India Inc committed itself to investing in India and realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of making India a manufacturing hub, at the ‘Make In India’ launch here on Thursday. Captains of industry such as Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, Tata Sons Chairman Cyrus Mistry, Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, ICICI Managing Director and chief executive officer (CEO) Chanda Kochhar, Maruti Suzuki Managing Director and CEO Kenichi Ayukawa and Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, among others, came out in support of the PM’s ambitious plan to grow the manufacturing sector’s share in the GDP from the current 15 to 25 per cent. They pointed at the challenges on the way such as labour issues, skilling, infrastructure gaps, deficient tax structure and slow decision making, but expressed their confidence in Modi’s leadership.
While stating that India’s long-term GDP growth potential is 8-10 per cent, Mukesh Ambani underscored India was set to be the fastest-growing economy in the world. ‘Make in India’ coinage is typical of “Narendra Bhai Modiji” as it is about present and future, as against “Made in India”, which is steeped in the past. “You have inspired the whole India to dream and do,” Ambani said, noting that Modi works 14 hours a day. The PM’s interactions with Japan and China and now anticipation of the US visit has created a positive environment, according to the richest man in the country. “RIL’s Rs 1.8-lakh crore investment will come to fruition in the next 12 to 15 months.”
In this period, the group plans to create an additional 125,000 jobs. Referring to the Mars orbiter mission, he said there can be no better example of a success. The cost of the project comes to an amazing Rs 7 per km, which is even less than travelling in an autorickshaw, he pointed out.
The first speaker among the industrialists, Cyrus Mistry, while welcoming the make in India initiative, said generating 12 million jobs from manufacturing was a challenge and that employability has to be improved through skilling. Along with labour reforms, Mistry highlighted the need for sound infrastructure, balanced tax and duty structure and efficient logistics. “Our aspirations on the global manufacturing arena will be fulfilled if we address certain challenges on priority.”
Many other Asian economies have got their manufacturing sector to contribute much higher to GDP because of a vibrant industry, according to Mistry. Once manufacturing capability improves, it will have a multiplier effect on services, too, he said. Tatas have 95 manufacturing facilities in the country, ranging from steel to aerospace.
Like Mistry and Ambani, Ayukawa, too, backed the Make In India initiative. But he told a packed room at Vigyan Bhawan that doing business India is not very easy. “Costs of production in India increase because of various government policies, procedures, regulations and the way some of the laws are implemented.” The Modi government, meanwhile, has started rolling out steps on ease of doing business. Ayukawa said his company was hopeful that under Modi’s leadership, India could become one of the most competitive manufacturing hubs.
It was no different in the case of Birla, whose business has been hurt by the latest Supreme Court verdict on coal block allocation. None of the industrialists, including Birla, mentioned anything about the coal order or whether it might hurt business sentiment. Instead, Birla congratulated Modi on the spectacular success of the Mars orbiter mission. According to Birla, with the Make In India initiative, the country should emerge as a preferred centre of choice for manufacturing. “We must create one million jobs a month from manufacturing; otherwise, our demographic advantage will fall flat.” ‘Make In India’ is a clarion call that will galvanise India’s economy, he said. Kochhar broke into Hindi in between her English speech to express her support for Make In India. According to her, four areas are important to realise the project - ease of doing business, access to infrastructure, balanced policies and the right training to young people.