17 - 01 - 2019

The Make in India programme is a bluff

We Indians are intoxicated with the modernity of the West. For us they represent symbol of elite and prosperity while we are drenched in an inferiority complex and complete unawareness of our rich cultural heritage.

As Indians emulate the western thoughts and ways of living, the western people successfully have been able to create cultural hegemony which is evident from the fact that Indian markets are flooded with Chinese lights in Deepawali rather than Indian Diyas made of earthenware, Chinese Chicken Manchurian rather than Indian Curry Chicken, Pizza in Dominos and Pizza Hut rather than Indian cuisine. Today how many people are being seen wearing Khadi clothes, dhotis and kurtas? It’s all about fashionable jeans, tops and shorts with foreign brands. The perception is that if the brand is labelled Made in India, it is below quality and rather cheap while if it is imported from abroad it is of advanced quality. There was a time during the freedom struggle where Swadeshi Movement was an economic strategy to boycott foreign goods and revive the indigenous products and today just after 69 years of independence we are again slaves of our own choice.
There is little Swadeshi in our learning and all the management thoughts reflect western processes and principles. The Ramayana and  Bhagavad-Gita enlightens us on all managerial techniques leading us towards a harmonious and peaceful state of affairs in place of the conflict, tensions, poor productivity, absence of motivation and so on, common in most of Indian ventures nowadays. The modern (Western) management concepts of vision, leadership, motivation, excellence in work, achieving goals, giving work meaning, decision making and planning, are all discussed in the Bhagavad-Gita. The only difference is that while Western management thought deals with problems at material, external and tangential levels, the Bhagavad-Gita tackles the issues from the grass roots level of human thinking. The Western management philosophy is based on the lure of materialism and on a persistent desire for profit, irrespective of the quality of the means taken to accomplish that goal.  But the question remains how many of us have read Indian epics? Or how many schools or educational institutes have really thought of introducing Indian perspective and ethos?
We cannot even think our life without English language. English has spread as a result of exploitation and colonisation. In many ex-colonies of Britain, English is still the language of exclusive social elite. Language can be used in a society as a vehicle of cultural and religious enlightenment to de-culturalize people from their own tradition, to gain economic advantage and to control domains of knowledge and information. It is exactly what has happened with India. English has become a link-language in this land of diverse languages and is a language of the legal system, higher education, administrative work, science and technology, trade and commerce and so on and so forth. English originally a colonizer’s language has now become a language of pride and prestige and has wiped out many indigenous languages. The problem with Indians is that we shun the neighbours more than the outsiders and actually help outsiders to defeat the neighbours and in the end accept the outsiders as masters. We rather would be mastered by them rather by a family inside India. That is what happened before independence and the scenario remains the same.
Not only should the common people be blamed for that. We prefer Nivea facewash to Patanjali or Himalaya even if they are relatively cheaper. This is because of the repeated and creative advertisements. Toothpaste is considered synonymous with Colgate in India while few people know about Vicco toothpaste which has not updated its advertisement. Cadbury beats Amul chocolate purely through its retail channel. Most of us don’t bother to try the home-brand-product. If we are Indians, why can’t we just buy Indian? The Indian luxury goods market has expanded enormously and it is a well known fact that despite superior quality of certain companies, yet their Indian names make them lose out on a lot of prospective customers which is why many companies decide to go with names which sounds French or Spanish. When we say Allen Solly, wow! foreign branded clothes, but it is a subsdiary of Aditya Birla Group and yes all the clothes are made in this soil. Jaguar cars, despite the British aura yet are owned by Indian conglomerate Tata. Chandon wine owned by French specialists Moët Hennessy is actually made of grapes grown barely a copuple of 100 kilometres outside of Mumbai. If others can trust Indian products and modify the same with a western touch and sell the same in India, then why can’t we realise the worth of Indian resources?
We Indians have enormous intellectual and human capital but what we really lack is our cultural insights in our values and tradition. Swadeshi Movement which now is regarded as Make in India is a bluff if we Indians get swept away by the swift winds of the Western ethos. Do we have an Indian vision? If not how can we expect to make in India and sell in India. If we don’t value our products, then who will and if we don’t trust our products, how can we expect others to believe in us. Yes it is time to be modern but modernity should not be at the cost of own culture and modernity doesn’t exclusively means Western life. Let modernity be in our thoughts and endeavours not in the way we live. The present prime minister said “Sab ka sath, sab ka vikas”. That is the need of the hour. If we invite multinational companies to come in India and manufacture goods, then we should be mentally prepared to adopt the indigenous goods of our own soil. It is a clarion call for the people of the nation to stop being imitative and start being innovative.

Sanchita Paul