Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said the Centre’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ initiative cannot succeed if ‘Skill India’ does not succeed. ‘Skill India’ will, in turn, triumph only when several other parameters, including those related to education and research, were developed “on par with world standards”, he added. Asked if India was jumping into a service sector-led economy, Chidambaram said that was “inevitable”.
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“That is inevitable. If China can make firecrackers which are cheaper and safer than your crackers, Chinese crackers will come to India…that is inevitable,” he said. Answering questions from IIT-Madras students after delivering a lecture on economic reforms in India, the Congress leader said, “Unless you develop a competitive edge in production, you cannot outcompete the other producers.”
“Why are we becoming a service economy more than an industrial economy? It is because we have acquired a competitive edge in providing services. Therefore, Make in India will succeed only if Skill India succeeds and Skill India will succeed only when your educational standards meet the world’s standards.
“So, if you want to become an industrial economy, you cannot say this is what I produce and therefore, you consume it. Nobody will consume it today,” he added. Chidambaram said the country has to produce goods which are “equal to the world’s goods”.
“Because we produce services which are equal to or better than the world’s services…our economy is fast becoming a service economy,” he said, adding that this can be reversed “only when you invest in education, especially technical education, research, development, skills in Indian workers and then making in India and for the world”.
“We seem to be going the wrong way. You start with ‘Make in India’. What can you make in India? Unless you are able to compete with what is made in China, Korea, Finland or wherever. You have to make in India what is equal to or better than what is made in the rest of the world,” Chidambaram said.
In August, the former Union finance minister had described ‘Make in India’ as an “event management initiative” while speaking to students in Bengaluru.