The ‘Made in China’ label plastered on everything from iPhones to bubble blowers may soon become less ubiquitous if Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has his way.
Mr Modi was front and centre at an event in New Delhi on Thursday as he unveiled ‘Make in India’, an ambitious new program aimed at making India the world’s next big manufacturing hub.
Addressing some of the country’s wealthiest individuals – many of them basking in the glow of being named to Forbes magazine’s annual list of India’s richest – Mr Modi promised a raft of measures that would help transform his country into a centre for high-tech manufacturing, promising better measures for companies seeking clearances as well as better logistical systems for potential investors.
Mr Modi acknowledged that the trust between the government and corporate sector had been eroded and promised to put that right.
“We do not want any industrialist being forced to leave India. A trust was broken — that when a policy will be changed, when will the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) come.
“This is what I heard from all you. The biggest issue is trust. Why don’t we trust each other? I want to change that.”
Mr Modi said he was saddened to see scores of Indians leaving the country seeking greener pastures abroad and said that ‘Make In India’ would entice them as well as foreign investors back.
“After what we have done and what I hear from you, I don’t think I need to assure you any further on ‘Make in India’.
A day before the unveiling, government officials revealed new steps to make it easier for foreign businesses to start operations in India, including online license applications whilst the validity of licenses have also been extended to three years from the previous 12 months.
“Make in India is not a slogan but a mission to be accomplished with a single-minded commitment”, said Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The manufacturing sector makes up just 15% of India’s vast economy. The government aims to raise that figure to 25%.
The new campaign was duly applauded by key industrialists with Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry calling it a “timely opportunity to make India truly global”.
India’s richest individual, Reliance Industries honcho Mukesh Ambani said: “Today we commit ourselves to the ‘Make in India’ movement that was given to us by our beloved prime minister.
Mr Modi’s mission is a gargantuan one given that key ingredients for manufacturing – in particular infrastructure and energy provision – remain in a shambolic state in many parts of India.
Add to that the keenness of the far more efficient Chinese government to safeguard its country’s reputation as the world’s factory floor.
Just as Mr Modi was revealing the snazzy new lion logo of the Make In India campaign, the Chinese government unveiled a slew of new tax concessions for companies in the manufacturing sector aimed at encouraging high-tech imports and the establishment of research and development facilities.
Under the new campaign China will use tax breaks to encourage enterprises to upgrade their equipment and increase R&D efforts to improve the manufacturing industry.
According to reports, the new measures from Beijing will be particularly beneficial for the aviation, biotechnology and electronics sectors.