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BW Businessworld

Interview: India’s Growth Story

Having driven many successful campaigns such as “Incredible India”, Amitabh Kant, secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, is now the key driver of the “Make in India” initiative.

Having driven many successful campaigns such as “Incredible India”, Amitabh Kant, secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, is now the key driver of the “Make in India” initiative. In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Kant answers a range of questions on the subject, and says that the “Make in India” spirit now pervades all.

Make in India was launched in 2014. Now we are having the Mumbai “Make in India” week. What is the distance that we have travelled since the launch?
One of the key objectives of Make in India was to open up India’s economy. We opened up all sectors of the economy for foreign direct investment (FDI). Defence, railways, construction, insurance, pension funds… we have opened up 15 other sectors. The total inflow of FDI in the last 19 months has grown 48 per cent, which is against the global backdrop of 16 per cent fall.

We had said that we will make India an easier and simpler place to do business. We have focused very strongly on ease of doing business. India’s position improved by 12 ranks; better results would come this year. We also did a competition among states and ranked them.

Thirdly, we had said we would focus on innovation and design, and improve productivity in India. We have finalised the new intellectual property rights (IPR) policy. That should get approved shortly by the Cabinet.

Simultaneously, we think that there should be an emphasis on young manufacturers. We are focusing very strongly on the startup movement.

For the Make in India initiative, we drew up an action plan for 25 sectors. We did a one-year and a three-year action plan. This is being monitored by the Cabinet Secretary.

We are on the right course. Structural transformation is taking place. If manufacturing is to grow, major transformation in India’s economy must take place.

Now we are talking about Make in India 2.0. What does that entail?
We have so far focused on opening up various sectors of the economy. There are a few critical things. One is, India in the long term cannot run only on FDI. We must provide fillip to the domestic industry. We have gone around; I have held roadshows to see what we can do for the Indian enterprise. If India is to grow in the long run, it must give due importance to the domestic industry. We will work in partnership with them.

We have pushed for, and we will keep pushing for policy changes. Policy changes like the bankruptcy code, national company law tribunal… we are pushing for those changes.Third, version 2.0 involves encouraging young people to become innovators, designers and to do their own business. And that is what we have tried to push through the startup initiative.

You are driving the Make in India programme. How close or direct is the PM and PMO’s involvement?
The PMO is directly involved. The vision is that of the Prime Minister. The PMO constantly reviews and monitors the progress of the initiative. The PM’s Principal Secretary regularly holds meetings on ease of doing business. In vast numbers of areas, the PMO has pushed for change. The Cabinet Secretary has also been monitoring and reviewing ease of doing business and action plan for Make in India.

These are long-term strategies and plans. When will we see results on the ground?
Results have already started showing. Are you aware that in the last one year, 50 new mobile manufacturers have come to India? Indians expect results overnight. You should give the government three to four years.

How big is land an issue for a new manufacturing wave?
Land acquisition is not an issue now. It may become an issue later. Under the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor, Chennai-Bangalore corridor, Chennai-Vizag corridor, we have been able to get a lot of land from the states. But states will have to move forward both on labour and land.

After your assignment in the DIPP you are headed to Niti Aayog as the CEO. Is there an underlying message that the Make in India spirit pervades various institutions?
I feel that. Silos have been broken down, from defence to textiles, to chemicals to pharmaceuticals, there’s the same feeling, including revenue and tax, and economic affairs – that we must become a manufacturing nation.

A recent CII-BCG report said that the pace at which we are moving, our targets — whether it’s in manufacturing or creating jobs — may not be achieved. What do you think?
We have set very ambitious targets. It’s always good for critics to say that those targets may not be achieved. But I am sure they are achievable.

With exports falling, other economic indicators not very sound, the RBI financial stability report painting a somewhat dim picture, there’s this talk of an economic downturn. Does that sit well with the mood of optimism that you have?
There’s a global slowdown. We are not riding a wave of global growth. In the midst of this slowdown, India, an oasis of growth, is growing at 7.4 per cent. We need to maintain this rate.


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