India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru once said, “Crises and Deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage that they force us to think.”

When the RBI Governor termed the Covid19 outbreak as the worst economic and health crisis of the century and India continuously being engaged in a battle with it, our soldiers recently had the worst clash in decades with the Chinese Army on the disputed India-China border.

As pandemic affected the livelihoods of many people across different sectors in India, our Honorable Prime Minister propelled for self-sustenance and gave a clarion call to make India Atmanirbhar. He launched a campaign ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ and announced an economic package totaling Rs. 20 Lakh Crore for supporting various sectors in the Indian economy under the same.

However, this idea and vision of becoming self-reliant has also welcomed some criticism and called as a way of protectionism and isolation of the domestic industry.

Recently, speaking at the virtual launch of made in India social networking app Elyments, the Vice-President of India Venkaiah Naidu cleared the air and said, “India’s call for self- reliant economy is for adopting a pragmatic development strategy that would enable the country to recognize and capitalize on its inherent strengths,”

But the question arises, ‘Is India capable of becoming Atmanirbhar when its Trade Deficit with China is $48.66 in 2019-20?’

While the Dragon was busy supplying faulty essentials to other nations for combatting Covid19, the textile business in India gave birth to a new industry of manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits which is worth Rs 10,000 Crores. Today, India stands as the second-largest manufacturer of the PPE kit in the world and makes around 4.5 lakh units per day. Along with this, other developments include making of low-cost ventilator Prana-Vayu by IIT Roorkee, manufacture of more than 70 products by DRDO, making of hand sanitizer by tribal women in Chhattisgarh, etc. thus giving the true essence of vocal for local.

After banning 59 Chinese apps owing to the national security reasons recently, our Prime Minister also launched Atmanirbhar Bharat Innovation Challenge intending to support the local startup and tech community to create ‘world-class’ apps in India that have the potential to go global and many Indian apps are already ready to benefit from this Atmanirbhar call.

This summer, India attracted investments worth around $20 billion from global giants like Google, Facebook, Hitachi, etc. which can prove to be a cherry on the cake for the vision of making India, not only a self- reliant nation but also an export-driven economy.

After the rise in the FDI limit in the defense sector from 49% to 74%, there is a huge room for India to change its designation from being an importer of arms and ammunitions to becoming an exporter of the same.

India has a strong service sector with low input costs and the potential to match China in terms of the scale of supply-chain, but the major challenge is a rich pool of unskilled labor, lack of infrastructure, and administrative bottlenecks which may hinder India from becoming China’s clone. As China’s manufacturing exodus already started, countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, and South Korea are trying their best to grab this opportunity. India must work on its weakness if they don’t want to miss this prospect. India must aim to gradually reduce the imports and should focus on boosting domestic manufacturing which can make the Indian economy robust in the long run.

The scope of Atmanirbhar Bharat is not limited to self-reliance but to build up a globally competitive manufacturing leader with an export-driven economy.

During these tough times, India is already doing great in the backdrop of Atmanirbhar Bharat. India has the capability to convert the vision of Atmanirbhar into reality and can evolve as the center of excellence in the coming times.  It can prove to the world that the 21st century belongs to India.

“Together we can and together we will.”