The recently-concluded deliberations on the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ campaign provide an opportunity for delineating a forward-looking approach in respect of manufacturing activity, income, employment and environment in the coming years. The decisions that the government takes and implements in these areas are of far-reaching consequence, and will impact the trajectory of progress, as the economy moves from the status of ‘developing’ to that of ‘developed’.
An action plan has been prepared, and the ROAD to success consisting of Responsibility, Ownership, Accountability and Discipline defined.
While all of what has been done is needed, is there something more that needs to be reflected upon and which, if adopted, would help in realising the stated vision? Are there some underlying aspects which are responsible for the current syndrome? What, in addition to all that has been identified, has come in the way of ‘zero defect, zero effect’?
Answers to these questions could provide the key to unleashing the potential of this rich nation and the economy with its vibrant, diverse and manifold resources.
First, one of the ‘invisibles’ that clearly needs positioning, in spite of its lack of measurability as a tangible metric, is the right attitude or the spirit of ‘me, mine and ours’, which is apparently present in some context, but not all of where it is needed, and to the adequate extent. Pride in the organisation, nation and community to which one belongs is needed to a much greater extent than it exists today. While a lot is made of globalisation and the need for the adoption of global best practices, there is ample scope for building on this intangible element of local and national pride, not for covering our inherent weaknesses but for emphasising our strengths, capacities and potential. There is no dearth of these, be in the form of richness of tradition, culture and values, or in the availability of indigenous knowledge. All of these need to be re-emphasised and combined with the availability of technology, organisation and efficiency, so as to create adequate momentum and motivation to overcome some of the underlying inefficiencies in our system.
Second, there is a need for rationalisation of the existing institutional set-up, and structure, even as the attitudinal change mentioned above is worked upon. While in several areas there is a multiplicity of institutions performing similar roles, there are areas where larger and more specialised set of institutions is required. To cite just one example, India ranks 188 amongst 189 countries on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index with respect to enforcing contracts to resolve commercial disputes. Clearly, we require special courts for resolving commercial disputes, based on global best practices. There are also areas where there is a proliferation of institutions. Alongside bringing them under an overarching framework to enable proper vision and direction, preventing situations where different arms of the same set-up work at cross-purposes with each other—a situation where a larger number of institutions leads to lesser responsibility rather than more—is needed.
Third, with regard to ‘zero effect’ on the environment, high-level thinking for reconciliation of conflicting goals of ensuring growth, while also preserving the environment, is required. It is here that technological advancement, which enables dramatic improvements in productivity, can be utilised for ensuring outcomes which cause minimum disturbance to the environment. While there is no one-size-fits-all formula on this count, the possibility of finding creative and intelligent solutions cannot, and should not, be ruled out.
Fourth, in addition to the campaign for ‘Make in India’, there is a need to emphasise the concept of maximising value creation. Branding is important, but what is equally important is identifying the brand with uniqueness and value—zero defect, zero effect, and value unique. Indian artists and craftsmen have from time immemorial been famed for the quality of their crafts. There is no reason why in a tech-driven world the same spirit of craftsmanship and excellence cannot be emulated and internalised. Technology and craftsmanship are not mutually antagonistic but go hand in hand, as any skilful entrepreneur is aware of. The efficiency, skill and beauty lie in ‘design’, which is the most crucial part of an organisation and organisational efficiency.
A combination of self-pride, institutional support, critical thinking and effective action can undoubtedly enable the ‘Made in India’ stamp to become a hallmark of global excellence. The steps mentioned here can provide a strong foundation for enabling a successful ‘Make in India’ campaign. This is a dream today, but one which has the potential to build into a Kalpa Taru, or the wish-fulfilling tree of the future.
By Sumati Mehta
The author is a former civil servant