In every company across the world that has been around for a long time there are invariably a few pessimists and shirkers. In comes a new boss or a new department head and he is full of energy and spirit. He wants to change things for the better. He wants dramatic change in performance. The battle-scarred losers will tell him “don’t try all this, people have tried before and they have failed”. Some will tell him “there have been many before you and we have seen it all”. If the new boss persists they will gossip among themselves and tell others, including the good ones “Theek hai, karke dekh lene do, ek saal baad akal thikane aa jayega”. In short, they try to bring down everyone with positive energy who seeks dramatic changes for the better. They will work to ensure they are proved right and do everything possible to ensure the new boss fails. Our govts are no different.
The govts at the Centre and States are full of people who don’t want their “comfortable” life to be upset. They want the “Congress-life” of lethargy, poor customer service and corruption to continue. It is a way of life for them. When Narendra Modi talks about the attitude of “Mera kya” or “What’s in it for me” he is actually translating a popular Gujarati business phenomenon of “Maru shu”? In other words, I don’t care unless there is something in it for me. That may be good for a business transaction at an individual level but not when people in general can contribute something to the nation. In his I-Day speech these are the problems in govt that Modi talked about. That there are govts within the govt that are operating at cross purposes. Predictably, the pessimistic ones from the media and, of course, the Congress couldn’t see anything positive about Modi’s speech, his vision or his attention to key issues that touch the lives of people. They are used to grandiose BS like “Garibi Hatao” or “Aam Aadmi” bluster.
After a decade of a puppet on a string, hiding behind a glass box and reading in reverse from Urdu texts we have a Prime Minister who talks from the heart and talks extempore. Sure, Modi had cue-cards for the topics to talk about but he didn’t read from a pre-printed speech. That is another problem the media folks faced. They weren’t given any copy of the speech in advance because there was no advance copy. Nobody had a clue what Modi was going to talk about. It is only natural that even in a speech of nearly an hour, no one can touch upon all the issues that concern India. Therefore, the right thing to do would be to talk about what he did say. And Modi did touch upon many issues from toilets to sons being more responsible to avoid crimes. He talked about cleanliness and hygiene. These are things that affect every citizen. He talked mostly about things that are clearly within the control of each citizen which does not take rocket science to do. He talked to the “people” directly and not to the usual “Durbaris” and useless “Pundits” to seek any applause from them. Some of the problems he talked about can be eradicated just as the nation eradicated Polio and Small Pox. A new generation may not even have heard of small pox of which many people have died in the past or have suffered permanent blindness. One of the most important slogans from the speech is “Make in India”.
On the face of it “make in India” seems a pretty ordinary slogan but it is a powerful invitation to the world to come and produce goods here but sell anywhere they want. Let me narrate a small story; let’s become “couch-potatoes” for a few minutes. When the fast food operators came to India they found that we were mostly producing the regular potatoes that had a lot of moisture in it. French fries that are available in Mac’s or other similar outlets need potatoes with negligible moisture to be crisp and crunchy. On the highway between Ahmedabad and Mehsana if one is observant they will find this factory which is an international brand but the factory is not prominent by itself:
That’s the plant of McCain. What’s the story? To produce the variety of potatoes that are most suitable for French fries they selected the Mehsana region for a variety of reasons. The French fries use a potato-variety called “Shepody” which is long potato which negligible moisture. The farmers in and around Mehsana were taught about it and started growing the variety some years ago. They feed their stocks to McCain who then process those and feed the material to almost all the French fries outlets across India. Apart from India McCain now also exports this product to many other countries. It is a huge industry by itself. Growing the new breed of the same old potato brings a lot of employment to many farmers and others in the entire manufacturing and supply system. You could call it “Valufacturing” instead of mere manufacturing. It’s a product we already knew from childhood but it’s a different variety and it brings opportunities for a whole lot of people. The innocuous “make in India” must be taken seriously for other reasons too. Here’s some data I found on Twitter a few days back:
I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the data but let’s take it as a broad indicator. It doesn’t need Einstein to see that we are pathetic where manufacturing sector is concerned. That this needs a dramatic change will not take a flash light to see. Most of the experts who discussed Modi’s speech somehow comfortably did not relate the “make in India” to this serious problem. The low manufacturing activity can be directly related to unemployment. Unemployment leads to vices. Unemployment leads to social unrest and sometimes temptation to crimes. Unemployment leads to mass migration.
There is a history to all of this if we look carefully. The US has always been a master at “branding” and marketing. If I ask you to name 10 famous brands from the US, I am sure anyone would be able to recall them. But try naming 10 Chinese brands that are internationally known. Can we? It is hard to do. Try naming 10 Indian brands internationally known. Can we? Of course, we have a combination of a Chinese-Indian brand that is internationally known; the “Chinese Gandhis”. But jokes apart, this is worth pondering about. People can reel out names: Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Nike, McDonalds and so on. Garments in the US are invariably made in Taiwan or even Cambodia. Given our resources and population we could have been a manufacturing giant without sacrificing our advantages in other sectors. A dramatic upward change in our industrial manufacturing output is inevitable and a must for our economic growth. The Chinese are no good at branding or marketing but they have become the manufacturing hub for the world and at rock bottom prices. No one understands this better than Narendra Modi who comes from the highly industrialised state of Gujarat.
If we have failed to realise our potential as a manufacturing giant it is solely due to the Commie policies of the Congress. There is no difference between Congress and the Commies who have kept people poor, uneducated, unskilled and unemployable. Modi stresses on skills and that is absolutely a must for us to become a manufacturing giant and also self-employment at the individual level. The new govt has already initiated steps for labour-law reforms which are essential for the manufacturing investment and growth. A dramatic growth in manufacturing also brings along with it a huge R&D set-up and the continuous process of innovation and value addition. So it’s not mere manufacturing but “Valufacturing” by a whole nation. This particular issue in Modi’s address has been undervalued by the debaters in the media in preference of many other issues.
Modi also made a call to a 10-year moratorium on riots and violence. Most of the usual pundits have interpreted this badly as postponing justice or avoiding tackling the issue. It is neither of this. A 10 year moratorium by various groups automatically implies that if they shun violence for that period it automatically becomes a HABIT. A bad habit needs to be replaced by a good one. If that habit of violence goes it has the potential to become a permanent habit. If most of the rioters were gainfully employed elsewhere they wouldn’t want their life to be shattered by riots and violence. Religion can then take a back seat in the privacy of their homes. Modi’s speech is a good departure from the past and well-meaning citizens would see energy and spirit rather than the “comfort-seeking” veterans who want to keep India where it is. The couch-potatoes have had their day and belong in the past.
Note: “Valufacture” is a term coined by Edward De Bono. Though Valufacture refers more to marketing, I have used for the manufacturing process through innovation as well.