Picture Credits: SpaceX
Making India a high technology and manufacturing global powerhouse requires a focus on innovation, scale and sustainability. Nurturing an enabling ecosystem along with recent initiatives like Make In India and Aatmanirbhar Bharat can create the required inspiration. It is reminiscent of how the USA set itself for its moonshot moment in 1962 inspiring a nation to rise. Our industries themselves need to bring changes in their organisation structure and thought processes.
A Call to Action
India recently celebrated its 75 years of independence. The progress achieved has been breathtaking. Be it agriculture, healthcare or information technology, we have come a long distance. The pace of economic development has not only reduced poverty but has created a strong and confident citizenry. And yet we have miles to go. India’s agenda for the next 25 years will be defined by self-reliance and sustainable development.
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”.
The above was a clarion call by the then US president JF Kennedy 60 years back to catapult the US space program to reach for the stars and aim for the moon. The Make in India and the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiatives are similar monumental calls by the Indian government and policy makers to inspire a nation and change the narrative in the Indian manufacturing industry.
All stakeholders including policy makers need to be actively involved to bring about a fundamental change for the industry and catapult it to global standards.
Challenges in the Industry
Innovation can be defined as the practical implementation of ideas, which leads to new products and processes. Innovation leads to an industry becoming more competitive. And unfortunately this lack of innovation is most visible and marked in Indian manufacturing.
The industry is dominated by a "short-termism" or the blind pursuit of quick profits (lets call it the traders’ mindset). This could be a reason for the decline of many of the local manufacturing industries, which failed to see the impact of cheaper imports from China and failed to adapt the most recent technologies available and benchmark their products. The Indian toy industry is a glaring example.
There have been certain sectors where the manufacturing activity has sustained. We may even have taken advantage of the onslaught of globalisation due to a labor arbitrage, like in textiles and gems & jewellery while in others like agriculture we have erected barriers to protect the domestic industry.
But the brutal truth is that Indian manufacturing industry faces tough global competition. Not only from low cost manufacturing in China but even in high quality products imported from US and Europe. So what can we do to really make a mark on the global scenario? Can we aspire to be global leaders at what we do?
Defining our Agenda
It can be stated that the Indian manufacturing industry, especially the small and medium scale enterprises have become stale, unresponsive and fails to attract the brightest of minds and an inspired workforce. The challenges are immense, daunting and real. We need to change the status quo, if we want our own moonshot moment. What are needed are a set of policy and cultural shifts at the macro level and organisational changes at the micro level.
At the Macro Level
At a broader societal level a concerted effort is needed to create a supportive environment for manufacturing to thrive.
A conducive and enabling ecosystem – Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a complete ecosystem to start a manufacturing company. Having a reliable supplier base, a supportive financial system, motivated and inspired workforce and academic institutions, which are flexible and adaptable to taking up small challenging projects, will be critical assets for the country. The experience, which small and medium enterprises have in dealing with the different stakeholders, is painful and shocking.
Supportive government policies – There is certainly more reform needed in the labor laws, tax laws for example. Old archaic laws related to pollution, fire or even employee insurance which often views the entrepreneur as a criminal mastermind set on evading taxes and avoiding government revenues needs to be overhauled. The scope for harassment by an embittered bureaucracy is real.
Desi DIY Heroes – We need more relatable heroes and role models in India who can inspire a generation to take on the most challenging problems and come up with innovative solutions. There is certainly a lack of Do It Yourself culture in our country and maybe with more DIY influencers on the social media the next generation of engineers will be inspired on taking up the challenges faced by the manufacturing industry.
At the Micro Level
Significant organisational and leadership initiatives are needed at the industry level to create competitive enterprises, which are equipped to take on the Goliaths of the world. As the economy becomes more formal and globally integrated there are not only domestic headwinds from larger multi national enterprises but also from international markets.
Benchmarking with the Best – Doing a thorough benchmark of products and processes against the leaders of the world would enable smaller organisations to quickly offer a superior product and immediately opens up scope for an obsessive relentless self-improvement allowing to quickly catch up.
Scale, scale and more scale – We understand that’s the name of the game. Small enterprises need to build highly flexible and agile organisations, which can quickly scale up depending upon the demands from the market. The way forward would be to deeply invest in Industry 4.0 and several automation technologies to ensure their productivity is comparable to the best in the world.
Innovation and not Jugaad – The importance of smart capital allocation and how it can really catalyse innovation needs to be recognised and appreciated. Enterprises should look at building up their own Skunk Works or a Moonshot factory, where they will take up the most challenging projects in their sector, offer them to engineering graduates and incentivise them to come up with viable solutions. This will create a sustainable stream of innovative products and technologies for the future.
Focus on Sustainability – It is our core belief that the future of manufacturing will have to adhere to circular economy principles. All organisations need to build supply chains and ensure that they are not only immune to supply and demand volatilities but are also energy and resource efficient and minimise wastage in every process. This would also be beneficial to the overall bottom line of enterprises making them more competitive.
Taking on the Leadership Mantle
It is our sincere hope and belief that this is India’s century and the country’s demographic potential can be unleashed by an innovative manufacturing industry catering not only to the domestic market but also to the global markets. The way forward must be led by startups, small and medium organisations that are most effectively placed to make the largest impact.
At Alphasine Technologies we are developing a culture of innovation, building scale and focusing on sustainability. We are committed to not only building great products and developing the latest technologies but also being globally competitive. Alphasine Technologies is focused on high technology sectors like electric vehicles, aerospace & defence, robotics & industrial automation and industrial applications.
Come join our team if you believe in our mission.