Atmanirbharata is a word that came into circulation, recently. The term means Self-reliance! When our PM talked about Atmanirbharata, all the “experts” and the political opponents decided that India was being taken back to the stone age. They declared that India is going back to the permit Raj. On the other side, China baiters started screaming “Ban the Chinese products” and some such slogans. Self-reliance means the reliance on one’s own powers and resources instead of those of others.
How can a society, state or a nation become Atmanirbhar? For any change to happen in humanity, it is the smallest part of the vast populace must become Atmanirbhar first.
“Self-Reliance” is an 1841 essay written by American philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. It contains the most thorough statement of one of Emerson’s recurrent themes: the need for each individual to avoid conformity and false consistency and follow his own instincts and ideas. Emerson emphasises the importance of individualism and its effect on an individual’s satisfaction in life. He stresses that anyone can achieve happiness and become Atmanirbhar, simply if they change their mindset.
The philosophical thinking about Atmanirbharata has been prevalent in the world for a long time. Since most have not analysed the term, the usual expert comments are thrown using strong expressions against the thought process. Atmanirbharata has to start from childhood. We teach our kids to crawl, walk, run and ride a cycle. How do we do it? We do it by encouraging them. We explain to them that we can fall, and get hurt, but unless these things happen, children do not become independent. These actions are the fundamental actions that we need to know about life’s journey. We all know that kids love them, they want to be Atmanirbhar in their life. I am talking about physical acts. So, what should we do about our mental facilities? Should we not become Atmanirbhar in our thinking too? Do we like to be pushed by someone- do it this way, do it that way! Do not use your brain, do as I tell you!
The physical part is eating, drinking, toilet training and so on! As children grow, formal education begins. All these are things designed by and for life’s university. If done well, the child grows up into a self-reliant human. The family, school, the society, the town, and the nation become self-reliant if everyone becomes self-sufficient.
When our PM talked about Atmanirbharata, what did he mean? He did not say bring draconian rules of license raj. Do not stop imports of things that make the nation dependent on the other countries even for basic things. No nation in the world can become 100% self-reliant because of various reasons. There are hundreds of reasons for this, but that is not what we are discussing.
Assuming that we are a nation of self-reliant people. They take up jobs, they become businesspeople. They become officers and pilots. Within their sphere, they have to act to get the things to the best of their ability. I will share an example of an individual who is a buyer for an organisation. The management decides to cut expenses to improve profitability. The buyer’s job is to find the correct supplier of quality goods at the right price. The buyer looks around, locates the supplier in China, and starts buying from him everything. That my friend is not Atmanirbharata. He should have checked why the cost is so low. Is it sustainable over a period? What happens in situations, like COVID? The buyer did not spread his risks- then he failed in making his company self-reliant! Deciding your policy in such a way that in all situation his organisation should remain self-reliant. Atmanirbhar anyone?
I had shared an example of the Indian Motorcycle industry, becoming world-class in a short period. The sector still buys components from China, but the Chinese companies are more dependent on our Motorcycle companies. That is Atmanirbharata.
During the spread of COVID, in India, there was a shortage of everything needed by health professionals like doctors, nurses, ward boys and ambulance drivers. Within three months, we started making a massive number of PPE’s, Masks and what have you. Now we can probably export these items. We ramped up our facilities and capacities to make ventilators in large numbers, so we do not need to depend on other countries. Mind you, not every component required for ventilators may be available in India. But by importing these components, we are well on the way to become in the manufacture of ventilators. We did the same thing in COVID test kits- this was achieved by a small company in Pune.
The first big Atmanirbharata decision taken by the government is opening up the Coal sector to the private sector. In future, India can export a lot of coal!
Let us now consider the year to year problems faced by our farmer brethren. Though we have made significant progress in irrigation, our topography, and financial constraints (and not to forget corruption!) make farmers dependent on rains for water. Regularly, the rainfall is short or too much. Many times, we do not get rains when most needed. So what is the solution? I had written a blog about Jalyayukt Shivar, a drive, by the Maharashtra government to make farmers self-reliant for their water requirement by digging water reservoirs in every village. The rainwater is stored in these reservoirs and could be used when needed. Friends, it is Atmanirbharata at its best. You do not need Chinese or American components for this project; you need the will-power and smart thinking to make such projects a reality. When I wrote this blog, we did not even know the word COVID 19. There was no China hate in the air!
My friend Ram sent me an article about Ulhas Paranjpe, Ram’s batchmate in engineering. Ulhas has developed a technology by which villagers can build water tanks by using Ferrocement in construction; this method more than halves the cost of building the tanks.
I have taken the liberty to share his cell phone number here. He is just one phone call away and gives telephonic advice on how to build such tanks: Ulhas’s Cell plus WhatsApp number +91 98207 88061. The web site: http://www.jalvardhini.org/
Are we taking India back to the dark age? Is this going to be the permit Raj again? Many of these experts have probably never seen a village and give expert advice on the TV channels and spread their (lack of) knowledge. Or maybe they have an agenda against the government!
Atmanirbharata does not mean that you do not use products made in other countries. Any product or services where our nation does not have expertise can be brought in, but the locally available products must be procured locally.
What is the point in getting Ganapati Idols, Decorative items, Manja used in kite flying? These items are IndJalvardhiniian, and the traders started importing them from China because they were getting more margins. End-user did not even know that these items were made in China. This is negative Atmanirbharata.
Very few countries in the world make aeroplanes. India had no choice but to import them. But over a period, we have developed a fighter plane, Tejas, for the Indian Air Force. That my friend is Atmanirbharata. Not all parts made are in India for our fighter plane.
Jaya, in her career, had made great strides in Atmanirbharata. She took training in Canada for some systems, in 1981, which cost eight hundred thousand dollars in those days. One system was imported, and Jaya got fourteen such systems made in Pune, at Rs eight hundred thousand each!
Friends, Atmanirbharata is no China-bashing, it is not going back to license Raj. It is being prudent in what we buy and what we produce in our country. Go ahead and import a few things from China or where ever you want. But do not outsource Chole Bhature from Philippines and Rasgulla from Bangla Desh!