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India’s self-reliance goal must not to be taken as move ‘towards isolating itself’, says Sunil Munjal

Country has to focus on exports to become a key player in global trade, the Hero Enterprises Chairman said.

India’s self-reliance campaign must not by any stretch of imagination be taken as a move "towards isolating itself", but to be a part of the global value chain, it must improve standards, skill levels, consistency and service levels to consumers and customers, Hero Enterprises Chairman Sunil Kant Munjal said on Saturday.

Speaking at the 25th Wharton India Economic Forum, he said India has to become a significant exporter if it has to become a key player in global trade and the country’s industry and businesses want to stand up and be counted to meet the ambitions.

Stating that there are two aspects that must be kept in mind regarding Aatmanirbhar campaign and global competitiveness, he said, "One is for India to become better at what it does is absolutely essential but Aatmanirbhar must not by any stretch of imagination be taken as India’s move towards isolating itself. That’s a very important point that we must all remember."

He further said: "India wants to be a part of a global value chain. India and Indian industry, and Indian business wants to stand up and be counted."

The other, Mr. Munjal said, "We have to remember that for India to be a part of the global value chain we have to improve our standards, we have to improve our skill levels and we have to improve both consistency and service levels to consumers and customers." Citing the example of how Japanese goods were once derided for low quality, he said, "Then Japan in the 70s became the greatest manufacturing machine in the world." Same thing happened to Taiwan, South Korea and China after that, he added.

Mr. Munjal said today India has the "the amazing capability of the underlying technological platforms having got strengthened in the last few years, which allow robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence to come in, alongside what we were doing to enhance the capabilities".

He, however, added India must ensure that the new technologies are only used as tools and not get driven by it as the country also has the need to ensure that "millions and millions" of its citizens are productively employed.

"…it should be done for the right reason. So it is both sides actually operating… For India, it is also an essential requirement and it can serve a great need in the world as well," Mr. Munjal added.

Reiterating the significance of exports, Mr. Munjal said, "In some sense it is also a part of the Aatmanirbhar movement that if India has to become a key player then India has to become a significant exporter."

Stating that the Indian market is an amazing learning place, he said, "It is a nursery that we must all train and learn. We have to be competitive across the globe. Somebody making brass components in Moradabad, some engineering components in Rajkot or a bicycle component in Ludhiana all have to compete with those in Brazil and the U.S. and other places."

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