India, a sub-continent of over one billion people, is always making remarkable strides in its drive towards development. It’s on record that India has been crafting policies and building institutions that promote self-reliance since independence in 1947.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Self-reliance as “ the ability to do things and make decisions by yourself, without needing other people to help you.” Self-reliance means counting on your gifts to work as you work them. Simply put, it’s trusting yourself. Trusting the conclusions that you have developed from your study, experiences and philosophies. And learning from the mistakes that you have made in the past. You need to have a mindset that you need to think through your problems for yourselves and you need to find out your own solutions.
Self-reliant India, according to sources, should not be mistaken as “economic protectionism”. India is actively seeking foreign technologies and is interested in inviting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). But India, according to a few experts, is open to collaborations on its own terms and strategic pathways.
Self-reliant India emphasises maximum indigenisation in production with the launching of the “make in India” scheme
Self-reliant India emphasises maximum indigenisation in production with the launching of the “make in India” scheme to promote domestic manufactures through manufacturing units and plants in India, and ultimately decreasing dependency on imports. Essentially, the self-reliant concept promotes domestic production while reducing reliance on foreign suppliers and imported goods.
India by any known measure has a very long industrial history. It has one of the largest pools of educated manpower in the world. Also, the country can boast of a large market size which gives firms the opportunity to operate in a fairly competitive local environment even when goods and services produced are not exported. These factors cannot simply be ignored when assessing India’s technological capability.
A story published in one of India’s newspapers provides the inspiration for this article. It’s simply about the diffusion of technology from the defence industry to the industrial production sector of a nation’s economy. The story is about the newly constructed guided missile destroyer by the Indian Navy.
Designed by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau and constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders, INS Imphal, the third ship of the Visakhapatnam-class stealth-guided missile destroyer, boasts 75% indigenous content. At 163 metres in length and displacing 7,400 tonnes, it stands as a testament to India’s growing shipbuilding prowess, aligning with the national vision of ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat.’ The indigenously-built destroyer with all its sophisticated sensors and weapons took barely 6 years to build. Naval engineering remains the same globally, but the environment matters.
So what does the phrase “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” mean? The phrase according to Wikipedia is the umbrella concept for Prime Minister Modi’s plan for India to play a major role in the world economy, and for it to become more efficient, competitive and resilient. It is a slogan used since 2014 in relation to national security, poverty, and digital India. Ministries such as defence, education, health and food and public distribution among others. Reliable literature suggests that the concept of self-reliance has been used by the country’s former planning commission in multiple 5-year plans between 1947 and 2014.
Policy consistency. Policies of government must be steady over time with some degree of certainty, continuity and predictability. Public intellectuals and commentators have stated that India has been enacting policies and building institutions that promote self-reliance since its independence in 1947.
Production. If India could boast of providing 75% indigenous content in the construction project of a 7,400 tonnes warship, then we may not be wrong to say that it’s a producing nation. In India, industrial production is vibrant with manufacturing regarded as the most important sector which accounts for 78% of the total production. India is an exporter of technology- exporting from low to medium technology for the manufacturing of consumer, intermediate and light capital goods as well as “technology of much greater complexity and skill.” Although it’s debatable, a few research studies suggest that India‘s relative technological superiority to the other newly emerging economies is due to its highly protectionist policies towards the import of machinery, technology and foreign investments in addition to vigorous promotion of scientific and technological development.
Food security. With a self-reliant strategy, India has attained food security despite the fact that there is hunger and poverty among the poor. India produces more food for its citizens with limited “factors of production.” How has India been able to boost agricultural output despite shrinking cultivable land? India has applied technology as a factor of production in areas such as genetics, crop nutrition, crop protection and agronomic interventions. The application of technology in agriculture enables higher yields- more produce from the same acre of land or number of labourers – besides better utilisation of water resources and replacement of animal and human power with mechanical and electrical power.
Infrastructure. Infrastructure in India is not where it’s expected to be because there is still a broad disconnect between the rural and urban sectors. The transportation and logistics infrastructure is inadequate leading to poor connectivity between production centres and the market. India, according to research propositions, excels in power generation and distribution when compared with some newly industrialised countries.
Any lessons for Nigeria? There are lessons for our country. We can be self – reliant but we’ve got to plan for it. We’ve got to be committed to our plans in education, health, transportation, defence, agriculture etc. For instance, what is our food security plan? There must be a food security plan for a nation that wants to feed about 200 million people.
What about our industrial production strategy? If we have one, are we committed to making it work? What can guarantee any nation’s foreign exchange is production. We must join the League of Producing Nations.
Drawing inspiration from Adam Smith, where are the men and women of science or philosophers who are knowledgeable about the mechanisation of machines and could design, build and modify machines to perform specific tasks? Simply put, where are Nigeria’s talents? Are our educational institutions and other specialised institutions providing enough talent to sustain a self-reliant strategy? We need Nigerians who have the competence, capacity and character to implement any strategy.
We must take necessary measures towards improving our power generation and distribution as well as transmission systems. Without improving the efficiency of the power sector amongst many other factors, Nigerian firms cannot compete globally. Thank you.