The etymology of ‘Self-Satisfaction’ and ‘Self-Reliance’ can be traced in the epic of ‘Mahabharata’.
A father by deed and ruler by chance, Dhritarashtra declared his son Duryodhan the prince of Hastinapur and Indraprastha (present day Delhi) was allotted to Yudhisthir’s succession.
It was expected that each of the great warriors would develop their republics, expand trade and hoist socio-political stability.
Thus, the circumstances were made conducive for Duryodhan-led Kauravas and Yudhisthir-led Pandavas to be self-reliant, or Atmanirbhar.
Indraprastha flourished in no time, with rains blossoming agriculture, diplomats establishing relationships with neighbouring kingdoms, women being respected and denizens living in remarkable prosperity.
As prince Duryodhan had inherited much of his blind father’s fanaticism, the prosperity of Indraprastha made him envious and his irking misdeeds broke out the horrendous battle at Kurukshetra.
The Kauravas were defeated in the war by the Pandavas. Meanwhile, the kingdom of Hastinapur suffered mammoth loss of life and property. Just because Duryodhan was not ‘Atmasantosh’, both Kauravas and Pandavas, and Hastinapur as whole, bore the brunt of it on their fates.
The story is no different today. India’s largest global brand is PM Modi himself. Recently, he declared an elephantine stimulus of Rupees 20 lakh crore that invited a rush of opinions within seconds of his speech.
More than any directives, his speech attracted a lot of satire on social media.
Particularly, ‘Vocal for Local’ slogan turned out to be a game changing point of the lengthy speech. This aptly proclaimed rhyming idiom created a buzz in the minds of Indians.
Each one of them, particularly those from small towns, tried to form an emotional attachment with the narrative.
For some time, people forgot about what they should be getting from the package; instead, they felt proud about what they had given in the COVID-19 battle so far.
Although the pandemic is pan-Indian, the rural and sub-urban societies have come out as the kingpin, many following serious lockdown norms, villages restricting movement in their areas, maintaining hygiene, women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and Anganwadi workers constituting a majority of health workers, and so on.
Besides, farming activities resumed much early and the peasants risked their lives to harvest ripened crops.
The dramatic connection between the Prime Minister and Indians was quite natural. Thence, the ‘Vocal for Local’ became very appealing.
The journey to becoming an “Atmanirbhar Bharat” might sound exaggerated, but not impossible.
Whilst the global economy is sinking, the vision of ‘Self-reliance’ is laudable albeit a Herculean task to achieve.
It seems more like a challenge, less like an impetus.
From a corporate owner to unskilled labour, everyone was assigned with a bigger quarantine task than just banging utensils and creating echoes.
The initial stats are reasonably cheering to actually believe in the very re-discovery of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
The idea of self-reliance popped in many earlier schemes, but promises and reality remained far distant then.
In contrast, today’s scenario portrays some encouraging figures as well as opening signs that this time the 20-lakh crore economic package might not go in vain.
Amid shutdowns, India ramped up production of various necessary pharmaceutical and allied products, especially protective gear and medical equipment.
In a press meeting, the Centre said that in it’s order for 2.22 crore Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), near about 1.42 crore was to be fetched from domestic manufacturers.
India has also become the second largest producer of PPEs in the world after China.
About sixty thousand ventilators and one crore N-95 masks have been ordered from indigenous manufacturers, each constituting up to 99% of the total production.
The making of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), as a possible cure for Covid-19, has increased threefold and is now being exported to help many nations around the globe.
These are a few numbers to prove India’s hidden potential to develop as strategic Atmanirbhar entity in the upcoming days. Possibly, it has taken the first step of this giant leap.
In early stages, the Indian state might not supply adequate benefits for hard work and the challenges ahead are based on psychological state and personal sacrifices of local professionals.
Firstly, the problem relies with the objectives laid down by governments at the Centre and the states.
The present Research and Development (R&D) wing in our country is perilous. Undoubtedly, India has abundant natural resources.
Mainly the pluralistic regional variation supports different kinds of agrarian doings and India also has rich deposits of ores.
However, these limited resources are either self-consumed or exported to feed industries in nations that are deficit of natural resources.
Alas, those nations pump their finished products into Indian market and we become the purchaser of our own exports and at a higher price too.
India’s spending on R&D has been poor, as low as 0.6-0.7% of the GDP in the past two decades, whereas counterparts like China and Israel spend more. Recently, the union government planned to spend 100 crores in quest for inventing cure for Novel Corona Virus.
The zealous move is commendable and such determination and expenditure ought to apply to all significant wings of the economy.
Added to woes, the research related funding is highly centralized and prone to corruption.
The private companies do invest some capital in research, but it is like pouring a mug of water in limitless stretch of ocean.
The predicaments of professional Indians are endless. Despite growth in Gross National Income (GNP), low pay and wage inequality exists. A major fraction of India’s job arena remains unorganized.
These unorganized sections of workers are mainly semi-skilled or unskilled, with less formal education. Very often, such group of workers are exploited.
Irregular employment, unequal wages, vague pays, dictatorial behavior of employers, are very few problems to mention.
Moreover, the organized sector witnesses no good air. The persistence of gender stereotypes, groupism and nepotism are ubiquitously seen, both in private as well as government organizations.
The muck of politics has always prevented the deserved ones from getting job. Despite various laws being drafted to protect rights, dearth of awareness and fear of unemployment forces job seekers in organized and unorganized sections to embrace all sorts of professional disorders.
Thus, allotting surplus funding, decentralizing research goals, pipelining necessary innovations and subsequently creating a clean working environment would prove instrumental to uplift the downtrodden manufacturing sector in India.
Secondly, the other mountainous challenge resides within the psyche of Indian born professionals.
Immigration to developed nations has been a pondering problem of the Indian state. It is a scar that cannot be seen, nor can it be shown.
Professionals from India immigrate to developing nations, particularly those in Europe and far west.
Corporate in developed nations harp skilled Indians, particularly those who face nepotism in India.
Lured by high pay and promotional benefits, multinationals hire Indians either directly or by picking them from partnered domestic companies.
National Science Foundation in the USA disclosed that nearly a million Indian professionals, especially engineers and scientists, contribute to the States workforce in 2013.
The numbers have exponentially increased since then. These figures might strengthen bilateral ties with different nations but are actually worrisome while chasing the dream of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Rome was not built in a day, or maybe it took years to erect the spectacular marvel. Likewise, to shoo a few hundreds of British, we struggled for nearly two centuries.
Even though we make giant leaps, the Atmanirbhar Bharat would be merely a fantasy without human sacrifice.
The goal of achieving a self-reliant nation is similar to the revolution undertaken during freedom struggle and hardships to build Rome, but the gravity of sacrifice would be very less. Of course, many professionals immigrate to other countries in search of employment.
However, the inflating figures of immigration reflect an obsessive conquest of researchers brought up in India.
‘What the country does for me’ is termed as a personal choice and somewhere the government has to restrict this.
Sometimes, the difference of pay is not satisfactorily high in foreign companies yet Indians, particularly the young pass outs are much tempted to go abroad.
Working as immigrants and consequently settling overseas has become a fashion.
No brute force or constitutional amendment can ever stop this except therapeutic medication like constant motivation, making youths realize their fundamental duties and encouraging them to end their professional extremism to work for the welfare of the nation. Besides, they should be counseled and advised to immigrate abroad if no domestic avenues are left.
Last but not the least, the budding Indian professionals ought to be Atmasantosh, or self-satisfied, for India to march with the epoch-making objective of Atmanirbhar Bharat.