The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) recently organised a virtual conference on Global Value Chains – Backward and Forward integration. The session on Smart Manufacturing & Industry 4.0 – Delivering the next generation of manufacturing was addressed by Dr Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister, Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Government of India. Speaking at the session, Pandey stated, “The government’s focus on manufacturing through programs such as ‘Make in India’ and policies such as the ‘National Policy for Advanced Manufacturing’, Industry 4.0 could play a key role in boosting the manufacturing sector’s share in the country’s GDP to 25 % by 2022 from the current 17%.
According to him, almost a decade ago, for every 1 rupee that the government would spend, only 15% would reach to the ultimate target group due to corruption from the middlemen. “These things are not possible now due to digital technology. Even during the challenging pandemic times, the government managed to directly credit the accounts of the lakhs of impoverished people with benefits which were aimed for them,” he said.
Speaking on the Maadhyam portal, the honourable minister stated that the platform would allow investors to identify and apply for various pre-operation clearances needed for starting business in the country. “This will certainly ease the biggest challenges of multiple stakeholders’ approval and the platform will do away with the need for multiple applications across various departments,” he said.
Deciphering the future of the manufacturing industry in the country, Vineet Agarwal, President, ASSOCHAM, asserted, “The focus on manufacturing will help India in leveraging its demographic dividend, as the vast youth population of the country can be engaged in the sector. This mandates a strong skilling focus to enhance employability and reduce the burden on the agricultural industry. However, India would need to strike a balance between emerging technologies and the country’s massive labour force by investing in high technology sectors, as well as in the development of labour-intensive sectors.”
According to Agarwal, Industry 4.0 is likely to create widespread disruptions in the labour market. “The key stakeholders — the government, industry and academy institutions — have to come together to rethink the way education system functions and encourage reskilling to make employees competitive. The stakeholders need to change the skill map and take remedial actions to accommodate fast-paced technology trends,” he pointed out.
Moving further, Vinod Pandey, Chairman, ASSOCHAM Manufacturing & Capital Goods Council and Director – Government Affair and External Affairs, BMW India, added, “The acceleration of fourth industrial revolution - Industry 4.0 or Connected Factory – however holds the power to steer the industry out of the current crisis. Breakthrough technologies, like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), sensors and advanced analytics can equip manufacturers with the tools and foresight they need to thrive in the post COVID-19 world.” He informed that the government can also play a crucial role to encourage employment and bridge the skill gaps for successful implementation of Industry 4.0.
“There is a heightened responsibility for the government in making sure that Industry 4.0 is accessible to the MSME segment – the segment of India Inc that comprises some 60 million enterprises and contributes to 45% of the country’s total manufacturing output,” he said.
Moving further, Chirag Baijal, Co-Chairman, ASSOCHAM Manufacturing & Capital Goods and Managing Director, Carrier, stated, “India has overtaken developed countries, like the US, in the Global Manufacturing Risk Index released recently. This is an indication of the growing interest in India by manufacturers as a preferred manufacturing hub over other countries including the United States and the manufacturing giant nation, China.”
Similarly, Kulwin Seehra, Chairman Punjab State Development Council & Executive Director, GNA Axles, informed, “The government initiatives to popularise digital technology solutions are helping industry recognise the importance of digital capabilities, such as Artificial intelligence and Internet of Things. Both automation and manual labour can work together. In critical process where there is a huge risk to human life a lot of processes can be automated. This would also help in achieving more productivity.”