Self-Reliant India - Paradox Between Wish and Reality?

The boycott China and Chinese products are a new rage these days. As called by our honorable PM, everyone is nurturing the dreams of an ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat' or Self-reliant India. How many of us know the odds of realizing this wonderful dream? Read on to know.

“In times of crisis, this local has fulfilled our demand; this local has saved us. Local is not just the need; it is our responsibility also” The PM had said while addressing the nation on 12th May 2020. He listed out five ‘I’s to make India a self-reliant economy namely the intent, inclusion, investment, infrastructure, and innovation that are of utmost importance. The need arose from the requirement of PPE kits, which fell short during the sudden outbreak of the pandemic. Though India covered up pretty well, under these uncertain circumstances when everything had come to a standstill and our small producers being the most hard-hit, it had become imperative to bring the economy back to track and make our country a self-sufficient and independent of foreign good and services. 

What Is Self-Reliance?

Self-reliance for India is the compilation of various policies that aim at making our country self-sufficient in terms of goods and services so that our country’s money remains in India which would uplift our producers and in-turn our economy.

Make in India: This initiative was launched to encourage companies to manufacture in India with proper investments and technology. This is more crucial for self-reliance because it would allow our country to be self-dependent for capital, jobs, skills, technology, and infrastructure. India should not only be able to create for itself only but also create for the world. 

Vocal for Local: Vocal for local movement calls out the citizens to shop local and from small indigenous producers rather and promote their sales so that our resources are utilized in a better manner, and we won’t need to import from outside. Now, it is time to be vocal about local products, which aren’t only assembled in India but are completely produced locally and help them become global. Made in India should be the consumer's first choice.

 Why Self-Reliance?

The “Self-Reliant India” package of Rupees 20 lakh crore was announced for reviving an ailing economy in the post-lockdown scenario in the midst of the siege by Covid-19. Amid the border tensions with China, and banning Chinese apps, it has become imperative to cease the dependence on China for goods import completely. We can’t outright ban the imports from China and other countries due to the regulations of WTO (World Trade Organisation), but we can make our markets self-sufficient so that there’s less demand for foreign imports. We need to become self-reliant in the fields of defense, technology, and food so that more investment comes to India, while there’s lesser expenditure on expensive foreign imports.

Though this seems an ideal path, a new ray of hope, this sunlight is still far from touching the ground of India. Let’s uncover the realities.

Challenges to Self-Reliance:

Before the LPG reforms in India, our industries word incompetent and lacked any investment or growth. We were sort of self-reliant in production due to a lack of globalization. After globalization, the already tattered self-reliance had become non-existent.  The challenges then exist now too, after so many years.

  1. No Infrastructure: Land is a limited resource. India’s vast population density and varied topography make it difficult to make use of the full land available. The lack of connectivity, transportation and proper infrastructure makes it hard to set-up any industry.

  2. Lack of Skilled Labourers: India has an abundance of unskilled labors because of less attention to skill and vocational education. As skilled workers are unavailable, we lack the knowledge and workforce to invest in progressive research and technological advancement for contemporary industries.

  3. Primitive Technology: Today’s world is technology-driven, and its absence in India has been a major roadblock in the growth and development of modern industries. Self-reliance is impossible if we don’t update our technology game being one of the biggest consumers of technology ourselves.

  4. Difficulty in Doing Business: India ranked 63rd in Ease of Doing Business list of 190 countries 2019. It’s the mirror that starting a business in India is a voyage full of storms. One would need to get done with tonnes of paperwork and formalities along with funds and investment to start even a small business. It’s more difficult for foreign business prospects. 

Why Can’t We Be Fully Self-Reliant?

Even if we want to realise our dream of self-reliance, it’s almost virtually impossible to attain 100% of it currently because of the following reasons:

  1. Bulk Import From China: India is dependent on Chinese imports as they are in high demand as they are cheaper and technologically advanced to which currently have no solution. China identifies a big market afterwards, produces and supplies that one particular product in bulk; as a result, prices fall, and our local manufacturers with limited resource and production suffer. After establishing their market, they increase the prices and gain exponential profits. 

  2. Huge Chinese Investment: We simply can’t block the Chinese investment because most of the Indian start-ups have major investments from Chinese companies. Stopping that would cause more loss to Indian companies than Chinese ones. A lot of jobs and a major part of our swadeshi companies rely heavily on Chinese investment.

  3. No One Cares About the Country of Origin: We shop mostly online nowadays. How many of us actually care if the product is formulated in India or not? We check the price, reviews and buy whatever seems affordable and best. As long as people don’t aim for Indian made goods only, self-reliance is far fetched.

  4. Lack of Alternatives: Unless and until we find better alternatives for most of the foreign imports, it’s ludicrous to think about self-reliance. The quality of goods and services must surpass those obtained from outside. After all, there’s a reason why we consume foreign goods in the first place.

What Can We Do as a Citizen?

Although we aren’t in a condition to become self-reliant, the change must come. We must start from somewhere. Spread more awareness about this movement and don’t let it die. We must support our small businesses, sellers, and industries which get crushed by the external competition. Let’s be vocal for the right local. Individually prefer Indian brands and labels while shopping. Be a proud consumer of Indian goods. One such movement led us to our freedom from British rule; this would lead us to freedom from foreign dependence. Look for viable alternatives for imported goods wherever you can. Don’t boycott but change the preference. There’s a difference between self-isolation and self-reliance. We know where we stand, let’s move towards where we want to stand.

Written By – Saakshi Priyadarshini

Edited By- Sravanthi Cheerladinne

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