Prime Minister Narendra Modi (centre) at the launch of the program (photo: The Hindu)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his ‘Make in India’ campaign on Thursday, inviting both foreign and domestic manufacturers to invest in the country, while promising to make it easier to do business in India.
The launch at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi was attended by the who’s-who of Indian industry. The Prime Minister told the audience: “In the last two-three years, companies were looking to move out of the country due to lack of clarity on policy issues… This hurt me, no Indian business should feel compelled to leave the country under any circumstances… On the basis of the experience of the last few months, I can say that the gloom has lifted."
In his maiden Independence Day speech last month, Modi had made an appeal to global manufacturers to set up facilities in India.
Addressing the packed hall on Thursday, the prime minister said, “(We will) work on bringing India from 134th in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking to 50.”
He said his government aims to make India a global manufacturing hub by taking the necessary steps to provide skilled labour to meet industries’ requirements for development and growth-oriented employment.
His audience comprised leading industrialists and business leaders, including Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry, RIL CMD Mukesh Ambani, Aditya Birla group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, Wipro chairman Azim Premji, Maruti Suzuki India managing director Kenichi Ayukawa, ITC chairman Y C Deveshwar and CEO of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co Phil Shaw.
It was a first-of-its kind assembly of top corporate leaders, who are pinning hopes on Modi and his government to steer the economy out of its worst economic proformance in two decades.
“Let us begin with trust, if there is an issue, government can intervene…Government is committed to development. This is not a political agenda, but an article of faith,” Modi pointed out.
The government has reportedly drawn up a list of experts and nodal officers from different departments to resolve any problems faced by global firms while investing in India. It is also looking at delicensing and deregulating sectors, with a “quick response mechanism” to address concerns of investors.
The government has liberalised FDI limits in the defence, railways and construction sectors to give a push to the manufacturing sector.
It wants to boost the share of manufacturing in the country’s gross domestic product to 25% from about 15% now. But in a large vibrant democracy of 1.2 billion people, that is easier said than done.
Several hurdles have kept large-scale private investments away from India, such as energy shortages, land problems and ambiguous tax laws. Lack of cooperation between the federal and state governments also turns off potential investors.
In his election campaign earlier this year, Modi made a key promise to create jobs for about 100 million young Indians who will enter the workforce over the next decade.
During 2005-12, under the previous Congress administration, the country had added only 15 million jobs, a quarter of the figure added in the previous six years.
According to Hindustan Times, Asian rival China’s manufacturing capabilities have long overshadowed India and the government's push for manufacturing comes at a time when large foreign companies are seeking an alternative to the world’s second largest economy as costs and risks rise there.
"We don't need to invite the world to India, they are ready to come,” Modi said.