By Prashant Sood
The launch of “Make in India” campaign here was as much about the new initiative as about the man behind it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the star of the occasion as a galaxy of industry leaders showered praise on him for his vision as Modi connected and bonded with the large gathering in his chatty and conversational style.
Modi gave new meaning to the old acronym “FDI – first develop India (apart from foreign direct investment)” – in his nearly 40-minute speech that was political in parts but largely focused on ways to make India a manufacturing destination.
By the time he ended his speech amidst cheers, Modi got a standing ovation from the gathering that included industry leaders from India and outside, diplomats and senior government officials.
Modi had first articulated “Make in India” initiative during his Independence Day address and the launch of the mission took place after almost a month. He also evoked symbolism in his speech, referring to ISRO’s success in having a successful Mars mission on debut and pitched it as a demonstration of capability of India’s people.
He also said that “Make in India” launch coincided with the start of Navratras (a period considered auspicious by Hindus) and mentioned that the launch was also taking place on the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, an ideologue of his Bharatiya Janata Party.
The main plenary hall, as also the six conference rooms of the Vigyan Bhavan complex was packed with representatives of the corporate world, diplomats and key government functionaries. The prime minister, in fact, began his speech by apologising to the invitees who had to listen to him standing since every seat was taken.
The tone for the event was set by Commerce Minister Nirmala Sithraman, who in her brief but lucid address, pointed to the initiatives of the government to boost growth and manufacturing while admitting that the country in the past had been identified with “red tapism” and “inspector raj.”
“We are fully conscious and want to chart out a new course,” she said. Incidentally, Sithraman was the only minister to speak of the eight ministers present on the dais apart from Modi. She said the government had identified 25 sectors “in which India can become the world leader”.
Modi’s leadership emerged as a common thread in the speeches of industry leaders.
Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani said that a unique leadership quality of prime minister was that he “dreams and does”.
“He also motivates billion Indians to dream and do,” Ambani added.
ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshwar said he was inspired by “boldness” of Modi’s vision as also his “simplicity of communication”.
Wipro chairman Azim Premji and ICICI Bank chief Chanda Kochharwere among those who praised Modi’s vision in launching the “Make in India” initiative.
In his speech, Modi also took a dig at the UPA government, stating that flight of capital had started taking place during its rule. Without naming Congress, he said that party leaders had now stopped taking credit for the financial inclusion scheme as they realise they could not implement it properly.
The sleekly produced audio-visual clips on the mission drew on the country’s past to pave the way in the future. The Askok Chakra (wheel) drawn from the national emblem was the central motif of the event as it metamorphosed into tools in the audio-visual clips and then finally fitting into a lion, the official emblem.