Indian Manufacturing at Crossroad

The manufacturing sector is seeing activity build up in almost all segments. West is looking at India a source for manufacturing too.

According to the recently provided data, the estimate for GDP growth at constant prices is 9.2 per cent for 2006-07. It is exciting because it is upon a base year growth of 9 per cent in 2005-06. The advance estimates has pegged manufacturing growth at 11.3 per cent, against 9.1 per cent a year ago, and services at 11.2 per cent (9.8 per cent a year ago). Indian manufacturing is growing at an average of 10% with growth touching 12-14% in some months. 12% was the target recommended for manufacturing sector by the NMCC to attain a double-digit growth rate to generate sufficient enough employment. Is it happening? Has the manufacturing sector changed its course to have growth with employment too or it is still a jobless growth? And can this growth of 12% be sustained?

India’s manufacturing sector can grow faster if it can create for and cater to its domestic market as well if it can create a global market for its products. Auto sectors are providing the lead where the sector is pushing fast in both the market. Domestic market is booming and export obligations are also being met. Auto component sector is feeding its domestic OEMs as well global clients. The boom can be further expanded with new innovative products at the right price. India can keep lead through its innovative products such as the Tata Motors Rs 1 lakh or a smaller smarter SUV. The success of ACE- the Minitruck of Tata Motors was an example. Similar approach by the manufacturers in all sectors of mass market will succeed. But auto sector may not help in job creations in number that is expected or desired to absorb the millions of unskilled and semiskilled unemployed men and women of India.

Indian entrepreneurs must establish many more new manufacturing units, produce many more types of innovative products, and create customers for them in the domestic as well as global market. Why can’t the textiles and apparel sector grow manifold? Why should India export cotton?

Why does India’s leather industry continue to post lower growth rates with thee largest source of raw material in the country? Is it because the entrepreneurs of the upper castes of the majority community still hesitate to go in the business?

It is the taste for the creative strength of the people of India. And naturally we will have to answer many pertinent questions.

Can India leverage its intellectual capabilities, be creative and integrate innovation into manufacturing?

Can India’s innovation follow a very different model focused on providing solutions for the masses?

Can the innovations and technologies be directed to solve the problem of acute poverty spread all over the country?

As reported, a company manufacturing automotive seats has been able to use the Poly Urethane used for manufacturing seats to make a 30% cheaper Jaipur Foot. As Newsweek reported, Rajesh Jain has come out a cost effective solution to use TV as PC.

Can it be emulated in many more areas?

Innovation goes beyond all boundaries or limits and works across sectors and applications. Indian Innovation Foundation has many such examples from the grassroots’ level? Why can’t the whole lot of people from other strata of Indian society join the innovation movement of India taking examples from those illiterate village scientists or technocrats that Prof Anil Gupta of IIM has found out? I wish the media had been covering their stories more widely.

Further, the manufacturing sector is best placed to attain inclusive growth- the need of the day. And innovation and entrepreneurship can only provide the large scale expansion of the manufacturing.

Let there be no confusion that the manufacturing and services sector together are expected to reinforce each other in India’s endeavour to become a developed country.

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