By Tathagata Satpathy, ex-MP

PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi has, in his Mann Ki Baat radio programme this Sunday, made a renewed appeal for purchasing and promoting local ‘Made In India’ items. Notably, this has been the PM’s theme ever since the start of his first term in 2014 when he came up with the Make In India slogan. How much progress India has achieved in this respect in recent years, or the lack of it, is evident from the way Chinese items have flooded the Indian markets. Slogans were not limited to just this one scheme. It was followed by many others such as Stand Up India, Walk Away India and so on. All such slogans actually made many crooked but state-favoured businessmen walk away from India with all our money.

At the same time, official claims are that the manufacturing sector has the ‘potential’ to reach a level of $1 trillion by 2025. This may sound as a tall claim since the government is also claiming in the same breath that India would attain a rank among the top three manufacturing destinations of the world soon. This claim is particularly hilarious as the government itself has not made any efforts at projecting India as a safe and secure option for foreign investments.

To imagine that Indian corporates can undertake the task of meeting indigenous demands of a variety of products is similar to asking for a slice of the moon. Today, the situation that we see in India is an outcome of government-corporate bonhomie at the cost of the nation’s taxpayers. Indian corporates have never made the effort to have a long-term goal of being long-term players. Our corporates have survived for long only because no competition is allowed to thrive. This is where the government has abetted the crimes of the Indian corporates.

It is easier to understand this scenario if it is juxtaposed to the event of movie star Sushant Singh Rajput. This young actor, we are told, was highly talented and had won the hearts of millions of viewers. However, his popularity and abilities turned out to be his biggest enemies. The well- entrenched Bombay film world personalities were mighty threatened by the non-film family youngster who emerged with promise. Sushant Singh may not have been the only one in the film industry to have perished before shining.

Similarly, the Indian corporate world also does not permit random growth of new players. To attain their targets, the all-powerful Bombay club type personalities have always used governmental methods of oppressing and destroying new entrepreneurs. This has resulted in India not being able to create many small and medium industrialists or businessmen who could have met the challenge of Make In India now. Our system has always preferred to encourage growth of traders and shopkeepers.

Conveniently forgetting Make In India because it made no headway, the Union government is now pitching the new Atma Nirbhar scheme claiming that every Indian should be self-sufficient. Like Make In India, this new Atma Nirbhar slogan sounds pretty logical. But then, the preacher must show the path by practising what is preached. In other words, the Union Government must first become self-sufficient and not collect billions through a devious indirect taxation system. If the government thinks fit to increase gas, diesel and petrol prices virtually every day to fill its coffers so that it can implement these fancy named programmes, then it becomes extremely difficult for the poor of India to be Atma Nirbhar.

No doubt, the media caters to only a certain part of the population. It is these very people who sat in the comfort of their homes and appreciated the visuals of inhumanities heaped on the migrant labourers by the police. It is these people who presume their cities, amenities and work or business are the direct outcome of their petty little income tax payments. We have to remember that a nation is created with the labour of millions. Therefore, to consider the migrant labourer as deserving subjects of police brutality is a demonstration of a mindset that is unwilling to accept others’ contributions towards our own well-being.

Unfortunately, the Union Government seems to be catering to this very crowd. For instance, when China has killed 20 young Indian soldiers, the government thinks it fit to divert attention and blame the Opposition. The party in power conveniently forgets that it, too, has been in the saddle for the seventh year now. That is a long enough time to stop blaming the past and actively contribute towards course correction.


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