How many of you know at least 2-3 names of ‘Swadeshi’ products we use every day? At least how many of us actually cared enough to buy a product guaranteeing the Indian tag? Or are we still in the loophole of luxury to claim our head to toe a foreign product?
Definitely, we need time to process the answers for the above questions and later if we go through a bitter reality check, then boom! Weare not among the “I don’t care whatsoever” kind of people we come across every day.
India, a land of rich heritage, is currently placed among the nations with fewer resources and capability when it comes to the economy. Where did a nation with high potential go wrong that it is still running to keep pace with the rest in this tough globalised world? Maybe our export and import data can guide us to the answer.
Make in India campaign, when launched by the NDA government in 2014, was welcomed with fervor and felicity. The main objectives of this movement were to increase the growth rate of the manufacturing sector to 12-14% per annum and to create 100 million jobs in the Indian economy by 2022.
However, even after six years, the country’s manufacturing growth rate is unexpectedly decreasing to the lowest levels ever. During these years we came across the unbelievable profits made by Chinese companies from India, contracts to bring Japanese bullet trains and the controversial Rafale agreement but hardly came across an Indian unit or brand which made a place in the world market, other than Kingfisher (but for a different reason).
We import almost every essential product, raw and finished from many countries. In the FY 2018-2019, China had an export value of US$70.32 billion which makes 13% of their total export share. And what do we import from them? Electronics, machinery, plastic, organic chemicals, packed food and more of such products we come across every day, every minute.
The Rs59,000 crore Rafale deal was everywhere in the news when India made an arrangement with the French company Dassault Aviation to buy 36 fighter jets. The Rafales are advantageous compared to Americas F-19 jets, but the real question is why India does not have a jet of our own to stand with these extremely efficient multipurpose jets? Let’s take a look back where we went wrong.
During the British Raj, our resources were extremely dried up; a consequence of these resources being exported to Britain and its colonies. Indians paid heavy taxes on imported products. The sentiment of ‘Swaraj’ strengthened with Gandhi’s call on boycotting foreign products by using only ‘Swadeshi’ products. This encouraged thousands of people to boost their small businesses and the handloom industry bloomed. But they were facing major competition from British collaborated companies like Peter England and other textiles under the East India company.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t further extend our industries overseas after the 1960s. A few companies like TATA, Reliance group and Adnani’s could only make it work. Not only a lack of encouragement but also the myth of foreign luxury ceased the growth of Indian business.
Let’s make it clear. Being the fastest developing country in the world, how many smartphone companies do we own? How many countries import plastic, a major part of our lives, from India? Other than processed oil, medication in doses and jewelry want do we actually import?
When there are no strong wings for the MSMEs to fly high, they either fly just above the ground, making small businesses or they shatter down completely. The foremost thing we have to find is an equivalent Indian reciprocation of foreign products. The government should no more entertain foreign goods in the market. Instead, they should create platforms for Indian products at reasonable prices.
However, most of us run behind foreign brands and selectively avoid those Indian names. Even if it’s clothes, electronics, automobiles or even plastic. Most of us even don’t recognize the nationality of these brands. I wonder how many of us know that Peter England, Allen Solly, Park Avenue, Louis Phillippe are Indian brands and that Hindustan Unilever is foreign?
Even if Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi are Indian festivals, China celebrates it much better than we do. We give them this opportunity by eschewing the diyas, lamps and idols made by our brothers and sisters and by embracing the LED lights, plastic lamps and idols from our neighbours. Trust me, Ram and Ganesh Ji would have been happier if you had respected the efforts made by your homies.
Anyway, even if the people were more aware and cared more, seldom are there alternate choices available. It is almost impossible to find Indian substitutions for the smartphones, auto components and solar power. And for the others like telecom equipment, home appliances, internet applications and steel, it’s easy or doable but they are either quite expensive or unimpressive.
Therefore, before a campaign or hashtag trends to boycott the foreign components, make sure that we have efficient and sufficient substitutions. Promotion of small manufacturing units, feasibility of business loans and encouraging the educational institutions to increase practical and project-based teaching should be considered. Taxes on ‘Made in India’ products should be reduced and the government should reconsider not to privatize small textile factories and instead aid them with certain subsidies.
We have no more time to compromise when countries like China are making more profit even during this crisis. It is not too late to build a strategy. When scientists like Sonam Wangchuk are setting a model by boycotting foreign applications and conducting workshops about the latest technology, let us also make possible changes. Next time demand the government to fulfil the promises made six years ago and smother them until this happens.
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