If the government is to translate the 'Make in India' campaign from a mere slogan to an actual strategy and a movement, it will have to first understand that manufacturing is not an end in itself. It is a means to the ultimate end of creating employment. Execution of the PM's vision is not going to be easy. It will need a major change in mindset. It will need a major partnership between the government and industry, argues the President of the International Apparel Federation & President of the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India, Rahul Mehta
Imagine a cricketer, once an exciting player but now aged 45, having put on oodles of weight, too slow to run singles or chase the ball till the fence, too late in reacting to the bouncer, and too weak in eyesight to see the ball whiz past - trying to play in today's T-20 match and hoping to do well.
That, unfortunately, was the case with most of our exporters in 2005, when the quotas ended. They were overconfident, unseeing of the inefficiencies built up in their organisations, systems, and even thought processes, unaware of the changes taking place in the industry around them, forgetful of the fact that their success and wealth was more the result of their management of quotas rather than their management of business.
Undoubtedly, they were a brilliant lot - bestowed with outstanding business acumen, sharp money sense, and admirable decision-making ability. Unfortunately, they had built up their skillsets in areas which were no longer relevant. Competition on a level-playing field was not what they were accustomed to; reaching out to customers who had other options was not their forte; buying technology because it increased productivity - and not because it brought additional quotas - was not their domain of experience.
And that is why we lost the golden opportunity to capture the world apparel trade when quotas were lifted - a combination of an overconfident industry, lack of preparedness, an unimaginative and lethargic government, emerging competitors who did not carry the baggage of a successful past, and countries whose dependence on apparel exports denied them the luxury of being complacent.
Today, when the world is talking about the electrifying impact of our Prime Minister and his dynamic slogan 'Make in India' - we are once again faced with a golden opportunity. Will we be able to grab it? Will we able to convert promise into performance? Will we be able to actually realise our potential and actually do something about the opportunity that has presented itself? And if so, what does the government need to do? What does the industry need to do?
First of all, both government and industry - but more so the government - needs to understand that 'Make in India' need not, should not, and cannot be restricted to export-based industries. Unlike many other developing countries, India is blessed with a huge domestic market potential. There is no reason today that growth needs to be entirely export-led. Manufacturing for domestic markets generates as much
employment, growth, and development as manufacturing for exports. It is essential, therefore, to clarify at the very outset that the 'Make in India' campaign entails any manufacturing - be it for the international or domestic markets.