A tiny state in the Middle East, barely six per cent of the size of Mumbai, is hinging its major economic growth on cornering at least USD 500 billion of the metaverse market globally.
India can easily lead this global market if the government brings its focus on the sector in the current budget just as it had done with the Startup India mission several years ago that spurred the startup boom, and the resultant century of unicorns.
The metaverse industry is expected to be a very significant market in the near future with some experts estimating it to be in several trillions of dollars.
A whole range of industries including healthcare, entertainment, gaming and education will be impacted by the metaverse, which is a concept that refers to a collective virtual shared space, created by the convergence of physical and virtual reality.
There are multiple ways India can make use of the metaverse. Educational reforms can be speeded up and give students immersive learning with virtual classrooms that are futuristic and tools that are almost real.
Virtual medical clinics can solve the issue of the physical presence of doctors in remote rural areas. Training on community medicine and emergency medicine can happen easily with metaverse for scaling up, which can reduce the cost of expensive medical education.
In business and commerce, virtual marketplaces and exchanges can function better with metaverse and global commerce can expand, with consumers shopping and paying with avatars in a much better retail environment. Businesses are already using the WowMeet tools for board meetings with avatars.
India has a rich cultural heritage and it can be preserved and showcased with metaverse as is already done for Puri Temple. Incredible Indian tourism and virtual tours would drive more tourists to India and drive forex income.
Museums can be recreated in the metaverse so it is accessible to many more. India should embrace the gaming industry in a big way with a better experience in AR/VR/XR. If Finland is proud of over 250 gaming companies, India can easily beat that with its wonderful homegrown talent. These are just a few examples of endless possibilities.
What does it mean for the Indian economy? The metaverse has the potential to create new economic opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs through the creation of new markets, channels and new revenue streams.
This will also lead to creating the much-required new jobs in VR, 3D modelling and gaming, which in turn will spice up education reforms and more skill-oriented courses.
Tourism, healthcare, medical tourism, and even the current government’s ancient cultural preservation agenda can be met much better and efficiently with the metaverse. India can leverage its talent to collaborate and partner with other countries, entities and universities in a much more efficient way.
Investing in the metaverse now can help India to take advantage of the opportunities the technology offers and to be a leader in the field, rather than a follower.
Furthermore, it can be beneficial for India to invest in metaverse infrastructure and research to position itself as a hub for metaverse innovation and development.
Herein lies the opportunity for India and it can capture a major share of the global market and claim a leadership position by leveraging the following:
Talent pool: Time to drive the metaverse tech to create a skilled workforce that can take on the global market. Investing in government universities and research institutions will encourage private participants to pitch in with more.
Metaverse infrastructure: Expanding the 5G network and building incubators with AR/VR tech capabilities will accelerate the capacity building for global markets. Learn from Finland’s experience and blatantly copy/paste.
Entrepreneurial mindset: The momentum created by Startup India for entrepreneurialism can be further boosted with incentives for innovation and new tech initiatives, easy access to tech and related support.
Existing strengths such as diversity and cultural heritage: India has a rich cultural heritage and it can leverage this heritage to create unique and engaging content for the metaverse. Additionally, India has a large pool of gaming and animation talent, which can be leveraged to create engaging content for the metaverse.
Strong regulation: Create a regulatory framework early for the metaverse industry before Europe and the USA to ensure the safety, security and privacy of users for the world to take it as a benchmark.
It is the right time for the finance ministry to consider metaverse as a new initiative for the budget, In fact, it would be a wonderful idea for the FM to hold this budget in metaverse to start with and give an immersive experience for the entire parliament.
Here are a few suggestions for the finance minister to drive the metaverse industry and boost the economy before the 2024 elections:
Encourage research and development: Allocate funds for R&D in metaverse tech to help build a strong foundation for the industry,
Provide tax incentives: Both for new metaverse players and for the early birds like the WowExp folks who were the first to get into this tech in India. Just as India did for startups, extending early credit and incubation facilities for metaverse ventures. Just as MSME initiatives, push for large companies to adapt metaverse offerings.
Allocate resources to create a metaverse development fund: This fund can support the development of metaverse-related initiatives and solve the early-stage funding hassles for entrepreneurs and tech talent.
Provide for metaverse infrastructure development: Allocate funds for high-speed internet access in rural and remote areas (and walk the talk on inclusive growth), bring down the cost of VR glasses, etc. Make the tech more accessible to a larger population.
Encourage investment in education and skill development: Incentivise educational institutions to invest more in the metaverse tech and also allocate funds for Skill India for specialised skilling.
Foster public-private partnership: Government initiatives for some of the above could be driven in the PPP model.
Create a regular framework for the industry.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.
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