Intro: The China-style techno-nationalism coupled with our strengths in frugal engineering can help India to occupy a front rank among the developed nations.
The economy has ultimately begun to regain its luster after experiencing the worst ever paralytic decline under the UPA regime by posting a nine quarter high growth rate of 5.7 percent in April-June 2014, compared with a 4.6 percent in the previous quarter. It is all the more encouraging that the industrial output, which had slipped into a negative growth-regime of (-) 0.4 percent in the April-June 2013, has recorded a robust recovery with a 4.2 percent affirmative growth in April-June quarter of 2014. Investments too have begun to revive, with the Gross Fixed Capital Formation buoyed at a growth rate of 7.02 percent against a fall of 2.8 percent in this period a year ago (Q1 2013-14).
The manufacturing sector, which had charted an average growth rate of more than five percent per annum, throughout the post-independence period, had plunged into a negative growth regime in 2013-14, characterising the most shameful phase of UPA’s economic performance. Indeed the decade long mis-rule of the UPA in the post-reforms legacy of 23 years, ever since the launch of the neo-liberal economic policies thrown upon the then Narsimha Rao regime in 1991 under the Washington consensus (comprising the consensus of the Washington trio-the IMF, World Bank and US administration) has converted the country into a market for imported goods, with the growing hold of the foreign MNC’s over almost 2/3rd of the manufacturing sector of the country in the organised sector. Now to bail out the economy from this growing dependence over imports and foreign direct investment (FDI), and to save the manufacturing sector from being largely foreign owned India has to chart the course of techno-nationalism and economic patriotism.
The Chinese initiated techno-nationalist course of ‘active standards-based technology policy’ to safeguard the indigenous industry, coupled with a relentless pursuit to promote home-grown technologies can help us not only revive our manufacturing sector, but, can also help India to become a technology leader in the world.
The Chinese, techno-nationalistic course comprises development of alternative technologies to replace the Euro-American products and advancing its own standards to prohibit access of western products into China. For instance to scuttle the access of DVDs and DVD players into the Chinese markets, the China has developed Enhanced Versatile Discs (EVDs) and EVD players to ban the American DVDs and DVD players. This ‘active standards-based technology policy’ was solely aimed at protecting its markets from western DVD players and to stop royalty transfer on these technologies. Embarking on this new, techno-nationalistic course in a big way, the Chinese have promoted own wireless communications standard the WAPI (Wireless Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure), in place of Intel’s ‘Centrino’ scripture. Beijing had even attempted in 2003 to make it compulsory for the wireless equipment makers to use this Chinese encryption technique WAPI only. It was only after the intervention of the US administration that China refrained from this encryption mandate and that too, because WAPI is not yet WIFI friendly. The day it would become WIFI friendly, China would completely ban Centrino encrypted products.
The quest for a sustained techno-nationalistic course needs to be sustained by swadeshi styled economic patriotism, which is also being termed as economic-nationalism, after the erstwhile French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin begun to pursue economic nationalism in a bigway, even defying the neoliberal economic regime (of FDI based takeovers), when he averted the takeover of the French dairy major Danone, attempted by the American Pepsi Co. in 2005, insisting to keep Danone as a French company.
India has been facing foreign take-over in all sectors from soft drinks to cement via brown field FDI (FDI that involves the purchase of an existing plant or firm, rather than construction of a new plant) ever since the on-set of reforms in 1991.
In view of the said, there is a need for India to develop its own products and brands to evolve made by India goods in place of merely, the made in India ones, supported by economic patriotism in the purchase decisions as well as decisions of allowing take -over through brown-field investments from out-side.
-Dr Bhagwati Prakash Sharma (The writer is a Vice-chancellor of the Pacific Academy Higher Education and Research, Udaipur , Rajasthan)