Updated March 10th, 2024 at 21:45 IST

Settling for 'Jugaad' when we are capable of 'Jhakaas': Anand Mahindra

Vouching for public-private partnership to scale globally, Mahindra said sticking to the tried and true was "post colonial subservience disorder” (PCSD)

Reported by: Business Desk
Anand Mahindra | Image:Facebook Photo
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Partnership for next level: Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra has vouched for collaboration between Indian companies and the government for realising India’s ambition of becoming a global power.

Speaking at the 4th Annual Atal Bihari Vajpayee Lecture, Mahindra said a lack of private sector investments and the government fuelling disproportionate growth through investment is because of a risk aversion mindset. 

"I’m not sure it’s a resource problem. I think it’s a problem again of mindset of risk aversion, of lowered aspirations, PCSD (post colonial subservience disorder) shackles us with invisible handcuffs that we don’t even realise are there. It shakes our self belief and waters down our aspirations, and in business it makes us risk averse. Sticking to the tried and true, rather than blazing new paths, it makes us fear failure,” he said.

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Mahindra added that it makes people settle for 'Jugaad' when they are capable of 'Jhakaas' — a Marathi colloquial word for ‘wow’. We have carried this imputed sense of inferiority for long, he said, adding that it is time to change.

He also highlighted the large-scale investments made in sunrise sectors such as semiconductors and batteries, hoping for them marking the advent of a strong investment cycle.

Mahindra asked the government for supporting the domestic industry in terms of extending the PLI scheme to more sectors, making regulations easier for start-ups and innovators and lower logistics costs to help them increase competitiveness. 

He also called for an increase in research spending in India. Mahindra stressed on forming a robust partnership between the public and private sector to incentivise India’s innate upper hand for being a global power. 

"I am advocating for a government partnership with Indian companies in three major areas — scale, innovation, and global reach. While Korea and Japan helped their companies to build scale through industrial policy and protectionism until their companies reached scale to go global, India did not choose that path," he said.

While he said he was glad India did not tread on the path, he emphasised the country’s businesses do need nurturing and incentivisation for scale. 

“Not through protectionism but support for a limited time horizon," he said adding the productivity-linked incentive schemes are on the right path, providing businesses a runway to venture into new sectors and industries.

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On some questions raised on the PLI scheme, Mahindra said lessons and changes are welcome. He added that the scheme has given courage for capacity building.

“Schemes can’t last forever and that’s a good thing but can we spread it wider? Can we spread the reach of PLI schemes to cover larger sections of industry?" he asked.

Listing the challenges which impact the competitiveness of Indian industry, he said manufacturing costs are irrationally high and land costs, utility costs, logistics costs, collectively contribute to a lack of competitiveness. 

Mahindra also vouched for innovations in real estate, as well as regulations and judicial reform for more value just like initiatives for setting up of the India stack and NPCI’s payment rails changed things and provided efficiencies to the industry to deliver concrete value.

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He also spoke on the issues faced by start-ups, saying that conversations with them reflected how they were lost in the puzzle of existing regulations and controls applied to them, sometimes even retrospectively," he said. 

He said the government is working on easing business for investors, but sought for making life simpler for innovators, who are pioneers and potential unicorns.

"We need regulators to work as partners and proponents rather than being seen as taskmaster," he noted.

He also called for the encouragement of humongous amounts of innovation for a resurgent India, "and the less obstacles there are in the way, the better." 

While vouching for government support on global reach, Mahindra said, "Scale and global reach go together like the proverbial horse and carriage. Once scale is unlocked, it needs global reach to be fully leveraged. Made in India must become a globally recognisable brand."

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This calls for more marketing, more trade shows, and more participation in global meets to showcase 'Made in India' to the world. 

He also called for international aid tied to Indian industry, tying foreign aid to purchasing from Indian manufacturers to enter otherwise closed markets.

(With PTI Inputs)

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Published March 10th, 2024 at 21:45 IST