New Delhi/ Gurugram: Digital Economy in India must offer choice to the consumers, sustain the competition in the marketplace and foster innovation, according to global and Indian experts while speaking at a webinar to launch the Initiative on Choice, Competition and Innovation (ICCI) under the aegis of Centre for The Digital Future (CDF).

“It’s reasonable to have a first pass at targeting the largest firms and focusing on specific problems”, said Professor Jaques Cremer of Toulouse School of Economics. Taking cognizance of the changing paradigm brought about digital innovations, he added “Many other regulations and laws also affect the digital sector.” Hence, thoughtful implementation is the key, he concluded.

Drawing upon research on evolution of innovation ecosystems nurtured by corporates, Professor Ashish Arora of Duke University urged the Indian policymakers to create conducive conditions for creating an innovation culture such that “investment in technology pay off more than other type of investments.”

Dr Derek Ritzmann, Director, Economics Partners, averred that most attributes of the digital platforms like the network effects and gatekeeping are not entirely novel concepts or phenomena. He added that economies of scale could be both positive or negative, depending on the specific context.

Dr Gregor Langus Director, E.CA Economics underscored the importance of investment in standardization as a competitive advantage, as seen in Europe’s success in mobile telephony technology and equipment. He added that while adopting “me-too” measures is easy, the enforcement varies a lot across jurisdictions.

Dr Payal Malik, Advisor, Economics, Competition Commission of India (CCI) asserted that the competion law is robust and flexible to deal with the challenges of the Digital Economy. She added that “Ambiguity has to be internalized in the assessment of conduct and any antitrust policy which focuses on market activity should be backed by a clear economic analysis of the likely effects.”

Former Member of the CCI Dr Geeta Gouri supported the concept of ‘Different Folks, Different Strokes’ by contextualising CCI’s rapid maturity by leveraging the legal provisions to deal with the evolving scenarios, particularly pertaining to mergers. She added that while India does look at other jurisdictions, CCI’s unique approach must be seen in the context of political economy, socio-cultural diversity and digital adoption primarily by way of mobile phones.

Dr Chirantan Chaatterjee of IIM Ahmedabad pointed out the need to create deeper research linkages across academia and industry to realise the benefits of public-private partnerships.

R Chandrashekhar, chairperson of CDF and former Secretary, Telecom & IT and President, NASSCOM had chaired the discussion during the inaugural session held on 29 July featuring keynote by Mr. Ashok Kumar Gupta, Chairman, Competition Commission of India (CCI). Other distinguished speakers included Dr. Vijay Kelkar, former Chairman, Finance Commission and former Finance Secretary and Dr. R A Mashelkar, former Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Ms. Shilpa Kumar, Partner, Omidyar Network India.

Dr Shubhashis Gangopadhyay, Vice-Chairperson, CDF; Mr. Deepak Maheshwari, Senior Fellow, CDF and Dr. Nishant Chadha, Head of Research, CDF moderated the respective panel discussions.

CDF’s ICCI is meant to serve as a platform to encourage thought processes aimed at enhancing discussions around the subjects of choice for consumer and user benefits, competition within and across sectors, and innovation as seen by entry of new products, services and players across the digital economy and linking high-value outputs with pragmatic implementation of solutions to challenges.

CDF is an autonomous entity within the India Development Foundation (IDF), a private non-profit research organisation.

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