The Big Picture – Challenges for ‘Make in India’
The government launched “Make In India” initiative which aims at promoting India as an investment destination and to establish India as a global hub for manufacturing, design and innovation. The initiative aims to provide favorable environment to the business community so that they can devote their resources, efforts and energy in productive work. A number of steps have been taken by the government to improve the ease of doing business in the country. Rules and procedures have been simplified and a number of products have been taken off licensing requirements.
Under this initiative, the Government intends to provide a robust infrastructure to business through development of various facilities and institutions. Government also aims at developing industrial corridors and smart cities to provide a conducive working environment with state-of-the-art technology. Efforts are being made to provide skilled manpower through a national skill development programme. Innovation is encouraged through better management of patent and trademarks registration.
Government has opened up a number of sectors for FDI. The Policy in defence sector has been liberalized and FDI cap has been raised from 26% to 49%. 100% FDI has been allowed in defence sector for modern & state of the art technology on case to case basis. 100% FDI under automatic route has been permitted in construction, operation and maintenance in Rail Infrastructure projects. Further, liberalization norms for Insurance and Medical Devices has been done. ‘Make in India’ program represents an attitudinal shift in how India relates to investors; not as a permit-issuing authority, but as a true business partner. An Investor Facilitation Cell has been created in ‘Invest India’. A dedicated team of the Investor Facilitation Cell is there to guide and assist first-time investors.
It is time for India to focus on building competitive advantage on global scale in sectors where we have a large domestic market and certain inherent capabilities. Strategy is all about making choices. The top five priority industries are- Defence, electronics hardware, construction, health care and agro-industries. However, for India to become a manufacturing nation, it has to quickly move beyond rhetoric to create a clear strategy and favourable policy environment for manufacturing to take off. The government has chosen to quietly dismantle the sclerotic National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) but it needs to foster a more vibrant think tank in its place. A close dialogue and partnership between government and the private sector, both domestic and foreign, is critical. Indian companies along with Chinese, Japanese, German, American and Swedish companies are all vital partners and we must create an environment that is open and welcoming.
In many of the Indian industries, people insist for manual skill because they apprehend that adoption of advanced technology will result in redundancy of human resource, which is abundantly available in India. As such they resist the change and introduction of new technology. However, technology driven processes with minimum human intervention will guarantee manufacturing excellence. From technological point of view India is lagging behind the western world, as far as manufacturing is concerned. Experts say, India is still about a decade behind advanced countries, when it comes to usage of technology and manufacturing excellence. But this situation can be turned to our advantage. The country can learn from the mistakes of the western world and try to adopt the best ever technology in the years to come.
Make in India necessarily involves the drive to boost the manufacturing sector. However, the investors are wary of prevalent labor laws and bureaucratic hassles in India and as such, unless conducive atmosphere is created on these fronts the investments will not come as expected and Make in India drive will not accomplish desired results. In order to make this initiative a great success, we need to be at par with the advanced world as far as usage of modern technology is concerned and we need to have more clarity, maturity and intensity on quality aspects of our products.
Creating healthy business environment will be possible only when the administrative machinery is efficient. India has been very stringent when it comes to procedural and regulatory clearances. A business-friendly environment will only be created if India can signal easier approval of projects and set up hasstle-free clearance mechanism. India should also be ready to tackle elements that adversely affect competitiveness of manufacturing. To make the country a manufacturing hub the unfavorable factors must be removed. India should also be ready to give tax concessions to companies who come and set up unit in the country. India’s small and medium-sized industries can play a big role in making the country take the next big leap in manufacturing. India should be more focused towards novelty and innovation for these sectors. The government has to chart out plans to give special sops and privileges to these sectors.
India must also encourage high-tech imports, research and development (R&D) to upgrade ‘Make in India’ give edge-to-edge competition to the Chinese counterpart’s campaign. To do so, India has to be better prepared and motivated to do world class R&D. The government must ensure that it provides platform for such research and development.
India is ranked 132nd out of 185 economies in Doing Business 2013 by the World Bank. India’s restrictions on foreign equity ownership are greater than the average of the countries covered by the Investing Across Sectors indicators in the South Asia region and of the BRIC (Brazil, Russian Federation, India, and China) countries. India imposes restrictions on foreign equity ownership in many sectors, and in particular in the service industries. Sectors such as railway freight transportation and forestry are dominated by public monopolies and are closed to foreign equity participation. With the exception of certain activities specified by law, foreign ownership in the agriculture sector is also not allowed. These restrictions need to be eased for making India better place for doing business.
Infrastructure tops the list of most surveys on doing business in India. In particular, chronic deficiencies in transportation and power impose prohibitive costs and lower business competitiveness. Multiple enterprise surveys have identified electricity as the biggest constraint. Further, India lags behind on every measure of transport connectivity. Though there have been considerable recent successes spurred by private participation, much needs to be done. However, introduction of UDAY scheme is a good step in this regard.
Sound macroeconomic policies are necessary to create a low-inflation, low-interest rate and high-growth environment that is essential for the country’s global manufacturing competitiveness. Given the huge size and vast diversity of the country, a diagnostic for each state may be a more prudent strategy. In any case, instead of big-bang reforms, sustained efforts in multiple directions, which cumulatively generate large effects, are required to relax these constraints so that we can realise the goal of making in India.