“Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached”-Swami Vivekananda
What would be a better quote to start my article than the one from a visionary himself who at the time when India as a nation was suffering under the cast of colonialism held its hands and urged people to come out of the “hypnotism of weakness”. At the trying times like these when an invisible enemy has spread its wings across the globe, our Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi , treated the current crisis as a blessing in disguise and turned the pebbles thrown towards us into stepping stones by introducing a series of transformational policy reforms keeping the long term perspective in mind.
The flag bearer of the initiative Aatmanirbhar Bharat Hon. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman paved the way by laying down a corpus of Rs.20 lakh crore at the disposal of these massive policy reforms.
These policy reforms would not only help in giving a major boost to the Make In India campaign but also give a long standing credit to the untapped resources of India namely land, labour and material by bringing “Go Vocal for Local” dictum into life.
Nonetheless there’ll always be a section of society which would see the glass as half empty, however let’s not cringe for what has not been provided for and appreciate the far sightedness of our nation’s leader. So in this direction I would like to iterate some of the positive cum qualitative side of the policy reforms recently announced:
1. Turning the pebbles into stepping stones: There’s a saying that if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. This corona pandemic came as a wakeup call for all the developing nations like India to transform into a developed nation and turn the tides in its favor by tapping the ample unused resources that the nation has on its plate ; the handloom and handicraft sector for example has so much to offer to the world markets. This would not only improve the financial condition of the weavers and the workers but also create a huge export market for the same. One of the initiative in this direction would be when the finance minister announced that for global tenders upto a value of Rs.200 crores , the global companies would not be allowed to participate in the tender. This would give a huge impetus to our companies to freely participate in the bidding and get the best price for the efforts put in.
2. Decreased rate of Brain Drain: It’s not the problem of India alone that the proficient personnels in different fields like science and technology, medicine and education, literature and arts, painters and artists leave the country to seek better professional opportunities and lifestyles in advanced countries least thinking about the development of their own country due to lack of proper infrastructure & environment and lack of proper recognition of their capabilities. With the advent of some of the policy reforms like introduction of new research centers, more incentives to MSME sector, giving technology a boost and majorly incentivising Make In India numerous intellectuals would reconsider moving out of India.
3. Lesser Import Costs: From pins to planes if each and everything is manufactured in India it would not only result in our lesser dependence on products to be imported into India but also considerably reduce the import cost burden from our country. Particularly in the defence sector when the spare parts to build a defence armor is imported from a country, our defence secrets are revealed, thus the step of increasing the FDI on import to 74% and ban on imports of a list of weapons as announced in the Tranche 4 of Atmanirbhar Bharat press conference is a commendable step towards this direction.
4. Efficient resource utilization: Today India’s cotton production accounts for nearly 23% of the world’s total production, nevertheless cotton is being imported in India because of the missing connection viability with the farmers. Similarly India has abundance of kesar, cotton, chana , makhana and other regional products which can open the doors of world markets. In this direction the announcement of formalization of Micro Food Enterprises, branding of their produce as well as forming of Clusters of markets to tap the untapped agriculture market seems to be a welcome move.
5. Job Creation: By formalizing the unorganized sector, not only markets would be created but as its byproduct a major boost would be given to the job sector. Due to the incurrence of the pandemic the unemployment rate hiked to 27% which has instilled fear among the working class. And its not even been months into the initiative and our efforts in the right direction has already started bearing fruits. Take the German company Von Wellx for instance. It has announced to shift its entire shoe production business away from China to India with a capacity of over three million pairs annually, to India with an initial investment of Rs.110 crore. This would enormously create jobs across all levels and also help in tapping unused resources. Also the shoe manufacturing industry would benefit from the investment altogether. Another big achievement for India would be when the IPhone maker Apple would shift nearly a fifth of its production capacity from China to India and scale up its local manufacturing revenues, through its contract manufacturers, to around $40 billion over the next five years thus becoming country’s largest exporter.
6. Vocal for Local: Our local artisans, workers and laborers, who put their blood and sweat should be given their due credit and recognition by connecting them with the world and fetching them a better market and a price worth their labor. Not to mention the power of Ayurveda & Yoga ,which has the strength of keeping the spirits high in these trying times and is gaining worldwide recognition. As PM Modi rightly emphasized that if we join our hands, utilize our gifts of resources and talent and market the product into the world, we could soar better than some of the global brands available today.
7. Display of our culture and diversity to the world: India has been fortunate enough to preserve its thousands of years of heritage. With the growth of all sectors simultaneously and the aid of technology we could take our rich heritage to another level; be it handloom, handicraft or any other craft born in India. Not only we have diverse set of religions but also diverse cultures, food, language, clothes and way of living which just needs to be pushed forward in the right direction to garner which has been rightfully ours.
Health, tourism and technology are a few sectors which have been given a boost in the right direction post liberalization however these still need proper attention.
The virus has proved to be a terrible equalizer . Everyone is going through great difficulties at different degrees. India must now examine how to turn it into an opportunity in the long term while ascertaining who needs a helping hand in the short run.
The path India and its people choose today will determine the future of tomorrow.
The author is a practicing chartered accountant. Please feel free to contact at email id [email protected]