Only if Indigenous Capabilities were Spared of Politics, Red Tape & Self Interest Lobbies

Countries, both developed and developing both have realized that robust indigenization is crucial to making the state independent and financially strong.

Probably till age 12 we had no idea that Lego isn’t British but a Danish company. It really didn’t matter then, but it did arouse a certain curiosity about what’s made where and the origination of a given product. Appreciatively, Jaffa Cakes were made in England and thanks to the local confectionary store for confirming the same. This wasn’t an ordinary quest as when the products and commodities use are purchased from another land it impacts national economies and there’s a market called the ‘Global Market.’  Indigenization is an important aspect of a country’s overall development. The process is trifurcated into three endeavours which are reducing poverty in the surrounding economy, generation of employment & wealth and expansion of the local markets.

The West and its industrial revolutions are often blamed of depriving the developing nations of realizing their indigenous strengths even though England and France spent almost 2000 years before they could boast of achieving modern industrialization. A key strength of an indigenous economy is the fact that instead of unbounded growth, an economy that has self production and distribution capacity works better to equally redistribute wealth rather than amassing it.

Countries, both developed and developing both have realized that robust indigenization is crucial to making the state independent and financially strong. Every developing country must realize what they want to achieve, and what is the best way to achieve these goals with the skills, resources and money available? Development doesn’t happen in a day – it needs economies to persevere to enjoy the long term benefits of advancement. The notion of “The foreigners are way ahead of us” has changed and correct policies ensure that a big chunk of the nations’ resources are reserved for training of manpower, enhancing productivity, encouraging innovation & creativity and educating more people in societies.

An important milestone in the history of industrial self reliance Zimbabwe’s ‘Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill’ which the then President Robert Mugabe brought into law in 2007. The law gave the people of Zimbabwe the authority to take over the reins of numerous foreign-owned companies within the country. It was deliberated that more than half of the country’s businesses will be given to the local Africans. This was done with the intent to eliminate any kind of discrimination on the basis of colour, caste and creed that came in the way of Zimbabweans of being eligible to fully own a company. The bill was opposed and even before it became a law foreign companies and investors out rightly disapproved of such a law.

Coming to the East, after independence in 1965 Singapore, with little land and almost no natural resources, turned into a major manufacturing hub and a heart of financial activity. How did it happen? They launched an industrialization program without political prejudice found a solution to curb unemployment and speed up economic growth. In spite of being alien to large scale industrialization, the island nation invested in manpower development and comprehensively worked with other government agencies to upgrade technologies and develop new skills. Their Economic Development Board introduced an Overseas Training Program which encapsulated training of the country’s workers in industrialized countries; following which new technology and design training institutions were set up.

Election fever has gripped India and it’s believed that the ruling NDA will once more sweep the Lok Sabha (Lower House) elections with a thumping majority. Amongst the opposition, the Aam Aadmi Party seems to emerging as a strong opposition and with its supreme leaders questioned by investigating authorities and subsequently jailed for the so-called liquor scam (excise policy case) in India’s national capital has been troubling the party’s leadership since long now. Dr. Sarika Verma, a Gurugram based senior Ear, Nose & Throat specialist who is also with AAP juxtaposes medicine and politics pretty well. A cordial woman, Verma is visibly upset about the plight of her party’s senior leadership, especially Delhi’s former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia whose wife continues to remain seriously ill. In the electoral bonds vs. excise policy fight Verma is confident that truth will ultimately triumph. The highly qualified doctor’s chagrin is apparent when asked if the claims of Indian made alternative remedies curing retinal detachment, myocardial infarction, macular degeneration, carcinomas or respiratory diseases is for real? “I am living proof that the Indian treatments of spiritual leader & yoga teacher Baba Ramdev et al did no good but gave people severe mucormycosis instead,” says Verma. Also a senior politician she is concerned about EVM tampering practices and the blatant spread of misinformation and disbeliefs in the name of religion, caste and creed. India’s claims of indigenous medicinal miracles seem to be mere placebo as we continue to search for some justifiable proof of them having any potent curing effects.

When Narendra Modi first became India’s Prime Minister he announced aloud from the ramparts of the Red Fort –“Come, Make in India!” Now that a decade has gone by politicians of the opposition call it fanciful thinking insisting that India’s portrayed figures of indigenous developments are a fallacy and it’s high time people know about the differences between ‘Made in India,’ ‘Assembled in India’ and ‘Failed Reverse Engineering Setups.’ Criticism apart there are companies that are making a difference in their respective sectors and one of them is the Greenko Group, a renewable energy company which substitutes toxic fossil fuels with integrated decarbonized energy and their grid assets enable sustainable yet affordable energy, and till date the company has a net installed capacity of more than 7.5 GW across 15 Indian states. Major Vivek Soni, the company’s DGM is optimistic about the success of the innovative breakthroughs on the anvil and it looks the company is poised to make a vital difference in India’s ‘renewable energy’ spectrum.

The country’s space and defense arena has been growing at a steady pace and Government estimates claim that defence exports have touched a whopping US$ 2.63 Billion in the Financial Year of 2023-24, which is a 32.5% growth over the last fiscal. In collaborations and joint ventures with other countries it’s rare to see a complete transfer of technology but India is initiating new ideas like bidding for mines to acquire important raw materials for in-house production of critical components. Army veteran, Engineer and Media Personality Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) Jasinder Singh Sodhi is multifaceted, an avid reader and a dedicated observer of strategic affairs trends across the globe. About India’s defense manufacturing capabilities Mr. Sodhi talks in detail about home grown developments saying that today India now manufactures Warships, Submarines, Light Combat Aircrafts, Utility Helicopters and Field Guns. “The Service Headquarters of all the 3 forces have chipped in this gargantuan effort by constantly encouraging the Indian arms industry by making General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQR) simpler with the intention to enable domestic defence start-ups to also participate in Government tendering processes.” says Sodhi who is also a TEDX speaker with his name featuring in London’s Limca Book of Records for his articles in the print media and news channel appearances.

 Yohimbine is derived from an African bark but planting the seeds in other regions/countries would need favourable soil and climactic conditions to grow the herb correctly. With more than two decades of experience, Krystyna Swiderska who works as team leader for the International Institute for Environment and Development works in the domain of safeguarding interlinked diversity – which is crucial for betterment of indigenous and traditional working systems. Swiderska’s work focuses on ways to empower self-governed cultural territories and bring community voices to the fore for crucial policymaking. Establishing learning networks for exchange of knowledge in food chains, climate and domestic growth are salient features of the work she does and to establish a global network of bio-cultural territories she works closely with Peru based Quechua Potato Park bio-cultural territory and looks forward to implement her models in India, China and Kenya. Such sustained efforts can help realize the potential of home-grown talent but the moot point remains is that will Governments work collaboratively with societies or will the quest for influence, authority and red tape keep them away from constructive solutions!

Shaumik Ghosh
Shaumik Ghosh
Author of “A Reverie in Death”, “Bit More than Enough” and “Those Same Demon Eyes.” Columnist and Journalist currently based in India. Have lived and worked in UK, Scotland and India. Follow me on Twitter: @shaumikghosh