Interview India: Making Excellence the Only Option

Author / Editor: Nedra Pereira, Deputy Editor MM India / Lisa Saller, Lisa Saller

The ‘Make in India’ initiative is a long term program that encourages and guides the industry to pave the way to success. Dr VK Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog, Government of India speaks about the same.

Dr VK Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog, Government of India.
Dr VK Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog, Government of India.

How is the manufacturing industry contributing to the ‘Make in India’ initiative?

Dr VK Saraswat: The goal of the ‘Make in India’ program in basic terms is to get the sectors from where they are today to a much higher state. The machine tool industry and the capital goods industry cannot stay far behind. If the goals of ‘Make in India’ have to be achieved, the contribution of the manufacturing industry has to reach to 25% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The industry needs to adapt to the concept of sustainable manufacturing, which is the need of the hour today. Besides this, reducing imports is key to the success of this industry.

Are Indian machine tool companies at par globally? How has the scenario changed in India in the last few decades?

When I started my career in 1972, all sophisticated machines had to be imported. The first machine that I used was Gedee Weiler lathe. Gradually, Indian manufacturers such as HMT and Kirloskar came up with the Indian made machines. However, initially, precision was still a problem.

The maintenance of the imported machines had to be brought from outside. From that point of view, if I look at it today, India has done a great job. The capital goods industry today has certainly has come a long way and the country has witnessed innovation.

There is an emphasis on improving the productivity, and on improving the manufacturing segment. Today, the machine tool consumption is fueled by demand from variety of sectors such as auto components, automobiles, capital goods, electronics, consumer durables, etc. This sector is growing well. We still stand 14th in the production of machine tools and consumption-wise we are at number 10. In terms of production, we produce machine tools worth $645 million and our consumption is around $1400 million. The industry is still importing a huge percentage of machines as far as requirement is concerned. This means we still have lot of scope to serve the Indian market.

What initiatives are being taken by the Government to facilitate growth in the sector?

I am very happy to hear from the Joint Secretary, Department of Heavy Industries, Government of India, that the government is coming up with industry-friendly policies. There is a focus on creating better infrastructure. However, there needs to be an emphasis on creating a machine tool manufactures eco-system. This ecosystem will help tackling the problems faced in the sector—right from designing to manufacturing. When this is achieved, the discrepancies in the technology gap will be bridged.

Furthermore, the government has taken initiatives such as the 100% FDI, and reduction in the import duty to allow for progress and growth within the industry. Additionally, a keen interest is being taken in skill development and promotion of clusters across the country.

Another area for focus is R&D. However, R&D should not only reside in the government departments and institutions but also in industries as this will lead to innovation, new technologies, constructive competitiveness and sustainable manufacturing.