While reacting with impulsive sentiments against China today, we seldom realize that we cannot immediately offer an alternative (of China) to the world. In order to do so in say five to six years from now, we would have to go back in the past and plant a competent engineering vision in India. Thankfully, our Prime Minister had done that in 2015.
There is a fundamental difference between “Make in India” and “Boycott of Chinese products”. The former is proactive patriotism while the latter is a reactive sentiment. How many of us hated China during normal circumstances when there were neither heat escalations on the front, nor was a virus threatening our existence? In the answer to this (personal to each one), lies the true nature of our understanding of right and wrong. Blocking imports is important, perhaps most important, but that is not an individual decision. That what we decided individually about China basis no extraordinary situations, is also important, because this defines whether we are capable of identifying our enemy in advance.
In not so distant past, I remember few of my friends (who call themselves businessmen), were actually trading in cheap electronics bought from Wenzhou and sold in malls and chaotic markets of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, etc. I remember (and can find even today) the proudly posted selfies checked in Guangzhou. I clearly remember the discussions of endless praise for China’s manufacturing conception. Very few of us debated that Chinese offer only one product and that was lower cost of manufacturing and that alone; and that the people who were buying this product instead of developing their own manufacturing bellies (only for the cost), were anti-nationals to their own countries. The epoch of China would not have happened had such anti-nationals and myopic leaders not existed in other countries. Every government could foresee the long gestation pain of conceiving manufacturing bases in their respective home countries, which would reap results only in the long run and hence the party would be democratically screwed by then.
A competent nationalist government would and should risk their future conceiving long-term manufacturing eco-system in their homeland. The Modi government had launched Make in India on 25-Septemeber 2015, a year after coming to power, without waiting for a Chinese intrusion in Ladakh. It takes deep understanding to know that by the time this campaign shows results, PM Modi will be rigorously questioned by the opposition (which ironically ruled for six and a half decades). It only says volumes about the selfless vision of the present government which is ready to risk its continuation (in the eyes of the myopic voter) for the larger good. The World Bank’s 2019 ‘Doing Business Report’ acknowledges India’s jump of 23 positions against its rank of 100 in 2017 to be placed now at 63rd rank among 190 countries. By the end of 2017, India had risen 42 places on Ease of doing business index, 32 places World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, and 19 notches in the Logistics Performance Index, thanks to government initiatives which include converges, synergies and enables other important Government of India schemes, such as Bharatmala, Sagarmala, Dedicated Freight Corridors, Industrial corridors, UDAN-RCS, Bharat Broadband Network, Digital India. We may start seeing real effectiveness in another five to six years or may be a decade, very few of us would remember that it had not started during the events relating to China in 2019.
The five-year mark-sheets often do not talk about the seeds of long-term endeavors, visionary leaders sow them for the country.
In my work tenure, I am yet to meet people who understood ‘Make in India’, who bought Indian cars, who pumped in whatever little money they could into capital markets for the sole reason of helping our industry, I am yet to meet someone who actually understood the long gestation period attached to ‘Make in India’ concept. I am yet to meet someone who would under normal circumstances have argued that my nation is not aspiring to be the cheap factory to the world, we aspire to be the brains behind the software that runs the world, we make alternative energy vehicles, we make pharma. We would and should develop our manufacturing bases but not basis the proposition of low cost alone but for a value proposition of Indian engineering. I am yet to meet someone who got angry when somebody compared us with China’s low-cost proposition.
In my personal opinion, our ‘boycott Chinese’ movement is of no value if we used to respect China till just five months back. We are the ones who will help rebuild China again if we fail to align ourselves with the long drawn engineering vision of our own leader.
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.