De-Lurking on the Net

October 25, 2015

Make-In-india Initiative, is it viable?

India’s GDP stood at 2.066 trillion dollars in 2014. Amidst the plethora of initiatives, funding and new policy moves in India, there is one news that said India launches one stop Reserach funding for Research. It seems a good initiative on the surface as India was spending abysmal amount on research in comparison to other top countries. The latest data available from world bank was from 2012. But since it was not available for some countries,  2011 was chosen here to compare –

Global Research Spending by Major Countries

Country Year 2011
Korea 4.04
Israel 3.97
Japan 3.39
Swedan 3.39
Germany 2.89
Austria 2.77
USA 2.76
Iceland 2.6
Slovenia 2.47
France 2.25
Singapore 2.23
Belgium 2.21
Netherlands 2.03
China 1.84
Canada 1.79
UK 1.78
Russia 1.09
India 0.81

So, India spent 0.81 % of its GDP in 2011 or 15 billion US dollars. The west in general spends more than double to 5 times of India in percent terms. After adding this new spending,  does it change anything.  Well, with  this miniscule addition of 0.09%, it amounts to nothing when India’s biggest IT company TCS spends 900 Crore Rupees (14 million dollars)  itself which is close to this figure of 1000 Crore Rupees (15 million dollars) announced by govt of India. Also, if  this change will bring research from scientific labs of the govt or universities, institutes etc to the commercial entities is not clear. One can not think any new bridges have been built there between labs and industry.

Lately, India has made lots of interaction on international stage either by visiting their countries or inviting them over. India has been focussing to get some Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from all these countries. But given that except few countries all are in deep hole. The few who have deep pockets are in Gulf, China or Norway(having largest pool of Oil related sovereign fund).  The UAE, China, Japan, US, Germany etc pledged to invest in India but how much does it really fructify remains to be seen. To attract this FDI, India of course had to give away something – which is market access. In some industries as defence and insurance, it has given access to 49% equity holding but in many areas the foreign companies or individuals can get access to  even 100% equity.

Only the other day, India’s one mobile infrastructure company Viom was sold to American Tower Corporation (ATC). After the deal in which it buys 51% holding of Indian which has 11.5% share of the market, the combined entity will have close to 15% market share or to the number three position  in the fragmented market. It is expected that this type of M&A activity will gather pace. Though a private law firm, “Linklaters” operating from Hong Kong says this – “The largest interest in Indian M&A has come from investors in the US.” The overall volume is down by 10% to second half of 2014 but in value terms the new FDI amount brought in  is now 15 billion dollars.

There is another Gold Monetisation Scheme announced for the festive Nov Season by govt of India. it is estimated  to mobilise a part of 20,000 tonnes (about 750 billion dollars) of idle gold lying with households and temples. What will it do to the International  bullion market also remains to be seen as that depends heavily on the Indian gold demand. Will it effect the gold jewellery makers as the people will deposit their gold in the banks to to earn interest on their gold. The logic says the state will melt this gold and use this to sell overseas to use the fund for development project like infrastructure building. So, two things should happen – first the state will give full interest only if it is allowed to melt the jewellery into gold, that means  who will spend money to  make jewellery . It means it should certainly affect the jewellery sector work. It also should affect the gold prices. it seems that the only way is down for them from here onward. Will it affect the international gold mining – of course it should. With most of the mining sector already sick, this certainly should drag gold sector in doldrums too. Being the largest gold producer of 300 tonnes, South Africa should be affected most of them all. But given nothing much came out of many pre-election promises (return of black money from abroad) , one should not assume that this scheme will definitely take shape or  be successful.

GoldJewelleryGoldBars

What about reforms on land, labour and GST(to transform india into one integrated market) etc. While GST is definitely on the schedule, it will be implemented on 1st April 2016 as per the govt website GST India. The growth estimated to be boosted by GST is estimated around 1.5 to 2% . This will give definitely boost to manufacturing. But any boost to manufacturing also needs many more ingredients e.g. increase in capacity of transportation networks, power generation  besides  the ability to hire labour at short term basis. There was a short one day strike in Sep, 2015  by labour unions. As per Economist’s article where union leaders claimed  150 millions downed their tool. The article said “The government wants to streamline India’s 44 labour laws into five codes covering wages, conditions, social security, industrial relations and training. It also proposes to raise the employment threshold at which employers must ask for permission from government to lay off workers—from 100 employees to 300—a reform that has already been adopted in the state of Rajasthan. In return it has offered unions a national minimum wage and a broader social-security net. Since only a small proportion of India workers are protected by any such legislation, there ought to be a new labour deal that would work for all. Sadly, many union bosses think otherwise.” So, chances of labour reforms succeeding do not look good. But even without it, labour laws are not completely archaic.There are many sectors where hiring and firing is easy and in Govt also  the voluntary retirement schemes are running.

The land reforms are already rolled back for now as the current incumbent govt do not control both houses and the opposition was in no mood to oblige the govt. But while land may be an issue in short term, it is not an issue in long term. The govt has time on its side to wait for this.

What about power sector reforms – well an article in June 2015 of Livemint, a financial paper asked its readers at the end of article “Will the government enact pricing reforms in the power sector?“. That says it all which means the reforms need one of the biggest courage from the govt. The chances of that happening looks slim at best as there are no talks seem on the horizon for its reforms.

There is one good initiative of integrating rural hinterland into banking sector by opening some 10 new banks  each with initial paid up equity of 200 crores rupees.  In her talks with Bloomberg, ICICI bank chief Mrs Kochar(youTube video) said  recently that  this initiative  will bring 180 million new bank customers, but the sword of Damocles keeps hanging in the form of non-performing assets (NPAs) of banks as the problem stays untackled. The patent regime to protect its own industry let alone companies of outside countries also needs strengthening and so does the capacity enhancement to judicial system. It is creaking at the moment. So, where does this all leave India.  Well, it amounts to nothing much for now.  But India is gathering steam bit by bit. One has to hold the breath. Perhaps, it will definitely achieve its potential or  bring success to the “Make in India” initiative if  it tackles many crucial ingredients mentioned here and it is definitely looking good at the moment.

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