The term “Swadeshi” may have different connotations for different people. It may arouse national feelings. Swadeshi was a slogan to exhort people to put the nation before self and also look for larger participation by the people in nation building.
The term Swadeshi reminiscences one of the early days of our national struggle for attaining independence when Gandhiji gave a nation-wide call for rejection of foreign goods, particularly foreign textiles.
This call received an over-whelming response from the people of the country in general, due to the sentimental issue of attaining independence from British regime at touched with this call. But nowadays, with the changes in time, nobody subscribes to this extreme form of Swadeshi though its appeal has far- reaching impact across the ideological barriers.
Recently, in India Swadeshi as an alternative policy package has been mooted by a section of population to shun westernization as well as follower style modernisation and to promote human welfare through the adoption viable modernisation.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is an ardent supporter of this Swadeshi policy. Although the policy (Swadeshi) did not get any approval from the previous United Front Government but the BJP-led coalition Government which was sworn in on 19th March, 1998, started to coin its idea of Swadeshi in its economic policies.
Although the policy of Swadeshi had gained its momentum under the BJP- led coalition Government but the policy had also started to face much reform in order to suit under the present global economic set up.
The decision taken by the BJP-led coalition Government to continue the process of economic reforms along with a strong “Swadeshi” thrust and also pledging a 7 to 8 per cent growth in its gross domestic product (GDP) is a step to reassure foreign investors who are very much worried about the fate of economic reform under the new set up and dispensation.
Obviously, the BJP and its alliance partners in the mean time, had encountered this aforesaid problem in spelling out their branded Swadeshi in their National Agenda.
While facing a direct question on the process of economic reforms with a Swadeshi thrust, they try to ensure that the national economy grows on the principle that India must be built by Indians, which is a kind of elucidation incorporated in the National Agenda.
With the persuasion of the process of economic reforms along with globalisation, the National Agenda promised “to carefully analyse the effects of globalisation, calibrate the process of it by devising a time table to suit our national conditions and requirements so as to undermine but strengthen the national economy, the indigenous industrial base and the financial and service sectors.”
But this does not have the way for elucidating the concept of Swadeshi.
Moreover, under the present regime of liberalisation, the new Government should set up a Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) as a watchdog body, in line with US Federal Regulatory Commission, so as to protect the interests of the consumers.
Another group of economists and social scientists argue that the concept “Swadeshi” gained some importance very recently, i.e., four or five years after economic reforms was initiated.
They are of the view that those business people who do not have the capacity or willingness to face competition and thereby want to have protectionists policy so that in the absence of competition, those domestic producers can pressurize domestic consumers to purchase its shoddy products at higher prices and to earn even monopoly profits.
They also argue that the protectionists policies pursued over the last five decades lead to no improvement in the production and quality of consumer goods produced in India.
But the reality, as they argue, is that some people have been maintaining strong vested interests in continuing protectionists policies so that they can continue to rake, in monopoly profits simply by pressurizing the unwilling consumers to accept these shoddy goods at exorbitant prices.
Therefore, the Swadeshi argument, in its present form is not in a position to cut much ice with the consumer as high import tariff will simply activate the dying smuggling business activities.
Thus what is need of the hour is to accept the challenge of foreign competition by those unworthy domestic producers by restructuring their businesses, induction of adequate new technologies, improving the quality of their products and diversifying the market of their products.
In this connection, there is need to establish link between the industry and universities and research institutes for developing technologies and products which are of international quality.
By adopting this process they will be able to face competition and can sell their products to the domestic consumers instead of arguing in favour of Swadeshi. Once they can satisfy the domestic consumers, they will be able to extend the market of this products at the international level and in this way Indian entrepreneurs will be able to emerge as world players in the international market.
Moreover, it is also very difficult to deny that India has become the founder member of World Trade Organisation (WTO) after signing the treaty in 1995. Under the present set up, it is quite impossible to reverse our economic policy towards protectionism from the present trend of globalisation.
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