The search for self-sufficiency | HT Editorial – Editorials
Last week, addressing gram panchayat chiefs across the country, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi spoke of how a great lesson from the pandemic was the need for self-reliance: how each town, district, state, and country all , necessary to be self-sufficient. He stressed that it was no longer possible to depend on the outside world. His statement is understandable. As global supply chains break, borders become tighter, the flow of goods and labor becomes more difficult, countries become insular, and protectionist policies become acceptable, the world will not be what it is. was. India will therefore have to boost national capacities.
But at the same time, the Prime Minister’s statement represents a significant change in what has been India’s trajectory for at least three decades. Since the days of seeking self-sufficiency as a post-colonial country in the 1950s and 1960s, India, partially in the 1980s, but more substantially in 1991 and later decades, embraced the idea of connectivity and globalization. The idea that a country, much less a state, cannot produce everything; that taking advantage of each other’s comparative advantages was economically sound through a liberal trade regime; and that being interconnected was an asset gained ground. This has helped India to grow. The pandemic may represent a partial investment in this worldview.
More crucially, is the ambition of self-sufficient villages, districts or states possible? Migration has taken place, consumer goods have penetrated every corner, agricultural markets are united, supply chains are interconnected, and technology and connectivity drive the economy and society in complex ways. Domestic capabilities need to be boosted in the new context, but self-reliance may not be the most realistic goal.