobs over the next five years, the ministry says.

The pilot to test electronics repair outsourcing is being held in Bengaluru and it will be run for a period of three months.

Five companies, namely Flex, Lenovo, CTDI, R-Logic and Aforeserve have volunteered for the pilot. Post the pilot, a detailed assessment will be carried out and modifications made in the process and policy as necessary, the ministry says.

The policy and process changes required for ERSO have been introduced over the last few months by different departments of the government after discussions with the repair industry and are being validated for their efficacy and efficiency through a limited pilot that has been launched, the Centre says.

The pilot project is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment). "The ERSO initiative will be a gamechanger for global environmental sustainability and reiterates India's commitment to the environment and our planet. It will enable extension of device life globally by providing cheap and reliable repair of ICT products for the globe," the government says.

As part of the programme, MeitY, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBIC), Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) & Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change converged with industry to effect transformational policy and process changes that would make India the most attractive repair destination for ICT products globally.

This comes months after the Centre created the 'Right to Repair portal' to protect consumers against planned obsolescence — designing a product with limited life resulting in increasing e-waste. The portal is expected to address the concerns on the price, originality and warranty of spare parts. It also enables consumers to be better informed about the product by mentioning methods to check the authenticity of spare parts and information on the country of origin.

The portal carries information for enabling consumers to self-repair, knowing about authorised repairers and promoting third-party repairers. The portal aims to create an ecosystem for the availability of genuine spare parts for the duration of warranty promised by the manufacturer.

In July 2022, a committee set up by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) identified farming equipment, mobile phones, tablets, consumer durables, automobiles and automobile equipment as important sectors for the Right to Repair framework.

The right to repair has been recognised in many countries across the globe, including the U.S., U.K. and European Union. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission has directed manufacturers to remedy unfair anti-competitive practices and asked them to make sure that consumers can make repairs, either themselves or by a third-party agency. The U.K. has also passed a law that includes all electronic appliance manufacturers to provide consumers with spare parts for getting the repair done either by themselves or by the local repair shops. Australia has repair cafes, free meeting places, where volunteer repairmen gather to share their repairing skills. Further, the European Union passed legislation that required manufacturers to supply parts of products to professional repairmen for a time of 10 years.

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