There are many manufacturing excellence in India pre Make in India era but in ICT manufacturing it is really handful. But those organizations who started the initiative 15-20 years back were very courageous to do so against the non-friendly taxation policy, environment policy and labour law.
A progressive modern India does not only owe to the contribution of the large companies into manufacturing, trading but also owe a lot to the myriads of small – and mid – size companies as well. These small and medium companies are responsible for employing a large pool of skilled and unskilled manpower, which is the biggest challenge. Even their contribution to the GDP of the country is quite substantial. Their go to market and servicing capability is much better than that of some of the large companies because of their nimbleness and small size. And the good trait of these companies is that the entrepreneurs behind these organizations do not wait for government patronage. They try to create the organization with a passion, enthusiasm and self-motivation to contribute to the growth of the country and employ some people to lead healthy and respectful life. Because of their passion, they excel in their business and, this is at least applicable to the ICT manufacturing in the country.
There are many manufacturing companies like SmartLink, which has been manufacturing in the country for a long time. Similarly, Cyberoam is another company which got acquired by Sophos now, manufactures and develops products out of Ahmedabad. Another very successful company is Pantel Technologies, which is into manufacturing of mobility devices including phones – be it smart phones or feature phones and tablets.
Not only has this company established itself in India as a major mobility player challenging some of the global mights and domestic vendors but also has presence in overseas locations including Africa, GCC and South Asian countries.
Today, Pantel is working with Mauritius Telecom to bridge digital divide in the region by offering the devices at an affordable price point. Similarly, Pantel is also working with BSNL in India to enable the rural customers who are not able to access the basic telephony and data communication. In this alliance the Penta T- Pads are coming bundled with BSNL -3G data services. The vision of Vijender Singh, Managing Director of Pantel Technologies is to revolutionize the way people access content or information on the move, increase productivity, access smart learning modules to promote better education, easy and clear collation of data in everyday tasks in banking, healthcare and other citizen centric services, etc.
Pantel works very strongly with Intel on the platform side and Microsoft on OS side along with other global mobile platform vendors including ARM and Android on the software side.
Vijender says, “Our objective is to provide affordable devices to the customers who are not able to access and afford devices as those are very expensive. And if there is, any new technology coming to the market, we will be the first to bring it to the market at the best price for those customers.”
“When a vendor launches a new model of the smart phone or tablet in the market, he charges the premium price and it becomes affordable after 2-3 years but we launch devices with the same configuration at a very affordable price point from the day of launch,” he adds.
Some time back Pantel had also launched Windows based Tablets at an affordable price point. Basically, Vijender wants to make the devices so affordable that the real India which lies in villages and suburbs can purchase those devices without compromising their essential expenses. That is the reason his initiative of ‘Bharat’ phones along with BSNL is quite a successful one.
Similarly, Pantel has already launched 4G devices in 7- inch category at a price point of Rs.6999, which is quite affordable, whereas other vendors are announcing to launch affordable 4G phones for a long time but they have not been successful as yet.
In the 3G category, the company has launched sub Rs.4000 devices with HD panel, which no competition has ever done so far. Even the company is pondering over launching hybrid devices which can function as laptops and Tabs at a price point of Rs.9999 with decent configuration of 3GB or 2GB RAM and 32GB storage. This is probably coming on the platforms of Intel and Microsoft.
Specially focussed for the education segment, with downloadable content from NCERT, Pantel is launching products at a price point of Rs.2999. Even this initiative is a dream project for the Government of India. Today if one imagines, a good printed study material / book can cost anywhere between Rs.500-Rs.1500, but a Tab at Rs.2999 is an excellent choice with all study materials.
Vijender adds, “Apart from these domestic initiatives, we are also enabling the customers in France where we are working with Orange Telecom and offering devices co-branded as Orange Penta. So also working in Botswana, Mauritius, Swaziland, etc. by entering into an MOU with MTN Africa. We would start delivering devices from early next month as we had started this initiative last year.”
He claims that most of the students under Mauritius Government carry Penta tab, which is of 10.1” form factor with loaded course material, which the company’s in-house developer team is able to do including class room management, learning management system (LMS), etc. He added, “We have delivered around 27,000 of units in this country against the population of 1.2 million in this country.”
In India as per Vijender, Pantel is the largest tablet selling company with a volume sales of 100,000 per month. The company is selling though a battery of operators including DGS&D (to Government), retailers, TV shopping programme including Homeshop 18 and e-commerce sites.
In the recent past, Pantel supplied 3G devices to the irrigation department of UP Government, trade tax department of Uttaranchal Government, department of Panchayati Raj in Odisha under MGNREGA initiative. The company has also delivered devices to the food and supply department in Government of Tamil Nadu. Vijender proudly says that Pantel is also helping in digitising the Government departments in order to do away with corruption due to the paper based documentation process.
Pantel has created and nurtured a very good in-house application developer team which is capable enough to develop and customise applications required for various departments and various verticals.
The Bharat phone from Pantel which costs only Rs.2000 available with 2000 minutes talk time from BSNL is being delivered to the rural consumers primarily through department of Post. Further, Pantel is launching smart phones at the price of Rs.1999 in 4-inches form factor.
All the devices that Pantel markets and sells are all made in India by their own facility in Roorkee, Uttarakhand. In fact, this facility has the capacity to scale up production upto 300,000 per month. Although the company’s manufacturing is happening on the SKD level now but from January 2016 the company is confident of doing it in CKD level reason being now the Government has activated its Make in India programme under which all the parameters in the component level manufacturing can be compliant and components availability will be streamlined. This is more for the reason of putting India’s economic growth on fast track mode. As per him China will always remain as a challenge for Indian manufacturing but unless India develops its own manufacturing sector, the country as a whole cannot grow soon.
Vijender added, “Unless we do manufacturing in mass scale and export to the global market we cannot earn good dollars and we cannot make our currency strong against dollar or any other currency. And if any business man does not work from this perspective then his country can never be progressive. As such we have no botheration from any point but as we start CKD level manufacturing, our engagement level will certainly be escalated and we are ready for that for the interest of the country.”
A modest Vijender Singh says, “Our motto is that we would not earn huge margin but we would enable the rural customers and support the Government of India’s dream of making digital India a reality. At the same time, we will ensure that the livelihood of our 500 employees run smoothly.”
He added, “We cherish a dream of gaining 40 per cent market share in India in mobility segment which is 20-22 per cent now. And we will intensify our activities in 30 countries where we present actively.”
The company has also started manufacturing PCs under the name of Penta which is basically going to the Government sector under the DGS&D rate contract, so also to BFSI and Railways. As the digital India campaign is aiming at making every citizen enabled with Tabs or smart phones, Pantel’s initiative is certainly a shot in the arm.
The company is also diversifying into manufacturing LED bulbs and the company will provide the bulb at the cost of Rs.59.
The vision of the company is not to have some billion dollar cash reserve but to see how many people can really be benefited. Vijender Singh, the Managing Director of Pantel Technologies has already received the Governor’s award in Lucknow for the manufacturing. The company is of Rs.200 crore revenue this year and next year the company is looking at doubling the number.