Role of Engineers in making India Self-reliant, Self-sufficient

September 29, 2020

Self Sufficiency and Self Reliance are virtues in isolation. In a nation’s context the apex objective should be a road map for: being a Technology Leader, making all people move up the skill ladder; be competitive so that world is after you to get your goods; create enough job opportunities for all; all people to be much above poverty line (per capita income).The mantra to achieve this is – Skills, Productivity, competitiveness and Technology Leadership.

Self-Reliance or Self Sufficiency is not a new concept as India started this journey during independence era. Post-independence heavy investment was seen in Power Plants, Steel Plants, Fertilizer Plants, and Refineries. While we started making almost everything from needle to aircraft, we were dependent on Foreign Sources to update the technologies, to modernize our Industries, to adopt world-class processes.

We started with Import Substitution; then Phased manufacturing programs were mandated instead of outright import. 1991 Reforms did make India competitive; did bring in foreign investments, foreign technologies, India did become a part of world supply chain. But neither the Public sector nor major Private sector entrepreneurs invested enough in R & D, Tech Development Capability; but easy route was tie up with foreign players. The Private players concentrated on maximizing profits rather than build capabilities for long term.

India is not as competitive as Germany or Korea even with low cost labour; we don’t have US /Germany /Japan type entrepreneurship which develop technology, market; gets manufactured in low cost countries and maximizes profitability. A new slogan on self-reliant India without concrete ideas on how to attract /retain talent, provide low cost capital, provide funds for massive R & D projects, incentivizing world class R&D Institutions will do no good. If we have to perform like Japan or Korea or Taiwan , it cannot be overnight - it requires at least few years; we need a Technocratic Government; we need massive funding from government; we need a proper legal frame work , exit policies , our banking system needs to gear up for low cost financing. This whole thing needs a New Ecosystem designed, implemented, monitored by Technocracy. Lastly, we need Self-sufficiency but more important is Competitiveness; Let all educated people realize; nothing wrong in importing a lot if all our people are engaged in high value added work.

This Self-sufficiency concept should not trap us in a low competitive, low innovation mode. Nothing wrong in importing but Export more - Let consumer get the best Product, value, service; let our Industry / workers be competitive; Let our strengths get us to exploit the best opportunities worldwide at the same time have a win-win Trade balance, Technology Leadership. In this pandemic situation, the whole world has got stranded and fighting against this dreadful disease Covid-19 and trying to overcome this. The countries can’t be kept at the stranded situation for a long time as it will affect the economy of the country so in order to maintain it there should be a balance while opening it by taking all the precautions. Now, coming to the point, the developing countries like India can use this as a wonderful opportunity to strengthen themselves and boost up the economy which is now called “self-reliant India”. The only meaning is to manufacture the maximum products in our country with indigenous resources. There are several ways India can be self-dependent, but several ways should have a systematic approach.

Research and Analysis: Research is most important because we should know where we stand. We directly can’t boycott any product suddenly instead of that there should be a proper research, as to where we stand on selective things such as mobiles, automobiles, etc. We should analyze which are the raw materials that we import and from which countries our international relations are strong.

Promoting Local Products: Now, the 2nd step should be promoting locally available products / raw materials and Indian manufactured products, this is how Chinese or imported product sales can be reduced.

Creating demand and infrastructure: Requirements to manufacture and develop indigenously by an indigenous company, such as Infrastructure, Research and development center, skill development centers should be setup.

The use of technology should be prominently done in India because this is the age, where the world is changing and wholly dependent on technology. As India is an IT hub and Information Technology should be wisely used as it helps each and every sector. Similarly, the defense sector also plays an important role, and this sector is important as the defense equipment which is being used in our country is mostly imported either from the US, Russia, Israel, France etc. Here, the government needs to innovate the existing manufacturing sector and develop some new advanced manufacturing units.

The Indian engineering community subscribes to the philosophy of self-reliance and self-sufficiency and has done itself proud in the recent years. "Leadership" for India would come by only when all those who have authority and money, use them not only for their own gains but also for the benefit of those who lack them. Participative "governance", rather than merely government, can drive the change. Public participation, continuous and tireless hard work, are the instruments that could provide India the leadership baton where the world will watch the country as an embodiment of vibrancy, equity, and intellect in a market- driven economy in an all-inclusive environment. Redistributions from richer and more powerful groups to poorer groups that may face limited opportunities should be pursued. The ultimate goal should be reduction of poverty through equitable pursuit of prosperity and the engineering community will harness and manage the natural resources with equity lens and demand level-playing field.

There is a clear path to lead India to global leadership in engineering and technology and become self-reliant in these spheres. The country has the resources, the institutions and the mindset too. Engineers do need to work towards a fusion of our positive achievements. This is the essential condition for India's path towards self-reliance and emergent role in global engineering and technology. With the seamless engineering and technology capabilities, tempered by the social and political systems, Indian engineers can be the harbinger to the development of economy of the country in the post-pandemic regime.




By R G D’Souza
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Comment on this article

  • kateel pai, vitla

    Wed, Sep 30 2020

    Having a vision is very essential. Now we need to develop Ecosystem for implementation.

    India has lot of entrepreneurial talent which has to be harnessed. Partnership between industry and academic institutions must be encouraged. It should be made part of CSR. Only when our graduates interact with the real world problems will the ecosystem thrive. Need to have accountability on both sides. A journey of 1000 miles starts with single step.

  • Nazeer Ahmed, Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 30 2020

    Well written.. motivating article..

  • Austin, Mangalore/Mumbai

    Wed, Sep 30 2020

    Dear RD sir, the article is very well written. This should motivate young budding engineers to go ahead in this direction to create a new vibrant India.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 30 2020

    Dear Dr. Rajesh,
    Excellent motivating article. Very well written and clearly explained concepts. It gives confidence to any engineer to be looking forward to bright future.

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