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While Modi’s Ambitious ‘Make In India’ Takes Off, 3 Crucial Problems With The Manufacturing Sector

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By Mayank Jain:

“It’s complicated, too many relations, too many people can have a say, too many people can block. Currently, there are lots of complexities or uncertainties. Was I surprised at the international backlash post the retrospective taxation, I was not surprised. Has this really backfired on India, the answer is yes. I wasn’t surprised when India’s public image suffered.” – Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao.

Prime Minister Modi, with his unfazed focus on improving the industry and manufacturing conditions in the country, launched the ‘Make In India’ initiative. He has graciously rolled out the red carpet, inviting MNCs and other industrial corporations to consider India not just as a market but as a manufacturing hub. With demographics on our side and every third person with a graduate degree looking out for a job, manufacturing in India is not a bad idea at all and instead, is the need of the hour.

Make In India couldn’t have come at a better time, but will it be enough?

The differentiator between developed and developing economies is majorly seen to be the contribution of organized manufacturing to the GDP, which is devastatingly low in India as compared to our contemporaries. India’s manufacturing sector accounts for only 16% of GDP, while China is already receiving one third of its GDP from manufacturing. The share of Indian manufacturing in the worldwide markets is also pitiable at 1.4%, while China has already zoomed to 13% plus from a level of 2.9% just 20 years back.

Make In India projects India as a fertile industry base, and competent to handle the business needs of MNC’s due to its linkages with the rest of the world. However, the rosy picture depicted in PowerPoint presentations and press conferences seldom holds true on ground as global businesses seem to back off from setting up bases in India; Vodafone, Walmart, and a whole lot of Japanese companies are glaring examples.

The 3 Problem Children Of Manufacturing

Indian manufacturing revolves around the FDI rhetoric so much that we have most likely forgotten that around 8-9 million people join the workforce every year. Not all of them can be employed in projects that come through the way of FDI since the process is usually long drawn and erratic. The Ease Of Doing Business Index, which tracks the relative easiness of setting up operations in the country, reveals the same fact about rampant red tape and lax governance in the country. We are placed on a measly 134th position with countries like Uganda, Kazakhstan and Cyprus ranking above us.

Infrastructure Deficiency: Projects Worth Rs 7 Lakh Crore Stuck In Red Tape

“We need infrastructure, we need highways, we need cold storage facilities”, we have all heard this enough and now we need a break. It isn’t a bad idea to actually think about delivery before planning new projects. Promising is easy, but fulfilling isn’t. A lot of projects never take off from the paper they are inked on, and remain stale headlines in some forgotten newspapers.

Infrastructural development is not just about making better buildings or faster trains, but at the same time, overhauling the overall processes involved in getting a new entity set up. Intellectual properties, research and development grants, a market friendly atmosphere with transparency and focus on e-delivery of services are all part of infrastructure which we can start to build right away instead of waiting for the disbursement of hundreds of crores from the Union Budget every year.

Job-Skill Mismatch: Only 10-15% of regular graduates are employable

People graduate with flying colors every year from popular courses like Engineering, Medicine and Business Studies, but end up looking for their elusive first job simply because they aren’t equipped enough to work in the industry. While we blame the industry for not giving young graduates a chance to work and point out evils in FDI, the focus never comes back to the quality and characteristics of the kind of training and education people receive.

75% of IT graduates are deemed ‘unemployable’, 55% in manufacturing, 55% in healthcare and 50% in banking and insurance, as pointed out in a report produced by FICCI and Ernst and Young, called Higher Education in India: Vision 2030.

Studying about an industry and working on the shop floor are two completely different things, and a lot of surveys point out the anomaly that has crept in our mode of imparting education. The government should start analysing the quality of education soon and industry interface needs to be built in schools and colleges so that students are apprised about the current trends and requirements in the job they hope to take up right from the beginning of their courses.

Agriculture Myth

India is often termed as an agricultural economy whose mainstay is agriculture. However, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP is fast coming down from its above 50% levels at one point. Industry and services together rose over 11% in their contribution to the GDP, but employment figures rose only by 6%. This implies that we continue to employ more and more people in agriculture while income growth is happening in the industry.

share of sector

The mismatch is due to a lot of factors and the major one is lack of skilled labor in the country, which could be employed gainfully in the factories and shop floors. However, lack of education and hereditary patterns observed in the interiors make youth more drawn towards agriculture. This, however, is no excuse to not internalize the industrial development and make work opportunities reach people rather than waiting for them to migrate.

Despite these three big anomalies and other issues like red tape and corruption, Indian industry continues to grow, which reinstates faith in the resilience of the economy. However, it is the right time to take the debate beyond FDI and fix on ground issues at home before we throw open the doors for visitors and expect them to ‘Make In India’.

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  1. AmitS

    Without the serious reforms that India needs now more than ever, I am not sure, if MAKE IN INDIA would become a real success! Also the recent long -lasting fall of EURO/ PLN against INR would only discourage the foreign investment from EU states?
    Agreed@Mayank, almost 90% of our engineering graduates are not employable. why? Clearly, something is horribly wrong with our technology education system, for instance, outdated learning, theory vs practice, exam culture, lack of exposure and last but not least bad career matching!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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