The Make in India Initiative (launched 2014)

The 2015 Independence Day Address led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi was probably as historic as the one made sixty-eight years ago; the past address assured democratic freedom and the present one promised economic liberation from reliance on other nations. The world looked on as India announced baby steps towards achieving complete self-reliance in production and manufacturing: the Prime Minister proudly introduced his objective of ‘Start Up India’. ‘Start Up India’ was to serve as a platform for promoting entrepreneurial ventures in the country with the objectives of simplification, handholding, funding support and industry-academia partnerships. An equally important campaign, however, had been launched not many months prior to the Red Fort address and was considered a precedent for the entrepreneurship campaigns that soon followed: this happened to be the famous ‘Make in India’ initiative. Make in India was created to encourage companies to manufacture in India and incentivize dedicated investments into manufacturing. 

Launched as part of a wider set of nation-building initiatives, Make In India impressed global partners and competitors: businesses across the globe considered the campaign historic and deemed it necessary for India’s march towards exponential economic growth. In a sense, the campaign mirrored the Swadeshi Andolan of Gandhi: the decision to boycott all foreign goods and spin the proverbial charkha to attain economic self-reliance. Make in India was, however, not created in the spirit of boycott of ‘the other’ but rather regarded as a crucial step in the movement towards producing enough within the country to fulfill the needs of the countrymen with any surplus being sold globally. The campaign was launched with great enthusiasm and fervour and was universally regarded as a breakthrough policy of New India. 

Devised to transform India into a global design and manufacturing hub, Make in India was a timely response to a critical situation. By 2013, the much-hyped emerging markets bubble had burst, and India’s growth rate had fallen to its lowest level in a decade. The promise of the BRICS Nations had faded, and India was tagged as one of the so-called ‘Fragile Five’. Global investors debated whether the world’s largest democracy was a risk or an opportunity. India was on the brink of severe economic failure, desperately in need of a big push. Make in India was launched by PM Modi against the backdrop of this crisis and quickly became a rallying cry for India’s innumerable stakeholders and partners. It was a powerful, galvanising call to action to India’s citizens and business leaders, and an invitation to potential partners and investors around the world. But Make in India is much more than an inspiring slogan. It represents a comprehensive and unprecedented overhaul of outdated processes and policies. Most importantly, it represents a complete change of the government’s mindset – a shift from issuing authority to business partner, in keeping with the Prime Minister’s tenet of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’.

The Make in India campaign is aimed at transforming India into a global manufacturing hub and contains a raft of proposals to attract investments from both local and foreign corporate houses in twenty-five sectors including automobiles, chemicals, IT, textiles, aviation and railways. The initiative has been built on layers of collaborative effort. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade initiated this process by inviting participation from Union Ministers, Secretaries to the Government of India, state governments, industry leaders, and various knowledge partners. A National Workshop on sector specific industries brought Secretaries to the Government of India and industry leaders together to debate and formulate an action plan for the next three years, aimed at raising the contribution of the manufacturing sector to 25% of the GDP by 2020.  In a short span of time, the obsolete and obstructive frameworks of the past have been dismantled and replaced with a transparent and user-friendly system. This is helping drive investment, fostering innovation, developing skills, protecting Intellectual Property and building best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure. The most striking indicator of progress is the unprecedented opening of key sectors – including railways, defence, insurance and medical devices – to substantially higher levels of Foreign Direct Investment.

The ministry has engaged with the World Bank group to identify areas of improvement in line with the World Bank’s ‘doing business’ methodology. Several workshops with Ministries and State governments have been conducted by the Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade (DPIIT) and World Bank for Business Reforms Action Plan. An Investor Facilitation Cell (IFC) dedicated for the Make in India campaign was formed in September 2014 with an objective to assist investors in seeking regulatory approvals, hand-holding services through the pre-investment phase, execution and after-care support. In a sense, the Make in India project had been heralded as a new beginning for the country and countrymen on the basis of the sheer transparency with which it planned to tackle deep-rooted economic problems and transform India into ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. India recently celebrated six years of the Make in India campaign. Where does the campaign stand now? Was it really a success? For updates on and an analysis of the campaign, watch this space!

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