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India’s growth cannot be built on Chinese efficiency, says Jaishankar

Indian economic growth cannot be built on Chinese efficiency and there is a need for businesses to stop looking for a “China fix”, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday while strongly calling for boosting the domestic manufacturing sector.

In an address at a book release event, Jaishankar said no major country in the world has sustained or enhanced its global position without building up on manufacturing and India too needs to focus on this.

The external affairs minister also said that India should not allow a level-playing field for others who subsidise their production and that it must not let “other businesses” enjoy advantages in the country at the expense of “our own”.

Jaishankar was speaking at the launch of ‘Made In India: 75 Years Of Business and Enterprise’ authored by G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant.

The minister said the government gives priority to building deep manufacturing supply chains and noted that he sees ‘Make in India’ not just as an economic or manufacturing programme but as a strategic statement.

“I think this country will never be a great country if it is not a great manufacturer. I think that is something we need to understand,” the external affairs minister said.

“I think we need to stop looking for a China fix. That Indian growth cannot be built on Chinese efficiency.

“If you are really to sustain and take the economy to a different level, we have to create a kind of domestic vendor chains that a serious manufacturing economy will do,” he said.

“I know that it is not something which will happen overnight but I can tell you as someone in the government, someone in the economic affairs cabinet committee, we take as a priority that how do you build deep manufacturing supply chains which will be needed to do that,” Jaishankar said.

He said the rolling out of the Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) was part of the government’s efforts to energise the economy and motivate businesses to believe that it is possible to manufacture in this country.

“There is no major country in the world which has sustained or enhanced its global position without some commensurate build-up on manufacturing.

“I always believed that this focus on services was actually an elegant excuse for being incompetent in manufacturing,” he said.

The external affairs minister also spoke on the need to support the domestic manufacturing sector.

“In the name of opening the economy and globalisation, we should not end up de-industrialising this country. We should not allow level-playing fields in this country for others who subsidised their production. That is not a level playing field. That is economic suicide,” he said.

“We need to be clear. Every country must support its manufacturers, must support its businesses. We must not let other businesses enjoy advantages in our country at the expense of our own,” he added.

Jaishankar said strong business is not only about economics, but also a critical segment of national security.

“I fully accept there are experiences and analogies that we can take, best practices we can take from the rest of the world. But at the end of the day we will have to think through our growth strategy for ourselves,” he said.

“We will have to think through solutions to difficulties for ourselves. If you look at the last decade, every time we have actually confronted a major challenge,” he said.

Referring to challenges faced by India during the Covid-19 pandemic, Jaishankar said the government received advice from abroad on how to economically handle the pandemic.

“Honestly I would say I am glad we did not listen to much of it. I think how you come up with your own solutions, that is something which is important,” he said.

The external affairs minister said it is important for India to move to a “strategic economy; have a clear sense who are our partners, where are our opportunities, where should we focus on our technology tie-ups.”

He also mentioned the phrase that “war is too serious to be left to the generals” to emphasise that “sometimes actually business or economics is also too serious to be left to the businessmen and economists.”

“It is important to have a larger strategic direction. To my mind, I see ‘Make in India’ not as an economic programme, not as a manufacturing programme, I actually see it as a strategic statement,” he said.

In his remarks, Kant spoke about various aspects of the India growth story and the way ahead. PTI

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