Modi's 'self-reliance' and 'local thrust' looks like a jab at China, sounds like RSS' 'swadeshi' ⁠— and it will be music to Baba Ramdev's ears

Modi's 'self-reliance' and 'local thrust' looks like a jab at China, sounds like RSS' 'swadeshi' ⁠— and it will be music to Baba Ramdev's ears
A Narendra Modi supporter watches an RSS 'Sakha' (unit) in progress at Barasat in West BengalBCCL
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi listed out five pillars that can drive India into era of self-reliance.
  • Modi pushed for self-reliance bringing the 'swadeshi' agenda to the forefront — and taking out China in the same blow.
  • The thrust on ‘locally made’ products will also help the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme.

“Every Indian should become ‘vocal’ for ‘local’ products. We should use local products and promote them as well. Local manufacturing is what has saved us. Today, the global brands that you see, were local at one time. These brands went from ‘local’ to ‘global’ when people used their products,” Indian Prime Minister Modi in his fourth address to the people of India after the COVID-19 crisis.

In one stroke, he brought the ‘swadeshi’ (locally made) agenda, touted by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) since its inception in 1925, as well as hinted at reduced imports, presumably, from China.

RSS Joint General Secretary Dattatreya Hosable recently addressed foreign media saying that self-reliance and Swadeshi would be the new reality not just for India but for all countries in the post-pandemic world, according to IANS.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch’s (SJM) Ashwani Mahajan opines that India is now wooing investors to shift their base from China to India. “Increasingly FDIs are coming that are not brownfield investments, but greenfield investments, which will eventually create jobs,” he said.


For the uninitiated, ‘swadeshi’ is the same plank used by Baba Ramdev in his attack on multinational consumer goods companies like Colgate and Nestle, which compete with the home-grown brand Patanjali, a ₹3,000 crore FMCG brand owned by the Yoga guru.

The jibe at China
The thrust on ‘locally made’ products will also help the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme, which has seen, at best, a lukewarm response so far. India is still a net importer in many products except for the likes of IT services and pharmaceuticals.

Particularly, in the case of China, India imports goods and services worth $50 billion more from the world’s second-largest economy than it exports, as of March 2019.

Experts have sought India to undertake policy reforms to capitalise on the rising trade war between the US and China to invite outgoing American firms to set up shop, or expand operations, in India. In a conversation with Business Insider, Samir Saran of Observer Research Foundation and Parag Khanna of Future Maps highlighted there is scope for India to attract huge investments as global firms get increasingly wary of China and its policies.

Modi’s announcement of ₹20 lakh crore stimulus package, and the push for local manufacturing, seems to have taken these possibilities into account.


The five pillars
PM Modi listed out five pillars that will be central in making India ‘self reliant’⁠— economy, infrastructure, a tech-driven system that looks towards the future, a vibrant demography, and demand.

“Before the coronavirus pandemic, India didn’t manufacture person protective equipment (PPE) and a negligible number of N95 masks. Now, India manufactures 200,000 units of both PPE and N95 masks each. This is how we converted a crisis into an opportunity,” Modi said.

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