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Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Make in India" and a level playing field for domestic manufacturing

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What gets my goat, with unfailing regularity, is that we talk in platitudes and really do not keep the "ground realities" in mind. "Make in India" campaign is another such thing that comes to mind.

"Make in India" is a brilliant concept on paper, but are we only looking at foreign investment here or actually looking at boosting domestic industry as well? Alright, as we understand it, "Make in India" is completely different from "Made in India" and lets talk about the angst of the domestic industry.

As an organization, we provide strategic communication inputs to clients, a sizeable percentage of who are manufacturing companies - quite a few in the B2B segment as well. We are therefore unfortunately aware of their issues and "plight" possibly a little more than your average person. And I am taking specially of the plight of the SME sector, where the "ticket" size of the investments are not all that big, but these are the industries that provide the most important ingredients to the industry.

When on a daily basis there is all this talk of "growth" and how the Government is bending over backwards to facilitate investments in the country by foreign companies, one feels strange since the domestic companies still have to jump through hoops to get the same clearances. If we are talking about the investments of around Rs. 50-250 Cr., there are very few takers. There are no resources available for capex or greenfield expansions, huge amount of bureaucratic interference, a 100 different permissions required, and the list is really long.

I have come across a large number of "frustrations" in day-to-day running of the organisations and therefore I am worried that if the domestic manufacturer is not really happy, should we go overboard in promoting ourselves as the "liberal economy"? I fear that a time will come that the domestic industry in its own country will become the "untouchables". 

I believe that we should put our own house in order first before we go ahead and invite the biggies to invest in India. Afterall, if the domestic industry is happy, only then will it be able to provide the best to the newbies who come in.

And this isn't an unsurmountable task either. It only takes a few interventions to make this happen. When I began my career in PR, I worked with Government of Rajasthan and their Bureau of Industrial Promotion. There were already a few biggies in Rajasthan, I am talking about mid 90s, almost 20 years ago. The importance of keeping the existing players happy before we went out and promoted Rajasthan as the investment destination was felt and BIP went out of its way to streamline the processes, made themselves approachable and began a regular dialogue. The results were there for people to see. 

If one Mr. Arvind Mayaram, the then BIP head, could have the foresight to create a good atmosphere amongst the  the organisations already present in Rajasthan, then I see no reason why that the collective might of the central government can not make the life of the manufacturing sector easier! 

After all, before we unleash the "Roar of the Lion", we need to create a level playing filed for the domestic industry, so that the chirping of the birds is also heard!


  1. the economy seems to be in doldrums and there is no denying that local industry is feeling the pinch. while i strongly feel that the need to develop and strengthen domestic industry should be the first priority foreign investment is also very important not only in the terms of money but also technological know how

  2. I agree Rakesh, but it needs to be a combined effort and not one at the cost of the other!