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Making India A Great Industrial Nation


A new week has dawned, and the Indian rupee has continued its precipitous decline:

The rupee was down another 0.5 percent against the dollar on Monday and a further 0.6 percent in early trading on Tuesday, to 66.43 rupees to the dollar, bringing its decline since early May to a little more than 20 percent.[…]

Exporters would be expected to benefit from a cheaper rupee. But poor roads, restrictive labor laws and heavy regulation have left India with a manufacturing sector that, although stronger than a decade ago, still struggles to compete with China and other East Asian economies. Indian companies rely heavily on imports for materials and equipment that they cannot buy within India, and the costs of those imports are surging as the rupee falls, limiting gains in Indian competitiveness.

Here’s some unsolicited advice to Indian politicians running in the upcoming elections: Run on a platform of making India a great industrial nation. Vow to create millions of jobs for ordinary people with a combination of a massive program bringing public and private sector investors together to create a world class infrastructure and by attracting hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment.

Win votes in West Bengal by promising to make Kolkata a trading and manufacturing hub for Burma, Bangladesh and northeast India. Win votes in Tamil Nadu by promising to push measures through to increase foreign investment there. Win votes across North India among the masses by attacking past politicians for failing to create jobs that ordinary people can get. Fancy high tech and call center jobs are all very well, but mean nothing to poorly educated, non-English speaking people in poor rural areas.
Win votes and financial support from techies by pointing out how the rise of a manufacturing economy in India will provide huge new business opportunities for domestic tech firms. Win votes everywhere by promising to use the tax revenues from manufacturing to continue building infrastructure, improving basic education, and providing sustainable food security.

Build a consensus around the idea that India must be a manufacturing giant to provide economic security for its citizens and enhance India’s power in the world. Show how manufacturing has helped China lift people out of poverty faster than India has—and promise that in India, learning from China’s experience, this can be done at less cost to the environment.

It’s a way to build a powerful political movement while serving the highest interests of the Indian people and their state.

Good luck!

[Photo of Mumbai courtesy Shutterstock.]

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  • lukelea

    Here’s some unsolicited advice to Indian politicians running in the upcoming elections: Run on a platform of making India a great industrial nation

    You mean they didn’t already make that decision two decades ago?

  • Pete

    Sure, that’s the ticket, Mr. Mead. Promise this, promise that with little to no thought as to the feasibility of implementation.

    Such wishful thinking. But as the saying goes, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.”

    India’s fundamental problem — overpopulation.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “combination of a massive program bringing public and private sector investors together to create a world class infrastructure and by attracting hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign investment.”

    Why? Show me one example of government success in building a world renowned business. All of the name brand industrial companies (Microsoft, Intel, Apple, etc…) were built without government involvement. Massive government boondoggles and white elephants, don’t attract foreign investment, outrageous profits do. The best thing for the Indian government to do, is to get out of the way. Cut the red tape, taxes, and bribe seeking bureaucrats, out of the way, so business can flourish.

    • Tom

      Infrastructure is different than businesses. Roads, airports, water supplies, etc.

    • Loader2000

      Well, Intel, Microsoft and Apple would have had a hard time existing at all without the Microprocessor which was developed on government dime for use in the Apollo (and other) missions. Government investment into basic research is still a good idea. Businesses usually will only invest in something if they can start making their money back in 10 years. However, the article is talking about infrastructure, not business.

      • f1b0nacc1

        Interesting how you attempt to make an argument by undercutting your original point.
        First, the microprocessor was invented for use in ICBM development, its value to the various space extravaganzas was a happy side effect, little more. But even if it had been something custom-built for NASA, that still doesn’t qualify as ‘basic research’, but rather government spending on an area (defense, or in the case of space strongly defense-related) that is typically recognized as well within the proper role of government in the first place.
        By the by, most of the early work in solid-state physics that led to things such as transistors was done by private entities (does the name “Bell Labs” ring a bell?), not by the federal government, and almost all of the federal spending that did contribute to these amazing discoveries was on … wait for it… defense.

  • Atanu Maulik

    Here’s some unsolicited advice to Indian politicians running in the upcoming elections_____Wait, does WRM seriously think that India remains a shithole 67 yrs after independence due to lack of good advice ?? Seriously ??

  • f1b0nacc1

    Government spending in a government (nay, a society) as mind-numbingly corrupt as India simply means transferring wealth from taxpayers to well-connected government cronies with very, very little benefit to anyone else. Infrastructure in India is frighteningly deficient, but it isn’t going to help if resources to fix it end up in the pocket of crooked contractors and corrupt politicians.
    Want to make a big step forward in dealing with India’s problems? Attack the corruption, the caste society, the sectarian backwardness, and above all the huge bloated government that enables it all. A society built upon the failed putrefaction of Fabian Socialism intermixed with the rot of third-world chauvanism isn’t going anywhere but down the drain no matter how creative its people might be under better circumstances.

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