Addressing a post-budget webinar, Modi flagged electric vehicles, semiconductors, medical devices and specialty steel, and argued for shunning unwanted imports so that value addition and job creation could take place in India. He also invoked national security in what was seen as a reference to the defence sector.
“It is a losing proposition if you export raw material and import manufactured goods made from them. If a country like India is only a market (for foreign goods), then it can never progress nor give opportunities to the youth. During the global pandemic, we are seeing how supply chains have been destroyed. These days, we are seeing how the world economy has been shaken. When we see all the negative things, let’s look at the other aspect — when the situation changes and challenges come before us, the need for Make-in-India increases,” he said.
The war in Ukraine has once again put the spotlight on several items on which India depends on Russia and its neighbours such as defence products and sunflower oil and there is renewed effort to work out a strategy.
The PM’s statement comes a day after US president Joe Biden’s “let’s make it in America” call, including driving down the costs for more manufacturing.
Soon after coming to power in 2014, Modi had launched the Make-in-India campaign to push domestic manufacturing, but with limited success. Following the nationwide lockdown, he launched the Atmanirbhar Bharat and has followed it up with the production linked scheme and other measures, including higher import duty for certain focus products and their inputs.
He listed out semiconductors, specialty steel, medical equipment and electric vehicles as products where domestic manufacturing was urgently required. All the sectors are part of the nearly Rs 2 lakh crore PLI scheme with investments tied up in several sectors.
Calling Indian industry to become globally competitive, the PM said that there was a need to focus on quality, R&D and new marketing strategies, with green sectors throwing up opportunities. He suggested that Indian producers could make “made in India” as part of the ad campaign and business strategy.
Modi said even if global competitiveness takes a while, Indian manufacturers can target the domestic market where they should be the preferred choice for consumers over a rival imported product. “We have so many festivals and the scale is huge. But even there, imported goods have created a space. Earlier local manufacturers used to fulfil the demand, we need to change and can’t stay in the old mould. Indian industry should take the lead,” he said, adding that the “vocal for local” didn’t mean only buying locally-produced diyas on Diwali.
While suggesting that Indian consumers should draw up a list of products that are domestically manufactured in their consumption basket, he also urged industry to identify products where import substitution could take place and work to achieve it in some cases within a year.