Shubham Narnoli, Young Leader - IndiaGlocal
Shubham Narnoli is a full time post-graduate student at Indian Institute of Management, Nagpur. This article was submitted as part of his selection process as an IndiaGlocal - Young Leader. The views and opinion in the article are solely of the author.
On 22nd May, the Prime Minister declared the campaign to become “Atmanirbhar” (self-reliant) amidst the anti-Chinese sentiments. Emotions of the public went up, and suddenly everyone started feeling themselves the designer of the INDEPENDENT INDIA. It vowed to delete Chinese applications and to get rid of any Chinese connections in the coming future. But wait! Rafale has arrived from France, and now India is ready to combat both China and Pakistan simultaneously in a war. So what Rafale is a French jet fighter, so what we paid around INR 70,000 crores of taxpayers’ money for this deal! Is the meaning of becoming “atmanirbhar” just to boycott Chinese goods and applications? Definitely not, and yes, Indian society as a whole needs to redefine the sentiments of “atmanirbharta”, where every imported product should be looked like a dent on the Indian economy irrespective of the country it is imported from. At the same time, it has to be realized that becoming self-dependent will take time, but seeds have to be sowed now.
Undeniably, India needs to put more focus on developing the manufacturing sector to decrease the trade deficit of USD 45.96 billion in Q4 of 2019. It was said and discussed innumerably regarding the challenges of skills, innovation, and status quo that inhibit the growth of the Indian manufacturing sector. However, India can still utilize its core competency to at least become a tough competitor in certain industries. One of those industries which can’t be overlooked is the mobile application industry. With around one-fourth of the world’s engineers produced in India, there is only 4% of the total 2.96 billion applications in the play store, which are “Made In India.” Accepting the fact that India lags in innovation, application developer behemoths in India need to provide a platform to the engineering graduates where they can learn at least the applications which made a difference in the world. This will also help in reducing the current rate of failure in technology startups and lead to more employment. The government should even step up and provision a policy that ensures that every technology giant business in India buddy a particular number of startups in the inception years with valuable benefits in return to the businesses. The government has taken similar initiatives in this direction by setting up the incubators such as Atal Incubation Centers in educational institutes, but the enrollment at these centers remains low.
Indian businesses can also leverage their strength as they play a significant role in the world by exporting IT services as they benefit significantly from the low wage of software professionals prevalent in the Indian market. IT exports contributed 25% of the total Indian exports in 2012. However, the learning of IT Services has not resulted in the growth of IT Products manufacturing in India. This is partly because of the tough competition from China with the low cost of manufacturing and majorly due to internal challenges of labor laws, labor productivity, and cumbersome process of setting up a new business in India. The government has taken new initiatives by easing out on some of these obstacles because of which India witnessed a sharp improvement to 62nd position in Ease of Doing Business rankings 2020. These efforts have attracted some of the foreign investments such as Foxconn, which has planned to set up a manufacturing unit in Southern India. However, India’s IT manufacturing sector cannot ride on the shoulders of FDIs. It’s high time for IT giants such as Infosys and TCS to venture into the manufacturing of IT products such as computers and its peripherals are given the learning they have had in IT consulting and maintenance.
Apart from the discussed new opportunities, existing Indian businesses just can’t let go of the opportunity created post-COVID in the domains where international companies are either their competitors or leading. COVID has significantly impacted supply chains of major international players driving the value of imports in the country down by 58.6% in April 2020. Industries such as consumer durables, mobile handsets, and fertilizers constitute a significant amount of total imports in India and definitely can’t be overlooked by Indian companies to become the market leaders.
Having observed some of the opportunities Indian businesses possess, it will be an injustice to put the entire burden of leading the Indian economy into a limited number of shoulders. It is high time that Indian youth realize this and exploit every opportunity that the current ecosystem offers. With around more than 65% of the population under the age of 35, it’s this generation that needs to become job creators rather than job seekers.