oppn parties Will We Remain The Screwdriver Economy Forever?

News Snippets

  • India's sovereign green bonds were oversubscribed four times as the RBI received 266 bids worth Rs 32892cr agaisnt the target of Rs 8000cr
  • Google tweaks its Android and India app store policy to allow manufacturers and users to choose certain things instead of compulsorily using Google apps after the CCI order and fine for unfairly dominating the market
  • Former US secretary of state calls former Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj a "goofback" and a "hinterland political hack". MEA S Jaishankar slams him
  • Jamia screening of BBC documentary on Gujarat riots cancelled after the university was turned into a fortress and later 13 students were detained by the police
  • Supreme Court grants conditional interim bail for eight weeks to Lakhimpur Kheri accused Ashish Mishra. The bail can be further extended based on his conduct. He was asked to stay outside Delhi-NCR and UP and surrender his passport
  • After the JNU administration tried to thwart the students from screening the BBC documentary on the Gujarat riots and PM Modi, now students of Presidency and Jadavpur universities in Kolkata have decided to screen it 5 times next week
  • While a US research frim Hindenburg says its analysis found the Adani group overleveraged and claimed that its bubble will burst very soon and that sent the price of group companies crashing (Adani companies lost a combined Rs 55000cr), Adani group said the report was 'baseless' and 'malicious'
  • This time Enforcement Directorate arrests TMC spokesperson Saket Gokhale under PMLA for money laundering
  • Padma awards announced on Republic Day: Mulayam Singh Yadav, architect Balkrishna Doshi and ORS pioneer Dilip Mahalanobis get Padma Bibhushan posthumously, Padma Bhushan ius awarded to Kumar Mangalam Birla and 8 others and 91 get Padma Shri
  • Stocks fall big time on Wednesday on F&O expiry, finalncial and banks take big hit: Sensex tumbles 773 points to 60205 and Nifty 226 points to 17892 even as the market volatility meter shoots up by 8.51%
  • World Cup hockey: Germany stun England 4-3 to reach semifinals; Netherlands beat Korea 5-1 to enter last four
  • Australian Open: Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna reach the finals
  • Suryakumar Yadav is named ICC Cricketer of the Year 2022 and Renuka Singh gets the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year 2022 award
  • BCCI gets a whopping Rs 4670cr in the auctions for the 5 teams in WIPL or as it will be known now, WPL. Adani Sportline gets Ahmedabad for Rs 1289cr while Mumbai Indians get Mumbai for 913cr
  • Calcutta HC overturns the hookah bar ban in Kolkata by saying that it is not an illegal trade
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Will We Remain The Screwdriver Economy Forever?

By A Special Correspondent
First publised on 2020-08-04 17:01:26

The government has moved the import of fully built television sets to the restricted list. This means that anyone importing the same in India would have to apply for an import license. It is also thinking of putting toys, furniture and sports goods under the restricted list. Ostensibly, it is being done to promote local manufacturing in line with Prime Minister Modi's vision of atma nirbhar Bharat and Make in India. It is, on paper, a very noble initiative as it will promote local brands, bring in investments and create jobs.

But there are several things that need to be considered before any such policy change can be regarded as good. The first and foremost fear is that it will bring back the dreaded, and inhibiting, license-permit raj. Second, in the absence of local manufacturing of components, India will become the assembling destination of the world. Fully built items placed on restricted import lists will now be imported in completely knocked-down (CKD) or semi knocked-down (SKD) kits and will be assembled in workshops (it will be a misnomer to call them factories) here. All that will be needed will be soldiering irons and screwdrivers. Do we really wish to be an economy that survives on such activity? It also results in loss of revenue for the government as imported SKD kits in many sectors attract little or no duty while the import finished product brings huge revenue. Finally, it is against the government's stated objective of aligning the Indian economy with global supply chains.

Local manufacturing will not be encouraged by banning fully built products. Instead, the manufacture of components that go into making these products must be started in India. Tariff and non-tariff barriers are self-defeating, even crushing, in the long term in the absence of local manufacturing from the component level. They either encourage assembling from imported components (thereby increasing the cost of the finished products to the disadvantage of the end-buyer) or the making of shoddy, uncompetitive products that have no export potential.

The government must not ban fully built products until India starts making components and then the final products all on its own. The government's efforts in attracting FDI should be in the area of encouraging component manufacture for such essential and fast-selling items with huge export potential as computer and mobile phone chips, memory cards, hard disks and other components or LCD screens. Once these components are manufactured in India leading to the local sourcing and assembling of the same by brands, only then can we truly say that Make in India is successful. Until then, we will remain a nation of CKD and SKD kits importers and assemblers.