With the objective of increasing the manufacturing of electronic devices in the country, the union government has announced restrictions on the import of such items. In a notification dated 3rd August issued by The Directorate General of Foreign Trade under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the govt restricted the import of laptops, tablets, other personal computers and servers with immediate effect.
Following this announcement, some social media users, who seem to believe in Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that everything that the Modi government does is done to benefit some industrialists, started to peddle a conspiracy theory on social media. They tried to link with the recent launch of JioBook by Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, which was announced on 31st July.
One such tweet by one Neha Sagar said, “Aug. 1: Jio launched their laptop “Jiobook” at 16,499 Aug. 3: Govt restricted the import of laptops, tablets, and computers. Aap chronology samajhiye”.
Aug. 1: Jio launched their laptop “Jiobook” at 16,499
Aug. 3: Govt restricted the import of laptops, tablets, and computers.
Aap chronology samajhiye 😅
— Neha Nagar (@nehanagarr) August 3, 2023
Similar tweets were posted by many others, essentially claiming that the import of laptops and other devices has been restricted to benefit Reliance Industries as it will mean an increase in the sale of made-in-India devices.
Event : Reliance Jio launched its Jio-Book 3 days ago
Action : The Modi government restricts imports of laptops of foreign brands.
Hum sidha Ambani ko PM kyu nahi bana sakte? https://t.co/XorZZ2keRL
— Roshan Rai (@RoshanKrRaii) August 3, 2023
Jio released its new laptop.💻
Govt imposes curbs on import of laptops, tablets, computers. 💻
— CMA Venkatesh Alla (@alla_cma) August 3, 2023
— Finance Memes (@Qid_Memez) August 3, 2023
These social media users assumed that JioBook is made in India, and therefore it will benefit from the recent decision. One Twitter user claimed that govt of India is not even hiding its alleged support for JioBook.
You cannot make this up. India restricting import of laptops, tablets and PCs the same week as JioBook goes on sale. They aren’t even hiding it, are they?
— Arjun* (@mxtaverse) August 3, 2023
— Alok Jain ⚡ (@WeekendInvestng) August 3, 2023
In a bid to accuse the Modi government of taking the decision to benefit Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance, these social media users, many of whom are related to the finance sector, missed a crucial detail. And that is, JioBook will be one of the products affected by the restriction on imports, and therefore the Reliance group company will be negatively impacted.
This is because JioBook is not made in India, it is actually made in China. The restriction will mostly impact China, as most electronic devices are made in China.
The Amazon page for JioBook shows that the device is made by Chinese company Hunan Greatwall Computer System Co. Ltd at its plant in Zhuzhou in Hunan Province. Other e-commerce sites selling the device, including Reliance Digital, also mention the same data, that it is made by Hunan Greatwall in China. Gadgetnow lists Reliance Retail as the importer of JioBook.
This means that decision to restrict the import of computers will also impact JioBook. Moreover, while the govt order gives exemptions to laptops and other computers for specific purposes, like R&D, testing, product development etc, it is unlikely that JioBooks will be imported by anyone for these purposes.
The order issued on 3rd August restricts the import of laptops, tablets, all-in-one personal computers, and ultra-small factor computers and servers.
It is notable that JioBook is not a full-fledged computer, it is an Android device, like the Google Chromebook. The JioBook runs JioOS, an Android fork. It runs on a Mediatek Processor, not Intel or AMD, and has specifications much lower than standard laptops. Such Android based computers are mostly used for web-based applications and content consumption, and they are not replacements for full-fledged computers that run Windows, macOS or Linux.
Therefore, after imported computers become unavailable in India, it will not result in an increase in sales of JioBook, even if it is made in India. This will benefit companies that already make computes in India, including both Indian companies and MNCs. It is notable that several global majors like Dell, HP, Acer, Lenovo etc already manufacture laptops and other computers in India, either in their own factories or through contract manufacturers. The restriction will mean that these companies will have to increase their Indian production to cater to the local market, while companies without made-in-India products will be impacted.
Reliance will have to find an Indian manufacturer for JioBook, and till then they can’t sell the devices, perhaps apart from the stock already imported. The company already gets Jio Phones made in India, which was also initially made in China. But essentially, while most computer manufacturers make some of their products in India and their business will continue, JioBook business will stop until they are started to be made in India. Setting up a line for JioBook by a manufacturer in India may take some time.
This means JioBook will be one of the worst affected products of the govt decision to restrict imports, it is not getting any benefits as alleged by many.
Another major company to be affected will be Apple, as it does not make Macbooks and iPads in India, only iPhones are manufactured in India.