The Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi launched the Make In India campaign on 25th September 2014 before leaving for the USA to attend the UNGA Session in New York where he is scheduled to address the gathering of the Heads of States and Heads of Governments of member countries numbering 192 or so. The message is clear and the new government demonstrates to the global community the change of government. What is the significance?
PM Modi in his address to the gathering of prominent industrialists of India and MNCs and members of the diplomatic corps in Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi emphasized one thing: he aims to make available an “effective” government in India and not merely a “good” government. It is extremely significant and needs to be noted. It may be recalled that the Vajpayee government 15 years ago aimed to provide Shushasan i.e. “good governance”. The Vajpayee government succeeded a long era of extremely bad governance. The people demanded a change for good governance and Vajpayee did indeed succeed in giving the country good governance. But his good governance had hit the vested interests severely. So these elements, in collusion with the English media houses, managed to denigrate the government, devalue its achievement and deride it policies. Vajpayee lacked clear majority of his party and therefore, had to exercise extreme caution in taking his coalition partners along in a pattern of political behavior that acquired a new coinage called the “coalition dharma”, which came to dominate politics in the country for the next 15 years. While his opponents succeeded in breaking the coalition under Vajpayee because he lacked the skills of real politics, Narendra Modi is too clever for his rivals in the opposition or within even his own party. Between Vajpayee and Modi, the Congress led coalition ran the government, which unfortunately earned the bad reputation of being the most corrupt government in India since 1947. The rule of law suffered the most and the whole scheme of constitutional governance in India was upended in the 10 years of the Congress run coalition under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Under that dispensation “effective” meant rent seekers, commission agents, deal fixers, wheeler dealers, extra-constitutional authorities exercising the powers of the government. They were the only effective people. One phone call from such elements was enough to get the desired things done, be it appointments to government positions or licences or spectrum allocation or allocation of coal blocks or anything else. They were so effective that nothing moved without their nod, at the centre or state government level. Obviously their services came not for free as public service but at attractive prices with equally attractive discounts if support for the government during the trust vote was ensured! Discipline suffered so awfully during that period that even secret government documents were leaked to unauthorized persons and even highly sensitive defence secrets like navy war room information fell in enemy hands very easily. Such was the effectiveness of these people.
Is the assurance of “effective” governance held out by Prime Minister Modi different from that kind of effective governance? Yes. What Modi had earlier said needs to be recalled. He said immediately after becoming Prime Minister “Naa Khaaongaa, Naa Khaane Doonga “ (Neither will I take cuts/commission nor shall I let anybody else do so}. It is that Modi who has now promised not only good government but effective governance. The industry needs good and effective governance to pursue their projects. They don’t want irritants at every toll plaza installed by the corrupt. The industry can’t suffer delays due to irrelevant laws or multiple regulators. It can’t digest humiliation at the hands of authorities who are oblivious of the entrepreneurs’ contribution to economic development, growth and job creation and think of industrial or commercial projects only as for personal benefit of the investor. They don’t even understand the difficulties and complexities of getting technology from the owners abroad or even the significance of IPR/TRIPRs. How can anybody even think of commissioning or running smoothly industrial projects? Unless the government is able to satisfactorily demonstrate that it means business and is honest about good and effective government, Make In India remains a distant dream.
But Modi is no daydreamer. He means business if the first 100 days of his government are any indication. He is conscious of the fact that it is too early to talk of branding good as Made In India. For that to happen, it needs state of the art technology, which is not available off the shelf. Only outdated technology and old machines are sold to the developing countries, which transfers the entire liability of environmental pollution on their shoulders while the developed countries claim carbon credits. Developing high technology, though 100% possible, is like re-inventing the wheel and needs too much capital and time. International cooperation in this field is mutually beneficial. When Prime Minister Modi launches the Make In India campaign, he initiates the process of transfer of latest technology in a new way- set up units in India and produce for first developing India. India is no more looking for foreign capital alone. In fact, tons of Indian wealth is stacked up in foreign banks, which if invested in India will give the people tax breaks for 10 years and contribute to annual rate of growth of 8-10%. India has been collaborating with foreign technology giants for more than 6 decades now and is a trusted partner. However, due to several constraints, lack of good & effective government being one of them, the pace of transfer and absorption of technology has been slow. I give a few examples. Take optical fibre technology. Several years were spent in fruitless discussions whether private sector should be allowed to import the necessary technology or the public sector corporation should be given the monopolistic rights to import the technology. Who was deciding on the subject? Those at decision making level had no idea of what was an optical fibre or how different it was from the jute fibre or the nylon firbre or the manmade fibre! Another example relates to manufacturing of fax machines in India. The question for decision was if it was in public interest to licence manufacture of fax machines. Till date, the same mind set is in operation. The result: mobile phone handsets, plasma TV, military equipment and a long list of products continue to be imported. Comparison with China is made as if the Indian industry is not willing to manufacture all these products. Who is blaming whom? Are the decision makers helping entrepreneurs or impeding them? Do they want to keep them as Kisaan/Mazdoor (farmers/labourers) infinitely or provide them opportunities to exit the vicious circle? It is fresh air after 10 years of historic corruption that a Prime Minister comes to make a public assurance that he is determined to provide an effective government. And we take him at his word. We take it as a gentleman’s word of honour. We want the world to trust him for his sincerity in delivering on his promise. We had very fruitful cooperation at industry to industry level all these years as entrepreneurship accepts all challenges and surmounts them satisfactorily. The Make In India campaign will only give it a fillip.
It is doable. I write so on the basis of my personal experience of setting up of District Industry Centre (DIC) in every district of the country in 1977-78 and executing the De-licensing Policy of the government in 1985 against all the resistance of the vested lobbies as it removed the requirement of compulsory licence under the Industries (D&R) Act. A licence in those days was more valuable than the contemporary allocation of air waves or coal mines. Actually, you need honest and devoted officers enjoying the full support of the incumbent government to deliver on such policies and programmes. On the basis of his performance as Chief Minister of Gujarat for 12 long years before becoming Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s assurance of effective and good government can be taken to be sincere and honest.