Lemon Gupshup: Being Ātmanirbhar

By Vaibhav Singh, Hindu College

Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the greatest thought process of all time for the welfare of the nation. This Corona Era has taught and forced to think us about ‘Ātmanirbhar Bhārat’. In this era, the transportation of beings and goods is interrupted and interspersed. Prime minister says to be frank and vocal for our local products and he appealed to have faith in goods produced in the local mechanism. This means we should try to adore the work beauty of local fabrics. We should also try to make our villages Ātmanirbhar. Prime minister also wrote for the coding of ‘Ātmanirbhar Bhārat’ on LinkedIn.

Prime minister writes ‘India has a very vibrant tech and start up ecosystem, which has done India proud nationally as well as globally. Our youngsters have excelled in providing tech solutions across sectors. The Covid-19 Pandemic has also brought about a big disruption, which is being tackled through the use of technology to aid our day to day lives. We all know the huge potential of our market and the scale products can achieve if they can satisfy the demands of the market. Nowadays, we are seeing huge interest & enthusiasm among the start-up and tech ecosystem to innovate, develop and promote homegrown apps. Today, when the entire nation is working towards creating an Ātmanirbhar Bhārat, it is a good opportunity to give direction to their efforts, momentum to their hard-work and mentorship to their talent to evolve Apps which can satisfy our market as well as compete with the world. To help our start-up and tech community achieve this objective, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology along with Atal Innovation Mission are coming up with the Ātmanirbhar Bhārat Innovation challenge. This shall run in two tracks: Promotion of Existing Apps and Development of New Apps.’

India is diverse in every manner. Every single district, province and even village has its own speciality. But, in lack of promotion and admiration, these specialities are becoming extinct. At the local level, in the lack of admiration, marketing, storage mechanism, peasants are not getting the worth, they deserve. On the other hand, the possibilities for export are also decreasing. Sometimes, because of these mal-mechanics, the state has to import at large measures. If we talk about manufacturing, most of the districts are known for their traditional and ethnic industries. Benares for Sāris, Bhadohi for Galeechās, Ludhiana for Bi-cycles and Hosieries, Nagpur for orange-derived products are world-famous. There are many reasons for the decay of these clusters. Some of them are Chinese-dumping, administrative ignorance, lack of capitals, lack of new technologies and moreover, lack of admirations by the state.

After 1991, India developed a sudden interest in globalization. In the pressure and influence of multinational companies, it became a crime-like deed to promote the indigenous MSMEs. Today, when we are talking about Ātmanirbhar Bhārat, then we are talking about the restoration and promotion of local specialities. The protection of centre and state and the proper administrative guidance will blow life into these local products and the people associated with this. Taking lessons from this pandemic, if the state and local bodies will try to reverberate this ill-manufacturing then capitals and employment are certainly going to increase. Life standards will also improve. One thing, everyone should understand is, that all the imports cannot be stopped at once. It will take time and patience and hard work for India to be Ātmanirbhar as Morcheeba sings in one of its songs ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. We have to prepare ourselves for the expected trade restrictions from China. Most of the imports from China are manufacturable in India itself. For examples, we can look over the apparatus of 5G networks and railways. Reliance is ready to manufacture 5Gapparatus indigenously. Some of the imports are totally baseless. Steel, Chemicals, Machinery, Vehicles, Fertilizers, Pesticides, these are the products we import from China at large scale. We can produce these products easily in our own country with a bit of will power of the state. There is no rocket science and deep technology needed to produce these products. From a long time, we are producing API (Active Pharmaceuticals Ingredients) as raw materials for the medicines. We just have to learn to put the right things on the right places. Pharmaceutical industries can be rejuvenated with very limited capitals. Center has also allotted 11 thousand crores for this. Other than this, telecom, electronics can also be promoted for indigenous production. And Reliance Industries Limited is moving in the right direction for this.

Some people and entrepreneurs are also having doubtful eyes on Ātmanirbhar Bhārat. Such people are believing that in this era of globalization and brands, we are attached to the rest of the world to that extent that our efforts toward Ātmanirbhartā (Self- Reliance) will go in vain. It will be proving back-tending and trade-suicide for us. Yes! We know that to grow indigenous industries, we have to increase import duty on goods and if needed, we also have to implant anti-doping and safeguard duties. We have to make certain standards for goods to enter in India but, this present resolution of government cannot be articulated PROTECTIONISM. We should understand that protectionism before 1991 was the root cause of unskilled industrialization and entrepreneurship. In that era, India used to put high custom-duty (100-600%) on goods and this turned against us only. After WTO, these high duties on goods demolished. Still, WTO provides provisions to countries to develop industries of its own interests. In the last 2 years, the trade deficit with China jumped down from 63.2 Arab Dollars to 48.6 Arab Dollars. Almost all the countries put tariffs for the protection and development of its industries, then why not India. When almost all the nations are increasing import duties in the name of trade-war then, this free-trade attitude of India will be a suicidal approach for its industries. We have to understand that this decay of MSMEs because of this low import duty on Chinese goods is not going to be beneficial for the country. Today the most important thing to do is to promote what is ours. After the improvement of living standards of Indian, we can manufacture world-class product for exporting too. All nations are protecting their things than protecting our special craft and special arts and industries will not be counted as protectionism as per the provisions of WTO too. In-fact this attitude towards the industries can solve all of our problems.

One of my friends asked one day, ‘Vaibhav, you can see lots of businesses closing and running in loss, and people are not starting new businesses now, because of the pandemic?” I was surprised and unanswered because the opposite is actually true. When something natural and unexpected strikes us at sudden, we can not answer but by the time we find solutions and answers. The human race is amazingly adaptive and responsive to change. If we believe Charles Robert Darwin theory of evolution, then we can say firmly that we existed only because of our style to telling stories. We developed symbiosis to others convinced them to our stories and make them part of our stories. This is how the world works. Same is business, pre-existing MSME’s are responding to the new reality of what they can and can’t do during this pandemic. They are also thinking of different ways of utilizing the skills and human resources as well as they have to maintain productivity. Luxurious costume designer companies are making face masks at a larger scale. We can also take the example of Dyson. Vacuum cleaners aren’t rolling off their production lines these months, but rather ventilators to equip our health workers with the kit they need. Famous tourist destinations are closed for tourists but open to their key workers in a different work role. For example, in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, there is a beautiful Hostel for tourists to stay. There are key workers for washing and cleaning and cooking. In this tough time, the owner indulged them in farming.

On a more basic and grass root level, new entrepreneurs are coming up with ideas to help people during this crisis too. Creating an online setup for our children who can no longer learn in a classroom environment, setting up delivery services at a larger scale as we never felt such emergence of delivery before. New-new applications are popping out every day for the ease of livelihood. I, as a person, felt the severe requirement of these indigenous applications for my Open book examination in university. There is a lot to do. Plastics firms are creating new products to meet the surge in demand. Plumbers are making videos and offering telephone consultations to customers, talking them through fixing their own taps and showers. Electricians are starting Youtube channels for the basic fix. We can see the boom in Youtube channels after lockdown. Here at Lemon Ideas, Business Growth team are open for business as usual, albeit via zoom or google meet called. We are all about embracing technology and innovation to drive growth and to be ‘Ātmanirbhar Bhārat’. We are always here to help and support and incubate business through this time, to help them build and grow using the ideas, energy and skills they already have. It is more like the Granny’s adage, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.