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Friday, April 16, 2021

Modi for self-reliant India: Feasible? The ‘Go Desi’ plan explained here

It took a pandemic to teach us several important lessons. For e.g. focusing on health infrastructure, improving hygiene and curtailing the “excess” from lives. Aiming for self-reliant India is another lesson that Covid-19 taught us.

PM Narendra Modi listed out five ‘I’ – Intent, Inclusion, Investment, Infrastructure and Innovation – to develop a self-reliant India.

We all know our economy hit the rock bottom following nationwide lockdown since March. Even in the pre-Covid-19 world, India’s economy show was pretty poor.

“Obviously, Covid-19 amplifies a lot of the challenges but we’ve been pointing to a lot of negative trends even before Covid-19,” Gene Fang, associate managing director-sovereign risk at Moody’s Investor Service, told BloombergQuint.

Still the PM on Monday told industry leaders “trust me” (#ModiHaiTohMumkin Hai?), the growth will bounce back in the lines of “self-reliant India”. The government will take four steps to extend help if industries take two, Modi added.

Here’s the Centre’s 6-point road map for self-reliant India

  1. The government has asked footwear, furniture, cellphone and electronic goods, jewelry, textile, capital goods and machinery, garments and pharmaceuticals to cut imports. Think desi, live desi!
  2. The department of promotion for industry and internal trade has consulted the issue with other ministries concerned. It said India has a natural advantage in these sectors that can help the country get a strong foothold in the global value chain. No more drooling over “foreign goods”.
  3. Various stakeholders and industry leaders have been roped in to brainstorm how to reduce India’s economic dependency, ensure growth and create employments. For example, our AC industry, a Rs 12,000-crore market, is heavily dependent on Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam and of course China for compressors. Therefore, India has to pay around 60-65% to these countries of an AC’s total price. While we only get a peanut share!
  4. The Indian government is considering to launch quality control measures so that our indigenous products can match global standards.
  5. India’s central police canteens have already started removing imported products from its shelves.
  6. On Tuesday, India has asked for applications from companies, seeking investments within the country under the electronics manufacturing scheme.

Modi said if we can make bulk PPE kits within a month worth crores of rupees, we should carry forward the lesson in terms of economic reforms as well. Overall, it does sound like a good initiative. The social media is already full with “ban-China/ban-Chinsese goods” memes and hilarious insights. Some even talk of banning chowmin and chili chicken!!!

Experts take the Centre’s idea with a pinch of salt

“With Atmanirbhar Bharat, there is a danger of India going back to an important substitution framework which may not be quite appropriate in the 21st century. Taking this path could also be quite daunting, as the financial and technological resources required to be very high,” Biswajit Dhar, a JNU economics professor, told The Indian Express.

The experts believe we need to choose sectors strategically to make India a self-reliant economy. The Centre should launch measures to increase demand in the domestic market and consider issues related to consumer safety and national security, they suggest.

So what do the experts prescribe?

  • Reboot the economy in two ways, structural reforms and fiscal stimulus or combine both.
  • The Indian government should consider borrowing in foreign currency from abroad, either directly or via PSUs.
  • They should float tax-free Covid-19 bond for $15 billion for non-residents, especially NRIs.
  • The Centre may ask for concessional loans from IMF, World Bank.

We all hope for a self-reliant India. And want activities to resume, people to start working, sales to go up and demands to meet targets as studies say Indians are more scared of the battered economy than the virus.

Don’t know how much self-sufficient India can be in terms of economy, but our Bollywood will definitely come up with a movie on this, starring Akshay Kumar, our very own Akki! What’s say?

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