Remake in India

Rupa Gulab

It’s truly upsetting that the hyper-nationalist BJP government has asked China to make Sardar Patel’s statue. Some of us have gone into a state of shock. This definitely weakens its ‘Make in India’ slogan and makes the roaring lion logo look like a mewling kitten stuck on a tree-top. Oh, and I’m also going to make sure that I never stand next to that statue when it is installed. No way! I’ve seen how little bits and pieces of my ‘Made in China’ laptop fall off whenever it goes through airport security scanners. Shudder.

Not that India is any better than China when it comes to manufacturing products. My most important cooking implements include a screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a pot-holder (pakkad). My kitchen wouldn’t run without them and that’s because the handles of all my pots and pans fall off within the first two months. As for my pressure cooker, it blows its gasket as often as Arnab Goswami of Times Now, but, unfortunately, the Modi government hasn’t bothered to offer me ‘Y’ security too. It’s just too bad that they care for a perennially angry, provocative warmonger much more than they care for zillions of helpful, harmless housewives – hello, the chances of us getting blown up are far greater. But then, the BJP always looks after its own loudspeakers first, sigh.

While I’m well aware that love and other relationships don’t last forever, I would like to believe that material things can. I grew up in an age when, if your parents owned a Philips gramophone player, your grandchildren could listen to great-great-grandma’s and great-great-grandpa’s Elvis Presley records on it too. Now, the callous policy of use and throw is at play, and that really bothers me because, heck, it kills me to discard laptops, cell phones and DVD players as frequently as gunk-smeared tissues.

As for India’s ‘jugaad’, I’m not fond of it at all! And I say this even while one hinge of my reading glasses has been put together with a safety pin, and the other arm patched with sellotape. Jugaad can go only so far and no more, and I’ve wisely ordered a new pair of spectacles. What India really needs is to flush the practice of jugaad down the new Swachh Bharat potty (if the flush is working, that is – fingers crossed) and create products that can last close to a lifetime, at the very least. The sort that you throw away only because you’re bored with them, not because they’re faulty.

As for China, why do we want to copy them, for God’s sake? Their products may be exported around the world, but they’re cheap, tacky and most have a shorter life span than a gnat.  What we should do is, make not just better products than China’s but as good as the western world’s (psst, my 10-year-old ‘Made in France’ frying pan still has its handle!). Then we can hold our heads high and announce to the world that we create the best products at cheaper prices. Until then, ‘Make in India’ is just a wishful slogan that, when reduced to an acronym, sounds a bit desperate, like hysterical begging: MII! MII! MII! On the flip side, it encapsulates our Dear Leader’s ‘I, Me & Myself’ state of mind perfectly, so I would say that it’s a terrific fit.

The government really should be pragmatic and change the slogan to ‘Remake in India’, then crack the whip on its wealthy industrialist buddies who cut corners with impunity. Oh, and here’s another inspiring slogan (from the bemused People of India to the Government, for a change):

‘Work more, talk less,

 Only gorillas thump their chests!’

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: NOVEMBER 2016