Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
A conversation with a former broiler chicken farmer of our state revealed that he gave up broiler farming after trying for few years. On further enquiry, he revealed that local broiler pricing could not compete with the prices of broilers imported from other states. Amongst the many reasons for the failure was unavailability of cheap skilled labour, expensive broiler feed, cartelization by established big players outside the state, lack of supportive local policies, etc.
In another case, the entrepreneur of a locally set up water bottling plant was called as a resource person by a local college. The irony was that the water bottles served in the function was from Kinley brand of Coca Cola company of USA! Couldn’t the college authorities be sensitive enough to use a local brand of bottled water? As local citizens, shouldn’t we all promote local brands?
Similar stories can be experienced in the industries sector, the textiles and handicrafts sector, the farming sector, the fish farming sector, horticulture, etc. It is extremely difficult for local products to compete with products from outside the state.
The question is, how does the government ensure that local products are supported and promoted? How does the government ensure that a level playing field is provided to local products vís-a-vís products imported from outside the state which are manufactured and aggressively marketed by established big players?
Some solutions may involve some combinations of the following steps. Step 1: Ensure that all government departments compulsorily procure local products if manufactured and available within the state. This policy of preferential buying and preferential pricing already exists in our state; however, many government departments do not follow it. Many government departments are still using middlemen to import products from outside the state.
Step 2: Introduce a price subsidy on locally produced items for the initial four-five years. Step 3: Introduce tax subsidies, transport subsidies, power subsidies to local manufacturers, farmers etc. This would reduce the manufacturing cost of local items to bring them at par with products produced outside the state.
Should mega stores like Vishal Mega Mart, Reliance Trends, etc, be allowed to sell rice from Punjab, dal from UP, garments from Ludhiana, etc, at prices below the prevalent local prices freely? One way maybe is to ensure that these mega stores compulsorily procure 30% of their products from local manufacturers.
Indian freedom struggle started with Swaraj. Slogans like ‘Be Indian, buy Indian’ and ‘Boycott Chinese products’ are propagated. In the same line, lesser developed states must promote and support local manufacturers and farmers by buying and using local products. The ideal support is when the local population, including local officers, local organizations, local NGOs, student groups, etc, instinctively buy and use local products.
If local industries and local farmers, fish farmers, horticulture farmers, etc, blossom, large employment will be generated; the economy will be boosted and dependence on central grants would reduce.
Are Arunachalees ready to promote and support local products? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)