For a nation moving out from a pandemic-induced lockdown, the economic impact is estimated to be huge.
From job losses to supply chains being disrupted to migrant labour having reverse-migrated, to say that the scenario is grim would be an understatement.
As India ‘unlocks’ economic activity post the lockdown, there are a few ‘home truths’ which need to be implemented, to ensure people get out of the challenging situation. So, import less; consume more of domestic products; support the economy by local as basic measures to rekindle economic revival post-COVID disruption.
The Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign is a pathway to turn adversity into opportunity. The aim is not just to get out of the economic depression but to grab the new opportunities for becoming the next global manufacturing and international supply chain hub. For this to happen, India needs to work at three levels – manufacturing, consumers and government policy. The central government has shown interest and made the intention of developing an Ease of doing Business environment visible through its policy announcements and fiscal packages. The moot question remains in translation from just being a slogan to actual implementation and execution on the ground.
Over the years, India and Indians have debated on the snob value when it comes to how to consume global brands in comparison to the local. To fuel the quick economic growth via bolstering domestic consumption, the clarion call ‘Vocal for Local’ by Hon’ble PMO takes centre stage.
As global supply chains snapped and led to a shortfall across industries, domestic manufacturers heard the knocks of opportunity. The point is whether India Inc, specially the MSME sector, rises to face the challenge and offers high quality – competitively priced products. And, the arguable point is whether the consumer will turn away from the snob value attached to global brands, and buy local.
Economic reset is happening globally, be it from global manufacturing hubs to international supply chains, there is a surge of sentiments world-wide that desires paradigm shift. For a developing nation like India marching towards becoming ‘Atmanirbhar’, the challenge lies ahead in setting up the long term process. The manufacturing sector will have to meet global standards, pushed by positive moves from domestic consumers, with support from policy makers
The Vocal for Local campaign is intended to optimize the uncharted opportunities opened up for India to conquer the global leader position in international trade and commerce. As COVID-19 shut down global supply chains, for India, the importance of domestic production became apparent to reduce external dependency. To make this happen, the Indian economy needs to be strong from within i.e. self-reliant.
It is not about ‘becoming an island’ and cutting oneself off from the rest of the world – instead, it focusses on inclusivity with the rest of the world. When India fought for its freedom against colonial rule, it was termed as the ‘Swadeshi’ movement. The humble charkha was the symbol of change, with Indians opting for khadi over imported fabrics.
To make this happen, the Indian economy needs to be strong from within i.e. self-reliant. And it is in fitness of things that the Hon’ble Prime Minister, echoing the sentiments of the countrymen, said, “We need to be a self-reliant nation i.e. ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. For which, we need to be ‘Vocal for Local’.” With positive policy reforms, global best practices being implemented in production, and consumers opting for local, it will become a reality. A holistic India-centric approach, with all stakeholders thinking in unison will make India a global economic powerhouse. The Prime Minister’s call, ‘Vocal for Local’ has laid the foundation for a strong, self-reliant India. It is time for us to contribute meaningfully towards this vision.
Dr. Niranjan Hiranandani is President (National) Assocham and NAREDCO