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BW Businessworld

Going Forward Or Backward?

According to the organisers — the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the government of Maharashtra and Confederation Indian Industries — some 2,094 MoUs were signed during the event for new investments with a total commitment of Rs 15.20 lakh crore.

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The Make In India Week, India’s largest ever manufacturing campaign held in Mumbai recently, attracted world attention. Government heads, diplomats, and trade and business delegations from several countries participated alongside state governments and thousands of home-grown companies.

Aimed at providing a platform for global business executives, think tanks, policy makers, diplomats and political leaders to meet and discuss India’s manufacturing prowess, the mega event that cost about Rs 100 crore had an extensive line up of exhibitions, investment meets, industry seminars and policy rollouts by central and state governments.

Some 150 seminars and side events were organised under the Make In India platform. More than 25,000 people participated in these seminars and symposia, where over 1,200 experts from various walks of life including ministers, policy makers, industrialists, academicians and spiritual gurus spoke on a wide range of issues concerning business and society.

According to the organisers — the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the government of Maharashtra and Confederation Indian Industries — some 2,094 MoUs were signed during the event for new investments with a total commitment of Rs 15.20 lakh crore.

Although the week-long event received overwhelming response from both India and abroad, a large section of Indian entrepreneurs and industry analysts are unhappy as several basic issues that are blocking the real industrial growth in the country, especially in the manufacturing sector, remain unaddressed. Many leading Indian entrepreneurs even say that Make in India pitch should be guarded against exploitation.

“The Make in India call should be guarded against an attempt by companies to turn India into a sweatshop for the world,” said Anand Mahindra, chairman and manging director of Mahindra Group, during a panel discussion at the event.

Addressing the media on the closing day, DIPP secretary Amitabh Kant said, “Make In India Week has been a phenomenal hit and it has successfully brought manufacturing, design and innovation to the centre-stage.” But critics say that unless the commitments are translated into real deployment, they will remain mere marketing claims.

The key investment commitments during the event include the deals between Sterlite Group company Twinstar Display Technologies and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation for an LCD manufacturing unit in technical collaboration with Autron of Taiwan; BAE Systems and Mahindra for assembling and testing of M777 Howitzers; Gujarat government and Vestas (Denmark) for manufacture of wind mill blades; and Gujarat government and Tar Kovacs Systems (France) for developing offshore platforms for marine applications.

Oracle’s $400 million investment plan in India, Mahindra & Mahindra’s Rs 8,000 crore expansion plan, Raymond Industries’ Rs 1,400 crore project for manufacturing linen yarn and fabric facility, Mercedes’s Rs 1,500 crore expansion project and JSW Steel’s Rs 6,000 crore Jaigarh Port were some other high investment deals signed at the event.

There is no clarity on the time frame for the investment deployment, though the outgoing DIPP secretary and the key strategist of Make in India campaign Kant indicated at the concluding session that the implementation time will vary from project to project but most of them are likely to start in the next 4 to 5 years.

Critics say the real issues in the country’s industrial front are still the complicated and unpredictable licensing and permission regime, apart from the various tax anomalies. “No big campaigns and marketing attempts such as Make in India can pull the global investors to India unless these issues are resolved,” says a leading pharma and biotech entrepreneur, adding that if India actually wants the manufacturing sector to grow, it should just encourage its own new and existing entrepreneurs in the micro, small and medium sector to grow.

“If you have to build Brand India, you have to first build global Indian brands,” said Mahindra.

Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the $40-billion Aditya Birla Group, also said that any idea of promoting India as just a manufacturing base is misleading. “Especially in the last ten years, there is a sense of pride in India’s entrepreneurship unlike before,” said Birla, adding that Indian manufacturers have been at the forefront of innovation as well as devising sustainable manufacturing processes.

Key policy announcements at the event include the Rs 2,200-crore Electronics Development Fund unveiled by the communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to finance innovations, research and development in the electronics manufacturing sector; the National Capital Goods policy unveiled by the heavy industries minister Anant Geete to create an ecosystem for a globally competitive capital goods sector; investment opportunities in the food processing industry by Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal; and the e-toll policy covering 360 toll plazas on the national highways across the country. Several state specific policies were also announced by Maharashtra, Odisha, Jharkand and Chattisgarh governments, among others.

Among the 17 states that participated in the event, Maharashtra received the maximum commitment. “Maharashtra was successful in attracting investment worth Rs 8 lakh crore across sectors,” said chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.