Uday Kotak said a few months back, in the course of an interview, that he was amazed that in his new office in Mumbai, not one of the furniture or fixture items were made in India. My friend Rahul Bhasin conducted a similar exercise in his office in Delhi and discovered pretty much the same thing. The carpet is from China, the furniture is from Malaysia, the light fixtures are from China, the glass partition is from all places, Jebel Ali in the Middle East and so on. Kotak went on to add that even Ganesha statues are no longer made in India. They are imported from China.
Our great, glorious, imperial, imperious government in Delhi, I am told, organises what is called a cabinet meeting every week. The first item on the agenda is to take stock of how well the country has progressed in destroying its manufacturing base; the second item is to think up Machiavellian new ways to further emasculate what is left of Indian manufacturing. I am told that it is during one of these sessions that it was decided that the income tax department should mount a strong and no-holds-barred campaign against Nokia, a defenceless Finnish company which had shown the temerity and gumption to not only bring FDI into the country, but to actually be one of the few (only?) investors
to set up a manufacturing facility.
The super-patriotic, super-matriotic cabinet of the super-intelligent republic of India has decided that land must not be made available to factories, electricity should be denied to factories, factory managements should be harassed by various super-inspectorates and flexible labour policies must be denied to factories, thus discouraging the employment of labour in our factories. The reason this is being done is clear. We must be different from China in every single way. In China, land is easily made available to factories; in China, good quality electric power is made available to factories; in China, local government officials do not harass factory managements — au contraire, local officials encourage factory managements; in China, factories are allowed flexibility in labour practices; paradoxically China’s factory managers hire lots of labour. Our hyper-patriotic, hyper-matriotic, hyper-intelligent cabinet has succeeded brilliantly in achieving what it set out to do. We are one hundred per cent different from China, at least as far as manufacturing and factories go.
I teach young engineers at IIT Bombay. These days,