During his speech at the Madison Square Garden, New York, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in no uncertain words, spelt out his vision of ´Make in India´ once again. He called upon the enterprising Indo-Americans to come back before it was too late, even as he referred to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his penchant for cleanliness. If Gandhi´s penchant for cleanliness led Modi to embark upon the ´Swachh Bharat´ mission, it could well be a mission that will provide the much-needed impetus to Modi´s yet another mission - ´Make in India´. The use of foreign-made cleaning equipment, may it be a Chinese broom on an imported cleaning or sweeping machine that costs a fortune. It is not surprising anymore to hear about imported equipment worth crores lying idle for the want of suitable spares. It is not surprising either to have the presence of global cleaning equipment manufacturers-big and small-to be present it India, either in the form of a local subsidiary or in the form of a local representative.
The point is, Swachh Bharat has the capability to provide the much-needed impetus to Make in India; influence the manufacturing of world-class cleaning equipment locally with high level of local componentry. Companies like Johnston and Elgin already have a presence in India through their distributors. There are home grown brands like Roots, which specialises in cleaning equipment like sweeper systems mounted on the chassis of Indian trucks and the Hako CityMaster 1250 sweeper from the UK. The presence of imported cleaning equipment underlines the need for their local manufacture, which will bring down their cost, make them more affordable for Indian buyers, make them easier to maintain, and turn India into a manufacturing hub for such specialised equipment. This will also reflect on India´s abilities to manufacture world-class products. Like these specialised machines, the manufacturing sector in India, component manufacturers especially, need world class-machine tools at local prices.
The fact that the machine tool industry has not capitalised on the growth of the components industry, which caters to the needs of numerous industries, and not just the auto or equipment industry, is ironic but true. The scope for foreign machine tool players has been high therefore. It will continue to be high until the Indian machine tool industry climbs on to the same page as the components industry. Drive exports like the machine tool manufacturers from countries like Germany, Korea, China, Taiwan, etc, are engaged in. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with countries like South Korea do help when it comes to procuring the right machines and tools at the most competitive costs possible. The need of the hour is however to have a complete machine tool industry of our own - an industry that is best suited to address the needs of the market and beat the competition at their own game.