Millennium Post

Making sense of ‘Make in India’

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s ’Make in India’ slogan is slowly beginning to capture the imagination of both his supporters and detractors. Starting from his Independence Day speech, where he first made the comment, to his recent US trip, where he turned it into an instrument to get foreign investment, the country is getting to know what this campaign is all about.

The ’Make in India’ campaign aims to make India the manufacturing hub of the world, challenging China’s dominant position in the world of manufacturing. Modi has linked this to creation of employment to encash the demographic dividend. In simple terms, companies will come to India to manufacture products instead of just marketing them here. This will create jobs for people, fuelling economic growth. This is where the campaign seems to be out of sync with the employment realities of India. The reality is that the Indian labour force is more skilled in traditional occupations, such as handicrafts, textile and agro-based activities.

During the formulation of the 12th Five Year Plan this issue came into focus and experts agreed that manufacturing as we understand in modern times would not fetch Indians jobs. Rather, refocusing on India’s traditional occupations could potentially create 10 million jobs a year.

At the time of independence, India was a global hub of manufacturing, with most of the sectors focusing not on industrial products but on traditional occupations using the vast resources. The global demand for Indian handicrafts and textile is still high. It still employs close to 25 million people.
This is the message for the new campaign: a ’make in India’ policy must have made-in-India skills as its inevitable ingredients.  

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