Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 1166
, Published on 16 March 2015
Regime changes across the world have set the dice rolling, calling for reshuffling of the established economic world order. With China reportedly drifting away from manufacturing, a void has opened in this sector. The Indian Government launched the “Make in India” campaign to harness the country’s young workforce and build on its inherent potential. The stage is set for India to implement policies and dominate the world economy like it did in the days of yore. But with inefficiencies in existing frameworks, lack of proper infrastructure and ineffective governance, does India have the requisite resources to succeed in its endeavor?
On 25 September 2014, in front of an audience gathered at the Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the image of a majestic lion made of mechanical gears. This prowling lion, seemingly ready to unleash a guttural roar to send foes scrambling, signifies manufacturing strength and national pride, and is the symbol of the "Make in India" campaign. With Make in India being the dominant topic in discussions taking place from primetime news reporting to tea-stall chatter, predictions of its feasibility and success are the talk of the town. However, will Modi’s touted magnum opus live up to its intimidating image of a lion, or will it meekly scamper away into the darkness like an alley cat?
India’s Recent Growth Story
During the erstwhile UPA regime, the Indian economy staggered and stumbled from a high of 10.5% in 2010 to a low of 4.7% in 2013. An article in the Economic Times recognized that our present trajectory of services-led growth just could not create enough jobs for the increasing youth workforce. This argument stemmed an urgent requirement for substantial investment in manufacturing.
Anti-incumbency and an unnatural lack of confidence in the government’s economic policies aided Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) towards a resounding victory in the 2014 elections. Considering Modi’s business-friendly reformative policies during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, and his reported success in developing the state, the world went into a frenzy upon hearing about the regime change. Frantic invitations and scheduling of international visits followed a triumphant campaign fought on the basis of economic development. Narendra Modi had promised 100 million additional jobs in the manufacturing sector by 2022. He kept his commitment by launching the ambitious “Make in India” campaign in order to facilitate foreign investment, enhance skill development and promote jobs in the manufacturing sector.
This campaign involves speedier clearances of projects through an online portal, which provides thorough details pertaining to investment and manufacturing in India. An eight-member team has been employed to answer queries within a 48-hour timespan. The government aims to make India a manufacturing hub, increasing the manufacturing sector's share of GDP to 25%. It also targets improving responsiveness, accountability and transparency with this program.
Impediments to Success
If India succeeds in this endeavour, it will be a remarkable achievement leading to significant changes in the balance of world economy and power. But its journey is marred with obstacles. First and foremost, is the issue of governance. For years, the economy was in a state of decay, owing to policy paralysis and absence of effective leaders. Ignorance towards market trends and a lacklustre implementation of reforms had taken us into a dark subterranean passage that plunged us deeper and deeper into economic instability. Fortunately, with the allegedly dictatorial yet effective Narendra Modi at the helm now, accompanied by renowned economists like Raghuram Rajan and Arvind Panagariya, light is finally visible at the end of the tunnel. Rajan, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, mentioned liberalization, financial inclusion and improvement of the monetary policy framework as among his top priorities.
Lack of manpower is an issue that constantly slithers in the shadows, reassuring us of its absence, only to suddenly recoil and strike when we least expect it. This long overlooked matter has fed on years of apathy, to grow from an innocuous garden snake to an ominous reticulated python. India has a massive population but has till now failed to harness this power optimally. Driving manufacturing prowess through procurement of machinery and technology would be pointless if there isn't a sufficiently skilled workforce behind the wheel. About half of the population is employed in agriculture, whereas the manufacturing sector only employs 15%. There is also a growing concern regarding abominable pay scales and inhumane work hours allocated to the marginalized workforce. The government can address this constraint through skill development and introduction of favourable labour laws.
In stark contrast, the issue of infrastructure is the elephant in the room. Insufficient infrastructure has restricted growth in all sectors of the economy. Manufacturing cannot thrive without the availability of proper machinery, tools and technology. To make headway in this field, India is in dire need of funds. The government has already initiated steps to attract investment from national and international players.
The hydra of environmental damage poses another hurdle for industrial expansion the world over. Urban development, air and water pollution, and agricultural runoff are just some of the heads of this creature that must be slain for social benefit. Injudicious, rampant abuse of natural resources are hurting not only flora and fauna, but humans too. In our endeavour to attain a more commanding position in the world economy, we must ensure that any development proposed is sustainable. India must manoeuvre its resources optimally, through the labyrinthine environmental laws laid down by global regulatory agencies. This Herculean task has been recognised by the Prime Minister, who has proposed a Zero Defect, Zero Effect policy. This policy postulates top-of-the-line manufacturing of goods, while minimising our ecological footprint. Taking care of the environment not only accompanies but also facilitates meaningful growth.
What does the Crystal Ball say?
The Make in India campaign, with its objective of providing goods for domestic and international consumption, can be compared to an export-led growth model. China, the current world leader in manufacturing, is drifting away from this field because of labour shortages and pressure on wages, coupled with its low level of domestic consumption. The flight of the dragon is leaving a void that can be filled with the entry of other economies. But it is unclear what India can do uniquely to ward off other emerging regional powers and capture this fresh pie. In the current international environment of austerity measures and currency wars, an emphasis on export-led growth at this point may not necessarily be fruitful.
Nevertheless, India can benefit from its population, rate of churning out professionals, and cheap cost of labour. Though not ready for the immediate future, it certainly has the requisite resources and potential of becoming a manufacturing superpower in years to come. Ravenous and thirsty, having long been silenced since the Golden Age of Emperor Ashoka, the Indian lion shall roar once more.
This article has been authored by Ayush Sharma from IIM Ahmedabad
A Good Looking Empty Shell: New Land Acquisition Bill. Retrieved from http://www.forestrightsact.com/statements-and-news/117-a-good-looking-empty-shell-new-land-acquisition-bill
Ansuya Harjani (Sept 26, 2014) ‘Make in India’: Will global companies bite? Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com///id/102034695
Deepshikha Ghosh (Sept 25, 2014) 'Make-In-India's' Symbol is a Lion Made of Cogs. Retrieved from http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/make-in-india-s-symbol-is-a-lion-made-of-cogs-597669
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