Made In USA vs. Make In India: A Tale of Two Slogans

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“Come, make in India,” announced India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech, a few months after he took office. That one line was enough to launch a huge public debate, if not a thousand industries (at least not yet), across the country.

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Followed up by an official launch of the campaign, attended by Indian and international industry head honchos, the unveiling of an official logo, et al, the Make In India mantra has certainly caught the fancy of not only domestic and foreign industrial majors, but also that of the lay population in the world’s largest democracy. After all, for the guy on the street, the campaign holds the promise of a job.

A comparison with the Made In USA campaign is thus inevitable. That started off as a street level movement, sparked not by policy makers but by American pride dwelling in the hearts of its citizens. A grassroots movement that started small and rose up. In the last 3 years or so, that effort has turned into a groundswell of American self-esteem.

The US movement, however, is more inward-looking, often dubbed as “resourcing” or “reverse sourcing,” to ensure that US companies move manufacturing and other business activities back to the US, to create about 5 million American jobs by the end of this decade. Many in the American media have said the renewed love affair with US products comes after almost 3 decades of decline in the manufacturing industry, coupled with the recent fall in energy prices and the rise of labor costs in China.
On the other hand, the flight of jobs to countries such as China (and India in the case of the US) was not the sole motivation behind Modi’s Make in India move. This is a top-to-bottom crusade; the clarion call given by none other than the nation’s PM.

The Made In USA movement can be compared to the tightening of a fist, while the Make In India one is more like an open arm gesture, to embrace all those willing to set up shop in India, literally. For that reason, in a sense, the slogans and the movements behind them are on a direct collision course…

The author, Sohrab Darabshaw, contributes an Indian perspective on industrial metals markets to MetalMiner.

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