Man Mohan and Manufacturing

The world has certainly changed. In our life time, we have seen India looking to America to provide food grains to feed Indians and the machine tools to build its manufacturing sector and financing it. Indian Prime Ministers might have been showing the same indifference to America that American Presidents used to do to India. Every time Pakistan used to get an equal or better deal. I don’t remember any good news of yester years about close Indo-US relation but for a photo in media of Nehru Jacqueline Kennedy walking together.

In 2010, American President is touring India to get contracts signed to keep the left-out high tech manufacturing sector of American survive and running. As reported, “Several landmark” deals worth $10 billion (nearly Rs. 44,000 crore) have been reached between the two countries for creating about 50,000 jobs in the US Reliance Power will buy $750 million worth of power equipment from GE for 2,400 MW plants. Low-cost carrier Spicejet announced a deal to buy 33 new-generation 737 aircrafts from Boeing. And there will be many more contracts of Indian defence requirements going to America.

US expects India to open its retail sector. Indian companies are investing in US and providing jobs to Americans in US as well as in India. US treats India as equal partner to mutually benefit. And there is reason for excitement. For example, Mukesh has promised for making huge investments in the US and interestingly, according to him, the creation of one job in the US can lead to six jobs in India. It’s certainly a win-win situation, as Obama confirms.

It might not be very exciting for younger generations of Indians but for persons like me, it’s a great forward leap for India.
However, at least the meet has not announced any major US investment in manufacturing sector of India. Unfortunately, India will have to keep on depending on US and other developed countries or on China for high-tech industrial products. There are very few like Ratan Tata in India who can transform a truck manufacturing company into a globally respected passenger car enterprise. Bajaj Auto and M&M may also grow into full fledged auto manufacturing covering the whole range. I would have been happy if Anil or Mukesh would have entered in manufacturing in big way in areas of new technologies.

I fail to understand why India can’t have its own aircraft manufacturing when it can claim to build Chnadrayan and missiles of all sophistication. Why couldn’t HAL in all fifty plus years develop the capability? Why can’t the government wound up its venture like Air India and focus on HAL or encourage the private companies such as M&M or Tata to get into the sector in big way.

It is the same attitude and lack of foresight that has kept India still without electricity for all that should be the basic right of every citizen.

How could a country of India’s size depend on one company named BHEL for the manufacturing of power equipment, even though it is exceptionally better managed among the government companies? Why would have Anil Ambani ordered his requirement of power equipment worth billions of dollars to a Chinese company and now to GE Fortunately, with changes in the policy some reputed private companies such as L&T, and Bharat Forge have taken the plunge in the sector.

Obama considers India as a defining and indispensable partner of the 21st century. And we feel happy. I wish Man Mohan would have put his ambitions of making India a global manufacturing power in clear words and appealed to big and small business houses and entrepreneurs to go whole hog for it with the government removing all constraints for starting new businesses.

Let the Chinese not fill all the retail shops of India for general consumers with their cheap commodities and supply all the requirements of the Indian government departments with help of its money power and unscrupulous means alluring those who matter to get the contracts.

Let US companies set up its manufacturing facilities in India as they did in China. Let Man Mohan come out with those reforms that make it possible and for whom he is known.

PS: Obama‘s Speech in Indian parliament and the joint statement on November 8, 2010

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