With the Prime Minister having recently made a strong pitch outlining his vision for India to become a $5-trillion economy by 2024-25, the kind of innovative suggestion made thereafter by the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA)—namely an ‘Assemble in India’ strategy as a sub-part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative—is just the right kind of solution that can be quickly incorporated within our public policy spaces.
In fact, now that the CEA has let the cat out of the bag—ensuring, in the process, that ‘assembly-centric’ manufacturing may perhaps no longer remain an F-word—it may be interesting to examine how government of India’s evolving public procurement frameworks (such as ‘Make in India’ and the MSME policies) and public procurement platforms (such as the Government e-Marketplace: the GeM) could be aligned with the core elements of the PM’s vision and the CEA’s suggested toolkit.
Of course, this kind of policy and implementation focus was wanting some years ago; this author recalls a particularly curious government tender circa 2010, where the Notice Inviting Tender (NIT) had eligibility conditions allowing only Indian entities to bid, but the technical specifications and performance characteristics contained therein stipulated that the supplied product must be fully imported! Thankfully, that kind of wizardry is now a rare event in government tenders; for almost a decade now, we have witnessed a concerted and steadily stronger approach to embedding local manufacturing and MSME contracting requirements within India’s public procurement frameworks, leveraging the size of her public procurement marketplace, both federal and state, comprising over 20% of her GDP.
Within this context, some notable government of India policy initiatives has been the (2012) public procurement policies for MSMEs; the (2013) policy for preferences to domestically manufactured electronic goods; the (2013) defence procurement procedures prioritising ‘Buy Indian’ and laying down indigenous content requirements; and the (2017) orders for preference to ‘Make in India’ in public procurement.s