India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious initiative to make India a manufacturing powerhouse has resonated with India’s business leaders. The “Make in India” clarion call by India’s recently elected leader was as much about bridging the trust deficit as it was about reducing the current account deficit.
Ease of doing business, a focus on public-private partnerships, harnessing the potential and unique differentiation of Democracy, Demography and Demand – has formed the key focus of Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign.
Modi’s manufacturing initiative is a large scale intervention from the government to create jobs – and to bring about necessary labour market reforms which come in the way of creating employment. These regulatory reforms are aimed at unleashing India’s entrepreneurial drive towards the creation of a million jobs per month. Over 10 million youth join the workforce each year and their future is better served through an economy with the grunt and flexibility to create jobs in place of laws that guarantee employment that does not exist.
The new ideology set into motion to support the ‘make in India’ strategy – will be supported by an e-business platform that will diminish human interface and create a no inspection Raj. A new self-certification regime fuelled by trust and backed by compliance checks will replace the old inspection Raj — a fertile breeding ground for corruption. In one digital swipe Modi has eliminated opportunity for human intervention which has been a primary source of delays, frustration and loss of faith in Indian business enterprise.
The transformation process unleased by Modi is creating a new mind-set of accountability and responsibility amongst the bureaucracy, who are as never before, being expected to act and serve Indian citizens and foreign investors as enablers and promoters of business, rather than gatekeepers. Once thought of as a polarising factor in Indian politics, Modi is proving to be the greatest galvaniser of industry capability, government enterprise and business endeavour all at the same time, and at a time when India’s youth need the economy to be firing with all cylinders.
This shift in bureaucratic attitude and the renewal of faith in the political class will be counted amongst the Modi’s greatest achievements. India’s slowly awakening mojo will first draw back investment from Indian industrialists who had over the past decade cast their vision offshore following a lack of faith in the government’s ability to support enterprise rather than a belief in the returns from overseas investments.
Modi’s experience in transforming the state of Gujarat gives him the necessary depth of experience and insight into the exact regulatory changes needed to drive a country-wide transformation.
Modi knows only too well that capital will not come merely at India’s invitation or on the promise of the red carpet. It is the nature of capital that it goes where it can multiply and investors will assess if growth opportunities exist.
The core question that will be asked by investors – is the ecosystem in India world class and competitive, and will it reward the investor for being in India rather than anywhere else in the world?
Industrial growth corridors earmarked across the length and breadth of the country will provide infrastructure and supporting ecosystems for industry to get globally competitive. The States will begin their own race against one another to create the right conditions that attract capital. Madhya Pradesh has already set the ball in motion and attracted the attention of ITC, a leading Indian conglomerate with manufacturing investments across the globe, and now committed to investing in a state that has been the first to deliver fertile conditions for investor returns.
Modi’s “Make in India” campaign has galvanised his bureaucracy to unleash a set of reforms to make each state a hub of manufacturing activity and enterprise. A single window Invest India unit will assist, facilitate and hand hold investors through the process, providing investors with security.
This is intended to ensure that India makes advancements on lighting speed on the ladder of ease of doing business. Currently ranked 134th out of 189 economies, with China ranked 96th, Modi assured investors that the government’s enabling measures alone would lift India’s ranking to 50th in the near term.
India’s recent Mars Orbital Mission (MoM) was hailed a success, making India amongst only four countries in the world to have successfully launched a Mars mission. What is equally impressive is that this was achieved in its very first attempt and on a shoe string budget — less than what it cost to make the Hollywood movie Gravity. This Mars mission symbolises Modi’s hope for a new future for India as a global hub for high-end, zero defect, precision manufacturing at a globally competitive cost.
And it is this hope, backed by the growing spirit of co-operation and trust between business, industry, academia and government that is leading India, slowly but surely, towards her rightful place in the world.
The writer is director of Cross Border Business at Pitcher Partners