Friday, January 30, 2015

Made in India vs. Make in India

This morning of 26th Jan, 2015 looking at the “Make in India” tableau on the Rajpath, my apolitical wife wondered should it not be “Made in India”? Oh my god! we made a fool of ourselves in front of the Americans!

This reminded me of the "Made in India" path we embarked upon in India nearly 60 years before. At the time I was growing up in seventies, as a nation we officially hated capitalist freemarket America.  We were a poor, under developed country that relied on the aid from the West. Yet we gave moralistic sermons to West while relying on their aid and leaning towards Soviet styled planned economy. We were a laughing stock of the world, no one cared about us. 

In our economic vision, a benevolent government would provide every basic necessity - food, housing, education, job, healthcare.   Self sufficiency was our motto. Nothing wrong, except that in past 60 years of independence we have produced many things that are at best shoddy, lacked any aesthetic sense and were extremely non user friendly. Our government would exhort us to buy India made goods using adverts like "Be Indian, Buy Indian". 

This was official line. Privately, most of our leaders and elites hankered after foreign goods from shaving cream to scotch whisky. Travel to US and Europe used to be highly sought after and rewarding. Any such travel would also entail a shopping spree of foreign goods that we are taught to despise. Our students from elite universities would fly away to the United States for higher degree and hopefully employment opportunity. A phenomenon we called brain drain.

On the 15th Aug, 2014 from the ramparts of red fort Prime Minister Modi made announcement on “Make in India”. Many of our intelligentia were amused. Some thought it must be a mistake. Actually, it should read “Made in India”. What is so novel about it, anyway. For the past 60 years we had been doing just that. So Modi is nothing but a copy cat. He copies past legacies, puts his stamp and claims credit for the idea. 

 “Make in India” is very different from “Made in India”. It asks foreign companies to come to India and set up shop. India will provide cost effective labor. Government is assuring investors of cutting red tape, making business environment conducive and make land acquisition for industrial purpose easy.  India in turn would get investment, job and hope for our young unemployed.  

Will Mr. Modi be successful, only time will tell. Left leaning political parties have started opposing land acquisition for building industrial corridor and smart cities. Mr. Modi and his party have to gather all the wits at their command to be successful. Moreover, industry has to come up in different states of India. Indian states are in different stages of preparedness in terms of physical infrastructure and intellectual acceptance to welcome foreign investment. Besides most state administrations are mired in corruption and red tape. Good thing is, states have to compete with each other and out to do themselves to attract investment. Only the fittest would be successful. So it would be in the interest of states to remove bureaucratic hurdles. There will be many who will claim that there is nothing new in all these. True, but credit goes to one who shows the way.

Tags: America, Bureaucracy, India, Investment, Made in India, Make in India, Narendra Moid, Self Sufficiency
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