Dr Kallol Guha
Would you have ever known about those hidden talents of India until ‘India’s Got Talent’ made its way to your TV sets? In fact, so many talented voices could not have reached their desired path till ‘Indian Idol’ made it possible for them. Yet, there are enormous hidden gems in India that are still looking for the Midas touch. Those gems are none other than our own artisans, craftsmen, potters, who are the backbone of India’s small scale industries. In real sense, they are the inventors of India.
The published narratives of European travelers unveil the fact that India, in the 17th and early part of 18th century, was economically more progressive than most of the European nations.
India had a burgeoning industrial sector, which produced world class products that were also low in cost. Merchants from various parts of world came to India and exchanged their gold, silver and precious stones with cotton textiles, rugs, silk, utensils and much more.
Therefore, when Europe was engulfed by the commercial and industrial revolution, India was still looked upon as the prosperous nation in the world.
It was this trade prosperity of India that distressed the Europeans. During this era, mercantilist European statesmen stood together against the export of bullion in exchange with Indian goods.
In a conquest to generate enormous moolah, the East India Company callously oppressed Indian manufacturers. Heavy tariffs were imposed on Indian goods. Moreover, speedy generation of machine-driven goods took a toll on booming Indian industries.
After India’s independence in 1947, India espoused a socialist-inspired economic model with rudiments of capitalism. India adopted USSR-like, centralized and nationalized economic programs called Five-Year Plans. This Nehruvian policy was stretched too far past its use and led to the decline in Indian economy.
Importance of Small Scale Industries in India
Keeping in mind the significance of Small Scale Industries in the Indian economy, all the industrial policies announced since the independence, have showered high priority on the development of the sector. The industrial policy of 1956, which still is the lead standard, says:
“They (Small Scale Industries) provide immediate large scale employment, they offer a method of ensuring a more equitable distribution of national income and facilitate an effective mobilization of resources of capital and skill which might otherwise remain unutilized. Some of the problems that unplanned urbanization tends to create will be avoided by the establishment of small centres of industrial production all over the country.”
No doubt, the sector can encourage economic activity and is delegated with the liability of realizing various objectives – creation of more employment opportunities with less investment, reducing regional imbalances and so on.
However, small scale industries are not in a position to play their part efficiently due to various limitations, such as finance, raw material, technology, marketing, infrastructure and product planning.
Let’s start with AAP
Recently, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) offered a boost to small scale industries. The government announced that there will be no need of securing needed permits for setting up small scale industries in the national capital. Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will not require a consent-to-establish (CTE) certificate from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and a trade license from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), to obtain an acknowledgment letter under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act, 2006.
The Inventors of India
Ever since forming the government, AAP has launched several schemes that are indicative of innovative ideas. They seem to be committed to the welfare of Aam Aadmi (Common Man). Therefore, the party might think of tapping the enormous pent up productive forces in them.
One way of doing this, is to encourage the common man to submit any invention they might have developed into its presentable form, no matter how rudimentary it might seem. Such presentation may be sponsored by the Government in the same fashion as that of ‘India’s Got Talent.’ The best five, commercially viable, inventions may be turned into industrial production and financially supported by the government and/or private entrepreneurs to be run in the form of a cooperative.
India has imitated such competition in areas of musical performance with very good result. Similar initiatives in areas of rural invention (there is a great deal of useful rural technology that is ignored simply because it is not Western) need to be given encouragement and opportunity to appear in the form of public performance. This could not only benefit development of indigenous small industry but could be a significant stride towards positive impression of AAP among the masses all over India.
Success of this initiative can be easily measured- considering its positive effect nationwide and benefit to AAP thereof.