Flight of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
Recently, an innovative group called the Arunachal NGO & Entrepreneurship Forum (ANGOEF) organised a two-day exhibition of indigenously made textile and agri-horti-based products at the Dorjee Khandu convention centre in Itanagar. The aim was to promote and showcase locally manufactured products of the state with the theme ‘Be local, buy local’.
There are negligible industries in Arunachal Pradesh and Northeast India. Most products are imported from suppliers outside the state. With no supporting ecosystem, it is difficult for local products to compete with products from other cities of India. Many local industries, cottage industries, farms, horticulture farms, etc, are struggling in the state, and many are closing down, unable to sustain in the competitive market.
It is seen that many government organisations and departments are ordering/sourcing products from outside the state when similar products are being produced in the state. Some departments/organisations are sourcing products from outside due to the legacy of continuing with old agents/suppliers from outside the state. Many products, like uniforms, sportswear, shawls, silk products, curtains, galeys, mineral water, etc, are sourced from suppliers outside the state despite the same products being manufactured in the state.
Recently, a few states, like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, have passed laws or are planning to enact laws for compulsory provision of employment of at least 70 percent local persons to be eligible for state incentives. Though the constitution allows all Indians to work anywhere in the country, many states implement policies to support local products and promote local labourers or employees.
If local departments and people support and buy local products the money circulates inside the state, contributing to the economic growth of the state. However, if local departments and people prefer buying products from outside the state, it leads to an economic drain from the state. This economic drain leads to the development of other states with our money.
India’s freedom struggle started with a concept like 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 local population, including local officers, local organisations, local NGOs and student groups, instinctively buy and use local products.
If local industries, 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.(The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)