Hours before leaving for the United States, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his latest marketing push to hardsell India as a cost-competitive global manufacturing hub on Thursday, in the presence of hundreds of global and Indian business leaders, diplomats, ministers and others.
Following up on his Independence Day speech, when he had made an appeal to global manufacturers to “Make in India”, Modi, who spoke after nine heads of domestic and global companies endorsed India’s credentials as a manufacturing destination, buttressed the need to make India an easier place to do business in.
In his speech, Modi mentioned a recent meeting he had with the visiting World Bank chief to discuss India’s current ranking of 134 on the Bank’s annual “ease of doing business” list, and asserted that he would aim for a much higher ranking. He said he hoped to see India climb to the top 50. He said the government could achieve this if it worked steadfastly towards this goal.
The two-hour long event was broadcast live across India and to diplomatic missions abroad, where local industry leaders were invited to witness the launch of Modi’s “Make in India” campaign here.
Among the corporate heads who were roped in to show support were Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry, RIL CMD Mukesh Ambani, Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, ITC Chairman Y C Deveshwar, Maruti Suzuki India Managing Director Kenichi Ayukawa, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co CEO Phil Shaw. A new website went live after Modi formally inaugurated the campaign, along with a new symbol — a lion made of cogwheels.
Besides improving the ease of doing business, the key focus of the campaign was on public-private-partnerships and harnessing the potential of “Democracy, Demography and Demand”.
Terming the development of India as a “collective responsibility”, Modi said, “We must stress on two FDIs — First Develop India and Foreign Direct Investment… For Indians, FDI is a responsibility, it means to First Develop India. For global investors, FDI is an opportunity in the form of Foreign Direct Investment.”
Modi said 21 industrial clusters, cutting across sectors, have been earmarked to be offered to investors. While acknowledging that removing some of the constraints could take time, Modi said: “Here is a government that is dedicated to development…it is an article of faith.”
Focusing on the manufacturing sector’s possible impact on job creation, Modi said, “We need to enhance the purchasing power of Indians. We need to create jobs to move poor to the middle class bracket… Treat India as not just a market. See every Indian as an opportunity to increase their purchasing power.”
The Prime Minister said the government is taking necessary steps to skill the manpower as per industry requirements for development and growth-oriented employment. Targeting 3,000-odd manufacturing companies across the globe, the Centre has already firmed up a panel of experts and nodal officers from across different departments to resolve problems faced by global firms while investing in India.
It is also looking at delicensing and deregulating sectors while focusing on a “quick response mechanism” to address concerns of investors. Modi said the government has also liberalised FDI regime in the defence, railways and construction sectors to give a push to the manufacturing sector.
Among the top chief executives who spoke, Tata Sons’ Mistry said timely initiative provides opportunity to work and make India truly globally competitive. “The biggest challenge is creation of employment. This will have to be done through manufacturing. However, India has two strategic advantages — human capital and market of scale and growth,” he said.
Kumar Mangalam Birla said the launch of “Make in India” mission “coincided with the spectacular success of Mangalyaan’s Mars Mission, with India’s triumph in outer space embodying frugal homegrown engineering through zero defects, teamwork, precision…”
Industry bodies including FICCI and CII had also organised simultaneous functions across the country, while embassies and missions abroad had invited corporates for the mega launch.