How Will Go Vocal for Local Help Fight Coronavirus?

In his fifth address to the Nation on May 12, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Nation to go vocal for local. This announcement comes after the Coronavirus pandemic and its outbreak in the country. The Prime Minister has called on all Indians to work for making India self-reliant amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

To quote from his, the PM said, “Corona pandemic has taught us well the importance of local manufacturing, local market, local supply chain. In the hour of need, local has fulfilled our demands and saved us. Local is not a necessity but a responsibility for all of us.” He further added, “We not only need to buy local products but we need to proudly promote those products as well.”

Let us first understand what does go vocal for local and go local mean before understanding Prime Minister’s quotation with some simple examples.

Vocal for local is not a programme, policy or just another slogan but it is a principle which guides us to support our own local people, mostly the lower and middle income groups who are the backbone of our economy. It doesn’t mean we start boycotting foreign products, rather it means we should support our own products and promote the use of the products produced locally in India, thus in turn making our contribution in converting those products as a global brand.

There are two aspects of going local, the realisation of which could be one of the vital assets in the revival of our economy. The economy has presently slowed down as a direct consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic. The two aspects are:

  • Our own products produced in India
  • The products of the global brands produced locally in India (remember Make in India!)

Therefore, now let us try to understand these two aspects hidden in the Prime Minister’s quotation with simplifying examples.

Prime Minister Modi touched upon the first aspect in his address by giving us the example of khadi. He said, “I am proud to recollect that I had asked citizens to buy khadi and to support handloom workers. In a short time, demand and sales touched record levels. Khadi became a big brand because of you and we got good and effective results.”

Going vocal for local would also afford us the opportunity to export. In the current COVID-19 crisis, we have not only exhibited our ability to produce products like N95 masks for our own consumption but we have also helped other nations by supplying them medicines.

However, we need to take into account that local does not mean products Made in India by Indian companies only, but also those manufactured in India by multinational companies. This is where the second aspect of global brands producing locally in India comes into picture. Anything manufactured in India, be it by any domestic company or by multinational companies, it benefits the people of India.

Let us take the example of Swedish companies like IKEA and Volvo that are operating in India. These two companies are manufacturing every day furniture and trucks, respectively. As a result of their manufacturing in India, many local jobs are created for Indians.

Also, in the context of the ongoing pandemic, it would enable the companies for a quicker recovery in operations if they are located in different geographies. Therefore, it is important that we do not concentrate all manufacturing operations in a particular geographical region or in one country from a supply chain perspective. Such a concentration is also detrimental from an environmental perspective as well.

Importing products using trucks, aircrafts and ships to bring us the products from another country takes a toll on the environment. The shipping industry burns huge amounts of gas, and releases pollution affecting our health and contributes to global warming and climate change.

There are now many environmental conscious and responsible people, who are planning to buy hybrid cars and shift to eco-friendly products in their daily life. They should certainly be appreciated for incorporating these choices in their day to day life. But what they might not realize is that if these products are not produced locally and have been imported from far-away locations, then they have already contributed towards pollution during their import journey.

The post-COVID scenario, along with the Prime Minister’s call, can help create a healthy shift in the manufacturing mindset in India. It is often believed that Indian brands like Flipkart and Ola have been formed as a result of direct mirroring of global brands like Amazon and Uber, respectively.

But the go vocal for local call has the potential of transforming the India manufacturing sector with ideas and innovations and we will soon be able to witness mirroring of India’s local brands by the global market. Indian brands will then achieve the status of truly ingenious global brands and that will only be just another benefit of going vocal for local, with many more to come!

Pritam Kumar Padhi

Pritam K. Padhi holds a master's degree in Management and Economics of Innovation from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.

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