Re-energising the manufacturing sector

3 Years agoMake in India Conference, Bengaluru

The Government of Karnataka in collaboration with the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organised the Make in India Conference – ‘Karnataka Calling’ in Bengaluru on 13th and 14th February 2017. The two-day Conference featured 10 sectoral sessions that were attended by prominent dignitaries, industry leaders and investors. More than 2,500 delegates from India and abroad were a part of the Conference, with around 600 B2B meetings scheduled across different focus sectors. The Conference, a part of the “Make in India” initiative, was held to seek investments in key sectors such as electronics, aerospace and defence among others, as well as to showcase Karnataka’s potential as an investment hub. The Make in India initiative has been making consistent strides to create a vibrant atmosphere for investors, entrepreneurs and startups.

The positive climate for investments in the country today can be greatly attributed to the government’s efforts to streamline processes such as single-window clearances for project approvals, building plan approvals and getting electricity, among others. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime has also been liberalised by the government, making India one of the most open economies in the world. Recognizing this, Arun Jaitley, Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, during his inaugural address at the Conference, reiterated that the future of India lies in manufacturing. Despite the global slowdown, India’s economic situation has improved over the years and there are no ‘whispers of protectionism’ as seen in developed countries, he added.1

One of the major focus areas for the government, which is poised to play a big role in the “Make in India” initiative, is the Aerospace and Defence sector. India’s aviation market is growing at a rapid pace and is anticipated to become the third-largest globally by 2020. With regard to the defence sector, the government’s thrust towards indigenisation and relaxation of FDI norms in the sector has led to a significant increase in participation from both domestic and foreign industry. Additionally, the country’s technological capabilities and robust infrastructure have driven many foreign OEMs to establish their Research and Development (R & D) centres in India.2 Manohar Parrikar, Union Minister for Defence, highlighted the country’s potential to become a defence manufacturing hub. He added that the next few years would be critical for the growth of the sector and also drew attention to the government’s efforts in changing mindsets and increasing receptivity towards private players in the sector.

Another sector that is crucial for the growth of the economy is the Heavy Equipment and Machine Tools sector. Regarded as the ‘backbone’ of the manufacturing sector, this industry is touted to reach USD 2 trillion by 2018.3 The session on ‘Reinventing the new growth paradigm – Machine Tools and Heavy Engineering’ discussed India’s potential to become a major hub for the heavy engineering industry. One of the highlights of the Conference was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Government of Karnataka and Government of India to set up India’s first integrated machine tools park in Tumkur.4

The Conference also featured a session ‘Moving Towards Global Competitiveness: Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals’. India is already ranked among the top 12 biotechnology destinations in the world and second in Asia. With its potential to stimulate growth in the manufacturing sector, the industry is set to reach USD 100 billion by 2025. The pharmaceutical industry too, with its enormous variety of medicines and unmatched quality, has been a key contributor to the growth of the country’s economy.5 Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, one of the biggest pioneers of biotechnology in India, who delivered the keynote address at this Session, echoed the significance of manufacturing to propel the future of the country. She welcomed the emergence of startups in the sector, but emphasised the need for innovation.

The startup movement is inextricably linked to the “Make in India” initiative. With the technology landscape undergoing an evolution in India, there is a rising breed of manufacturing startups that are driving innovation and opening wider avenues for growth in the country. Most of these startups are working towards the application of modern technologies in domains such as automobiles, logistics and food processing, among others. The session on ‘Manufacturing Startups’ featured discussions among startup founders and industry leaders on how to best leverage the startup ecosystem to encourage manufacturing. Several startup CEOs also shared their success stories, highlighting the support they received along the way.

During the valedictory session, Parrikar assured the industry of greater support from the government to spur growth in the manufacturing sector. Ramesh Abhishek IAS, Secretary, DIPP, Government of India, said that the government is considering investor-friendly policies to incentivize the manufacturing sector. He added that both the central and state governments would work towards addressing the issues faced by the industry.

On the sidelines of the Conference, Bengaluru also hosted the ‘CNN Asia Business Forum’, where top business leaders and influencers engaged in discussions about India’s position in a turbulent global economy. The forum also featured sessions on India’s growing prospects in the aviation sector as well as the dominant role of digital technology in the transformation of India’s economy.