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There is much angst among policy-makers over the failure of India’s manufacturing story. The Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative is indirect admission of this, being recognition that the country is not capable of developing its manufacturing sector without trade protection and tariff walls. Once you head in this direction, business lobbies will influence policy towards ever more protection. This is already happening, with companies under the production-linked incentive programme asking for moving target goalposts, and with more sectors being added to the protection programme. Perhaps the time has come to acknowledge that India is not going to replicate the export orientation of the East Asian manufacturing story, or even that of Bangladesh. If the country does build manufacturing into a bigger component of GDP, which has been the official objective from 2012, it will be oriented towards the domestic market, and probably high-cost. Domestic consumers will bear that cost, while
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