Can India Replace China as “The Factory for  World”?

In the wake of COVID driven knee jerk backlash, when the whole world viewed China with suspicion and with some degree of vengeance; many optimists hurriedly did a “2+2=22”  and started seeing a grand opportunity for India to suddenly replace China as “The Factory for World”:

  • Obviously, this projection is based upon premise that “China has suddenly become Bad” and not on a solid footing that Indian Industry and Ecosystem has grown some inherent feature of distinct superiority over them to deserve this position.
  • The world sees India more as “ The Market for World” with its large population and cash rich IT and ITES sector, catering largely to overseas market as “The Office for World”
  • While we boast of having a large pool of skilled, techno savvy, educated , intelligent manpower ; but unless they migrate abroad; they give up technology / expertise and gravitate towards mundane Managerial / Marketing / Finance job
  • Historically, we have never valued “dignity of labour” or duly recognizing technology and technocrats. Mostly technical jobs are under-rated while administrative / managerial jobs are over-rated in Industry.
  • We are very good at “System Integration” OR “Building a House” but poor at “Building a Brick”. Even as some Far East Asian countries have mastered manufacturing of Integrated Circuits and Microchips; we could not do the same. We are good at “screw driver technology type assembly shops” but we do not make components which require rigorous process, special material, large size machines or superlative precision.
  • We tend to focus on modest technology / size, highly scalable, off-the shelf products;  which could easily and cheaply produced and sold. For becoming “The Factory for World” all the niche area of self-reliance must be addressed. One example: Having a very large size heat treatment furnace / forge shop.
  • China has over the years taken over Technology Companies from West as a strategy and they have made sure that they have capabilities developed in all esoteric and niche technologies. Government made sure by Policy that all such enterprises survive; it was not left to the mercy of wanton market forces alone.

Finally, Can India Replace China as “The Factory for  World”?

Yes certainly it can if there is a political will, strategy and perseverance to systematically address the above issues at root cause level;  it could even happen in as less as a decade.

However, it is not all bed of roses … “The Factory for World” could also end up having “Pollution of the World”