Delighted and enthusiastic to hear and read about the “Make in India” initiative by PM Modi. I came back to India after a short stay in Qualcomm, USA in 1995 to start a software company, to ship software that is made in India to USA. Along with my brothers Sridhar and Sekar, we started our journey with Vembu Systems. The passion and drive then was to create a software product like the Honda brand, from India.
I spent my first month in 1995 trying to get a telephone connection on Tatkal. I succeeded in getting it by paying Rs. 30,000/- and spent about 10 full days in various BSNL offices including Chrompet and Tambaram telephone exchanges. We used dial-up modem to connect Internet few times a day to download mails and upload software.
We could not afford to invest more that time. We were hiring from our friend circle and from those who walked into our office to drop in their resume. Each one of us were working minimum 12 hours a day and almost for first 5 years most of us only knew work. There was no life outside office. I really enjoyed working with almost every single person we hired. Every person had the eagerness and desire to succeed, were totally committed, were willing to put in as much time as it takes to deliver and were all willing to follow me. I remember myself as a cocky and an impatient manager.
We succeeded in figuring our way out, finding our feet to establish a business and grow it.
Looking back at India then and now, a lot has changed.
Today, most of the things any entrepreneur wants or needs are available. There are lots of money, best infrastructure, lots of guidance by people who have been there and have already done that. The world’s best practices are also available at finger tips/search.
I honestly feel we have all the resources to deliver on ”Make in India“ dream and convert it into a reality. But, do we have the resourcefulness?
We have the demographic dividend. Everyone from farms to factories and from campuses to companies are struggling to recruit even semi-skilled people who are capable enough to be trained on the job. PM Modi’s 3S mantra of Skill, Speed, and Scale is very apt for making things in India but the fundamental need is the professional ethics and hard work. Do we have the ethics, passion, apptite, aspiration, commitment and the willingness to work hard work to make things in India or are we just consumers?
#MakeInIndiaI feel “Make in India” must start in every home and in every primary school. Only if parents instill values, ethics, responsibility, respect for efforts, invest in developing comprehensive skills, environment awareness, and problem solving at a young age – the “Make in India” dream can become a reality. Parents and grandparents should go back to tell the stories that teach ethics and values in addition to kids growing up only watching Barbie’s, Ninja Hattori, and Harry Potter.
The post-liberalization growth had a negative impact on Indian middle class and it is showing up in the youth joining the workforce now. The middle class then had American ethics and values and the middle class now wants to live a western life, as they see it on TV.
We have started believing that success is all about contacts, recommendations, pulling strings, money, and merit does not matter. Only when we believe ethics, talent, skill, merit, and hard work matters, we can make things in India that we will be all proud of.
Till then, succeeding in “Make in India” is an accident against all odds. To make things in India that are relevant to the world, we must first make things that we are proud of consuming. Only if we build products and offer services in India that can compete against the best products in the world, we can take them to the world. Without a vibrant local market, any success will be short-lived.
Let each one of us be a good parent, develop good primary school teachers, and create a vibrant, healthy, competitive local market, so that we can deliver world class products and services, locally from India. Only then, we can have a sustained and repeatable success globally.