12th June 2024


India’s First Do Tank linking Tech and Geopolitical Power

Smitha Francis

Dr Smitha Francis (Ph.D. Economics) has been working on policy issues relating to international trade and finance, industrial policy and industrial development, and macroeconomic policy interactions under globalisation for more than 2 decades. Since 2010, she has particularly focused on exploring how different processes of trade and financial liberalisation, including free trade agreements (FTAs), influence national industrialisation processes. Her book Industrial Policy Challenges for India: Global Value Chains and Free Trade Agreements was published in 2019 by Routledge (London, New York and New Delhi). She continues to analyse rarely-studied interfaces between India’s trade and FDI liberalisation and other industrial policies, and the perverse incentives they have generated against domestic innovation and manufacturing in the Indian electronics industry. During her recent tenure as Consultant at the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID), New Delhi, she carried out a major ICSSR-funded project on the nature of Indian electronics industry’s global value chain (GVC) participation. She is among the few Indian economists who has underscored the criticality of an indigenous electronics industry for India’s digital sovereignty since 2018.

Previously, she worked at Economic Research Foundation (ERF), New Delhi, the Secretariat for International Development Economics Associates (www.networkideas.org), and prior to that at the Research and Information Systems (RIS), New Delhi. She has also been a Visiting Faculty at the South Asian University and Ambedkar University, New Delhi. She has been a consultant in several research projects sponsored by national and international agencies. Apart from being an ICSSR Major Research Project Awardee during 2018-2020, she was a Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Research Fellow during 1998-2000.

Some of her recent publications include: ‘Digital Transformations and Structural Exclusion Risks: Towards policy coherence for enabling inclusive trajectories’ in Keshab Das et al eds. The Digitalization Conundrum in India: Applications, Access and Aberrations (Springer); ‘Indian Electronics Industry’s FDI-led GVC Engagement: Theoretical and policy insights from firm-level analysis’ in Sunil Mani ed. India’s Economy and Society (Springer, Forthcoming); ‘Impact of FTAs on India’s Electronics Manufacturing Sector’ in Study on Promoting Electronic Manufacturing in India – An MVIRDC Research Initiative (World Trade Centre, Mumbai); ‘Using the COVID Response to Realign India’s Electronics Supply Chain’ in  COVID-19: Challenges for the Indian Economy – Trade and Foreign Policy Effects (ASEAN-India Centre and EEPC); ‘Impact of Preferential Trade Liberalisation on India’s Manufacturing Sector Trade Performance: An analysis of India’s major trade agreements’, ISID Working Paper (ISID); ‘India’s Electronics Manufacturing Sector: Getting the Diagnosis Right’ (Economic & Political Weekly/EPW); etc.

Some of her recent opinion pieces include: ‘Electronics needs another window’ (with Murali Kallummal, Business Line), ‘The PLI Scheme for Atmanirbhar Bharat: Is there a break with past policies?’ and ‘Why India Needs to Tweak its FDI Rules’ (Madhyam), ‘Free trade pacts: Why India must be wary of signing more’ (Policy Circle); ‘Why waste a crisis? Re-imagining India’s electronics industry’ (with PVG Menon, The Economic Times); RCEP: India must protect its ICT industry (with Murali Kallummal, Business Line); ‘How does RCEP fit in with Make in India’? and ‘To join or not to join RCEP: Is it time for India to look beyond tariff cuts?’ (Financial Express); ‘Digitalisation and the role of the state’ (Business Line); ‘Playing catch-up in the digital economy’ (Business Today); etc.