The Oxford dictionary defines indigenization as the action or process of bringing something under the control, dominance or influence of the people native to an area. This basically means substitution of an imported product with the one manufactured within the country. Although this does not make the latter a replica of the former as they are both essentially the same product except the ‘home-manufactured’ one has slight changes like modern sub-assemblies, be more energy efficient and more effective in the local environment.
In 2014, the ‘Make in India’ scheme was launched to improve India’s manufacturing prowess and open more vacancies for employment. The core goal of this scheme was to support the indigenization of technologies be it electronics, ICT, defence, space, transport, etc.
In today’s world where there is a cut-throat competition between countries with respect to economy, military and infrastructure, technology place an important factor in improving the rate of growth. But what is even more vital is that the men behind the machines can comprehend the technology. Therefore, indigenization of technology and shifting to new technology are one of the foremost priorities of the leaders across the globe, who want to see their nation prosper.
Significance of Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technologies
Indigenization is crucial step for a developing economy to transform itself into a developed economy. Hence, it holds huge economic significance. With the increasing globalisation, more and more men and material resources are being available for the foreign nations to utilise for their benefits through bilateral ties. This leads to underutilisation of its own resources by the nation to develop itself. Using of own natural resources is cheaper and easy to harness.
It is also to be noted that for developing nations, indigenization is the prologue of development of new technology. Hence indigenization holds significance in R&D too. As long as a country is able to successfully implement indigenization of technology, it earns the capability of stand independently and perform further research and develop new technology on its own.
This is not only a technological advancement in itself, but also a huge morale booster for the citizens of India. After all, innovation is crucial to develop new technology.
Science and Technology are the basis of evolution of a nation into a global super power. Science has made works easier and more efficient over the period of time and is constantly evolving as a result of intense global competition. Therefore staying dependent on another nation’s technology will allow this nation to have access to all our data and information which is a very risky game altogether.
Hence to limit other nation’s access to the information of our nation and secure the nation’s interests can only be possible upon implementing indigenization of technology. This gives indigenization the national and territorial security significance.
Advantages of Indigenization of Technology
There are various ways in which indigenization of foreign technology can prove fruitful. Firstly, it has a huge psychological and socioeconomic impact. Indigenization leads to a sense of independence and accomplishment among the citizens. Furthermore, it broadens the job openings in manufacturing and other services sector. Additionally, post indigenization cost of production is cheaper for the same quality of product as compared to importing the technology.
Indigenization also promotes the culture of science and technology in the country. Once we have full autonomy over technology and essentially call it ‘ours’, it vastly improves scope of research and development promoting various institutes to take up more projects in the name of innovation. This ultimately leads to technological advancement of our nation which further contributes to the betterment of the economy.
Finally, only the natives fully understand what specifications and optimum calibrations a machine requires to be able to operate in the regional conditions. When the technology meets the specific needs and demands of the locals, they will be able to operate it more skilfully and improve the productivity of the respective field of utilisation.
Development of New Technology
Once a nation becomes self-sufficient in terms of technology, the next step involves innovation to develop new technology. This involves efforts at multiple levels along with proper cooperation and coordination to keep in mind all the necessities of developing a new technology.
Firstly, the duties of the government include implementing national and state policies to establish a healthy environment that encourages competition and innovation in both private and public sector. This can be achieved by stressing on four major areas-
- Maintaining strong competitive pressure on domestic market.
- Harbouring high quality human capital.
- Improving the networking between industry-institution-academia.
- Openness and ease of access to foreign technologies.
Furthermore, another important and decisive factor is the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) framework of the nation. IPR protects an individual or an organisation’s original work, invention or discovery from being used by other parties for profits. This encourages research and development in the nation leading to advancement in indigenous technology.
Secondly, for private and public sector companies, it is important to identify potential talents and support them whole-heartedly. This will simultaneously boost the profits and prestige of the companies which ultimately leads to developing the country’s technology too. This can be done by funding and investing on entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship ventures, tapping into the youth potential of the country. Further support can be provided in the form of securing equipment and material for developing the new technology.
Indigenization and Development of New Technologies in Various Sectors of Indian Economy
Right from 1947, India had identified the need of becoming a self-sustainable nation and pushed for indigenization of various sectors of economy. It is widely accepted that the Indian economy developed in five phases in terms of strengthening the science and technology department.
Phase I was focused on building relevant infrastructure, phase 2 included reorientation, phase 3 promoted the use and application of indigenous technology, phase 4 involved moving towards the economic liberalisation and finally, phase 5 involves development of Science and technology in a economically liberalised nation.
The extent of indigenization and development of new technology in India can be measured using six keystone sectors-
- Agriculture; as it has a major share in India’s GDP.
- Automobile; since it is a vital part of connectivity and networking.
- Information and Communication Technology; fastest growing sector in India.
- Healthcare and biotechnology; emerging field of science and technology.
- Space; symbolic significance in field of science and technology.
- Defence; crucial for maintaining security of the state.
Agriculture has been predominantly an indigenous industry. It was in focus from the first five year plan to improve the situation of the farming and animal rearing sector to meet the shortages in food that was caused due to sudden increase in population as a result of the refugee influx.
Agriculture was already the biggest sector of production and employment in the 20th century. To further improve the crop and animal yield various industry-specific revolutions were observed like the Green Revolution-which introduced use of novel fertilisers, HYV plants and modern irrigation technology to farming.
White revolution- improved production of milk by strengthening the coordination between the primary producers and secondary producers (milkmen and companies). Blue revolution occurred to improve quality of aquaculture and yellow revolution which improved the extraction, processing and market of vegetable oils in India.
Recently, genetically modified crops are being introduced as novel crops which are high yielding as well as disease resistant. These were developed by implementing rDNA technology in agricultural practices.
Transport and automobile industry has remained in demand especially as a result of rapid urbanisation. This sector has always been dominated by private sector player. The earliest of the cars were imported from Britain and other European nations. This exposed the western car companies to the Indian scene.
This was followed by first attempt towards indigenization as the first manufacturing plants of Fiat were established in India. Over the years, many more western stakeholders would enter the Indian automobile market, increasing competition.
Indian counterparts too entered this market by 1980’s in the form of Maruti and Tata (a decade later). They were a hit on the road due to their efficient manoeuvrability on the Indian roads which the western vehicles lacked. Today, Maruti and Tata have created world class sedans, and are automobile giants in the nation.
ICT and IT industry are perhaps the best ever success story of Indian economy. It started in 1974 when Burroughs, a computer mainframe manufacturer asked its Indian sales agent Tata Consultancy Services to outsource programmers to help them out. India’s fame as accomplished IT services nation had just started to grow.
But technology that we used was imported from the west. The computers, the instructors, the clients and the product being made was more of an international market thing than for domestic market. But over the years, this was to change as more and more Indian IT companies began to rise in fame because of their innovative designs that appealed to the domestic consumers.
The likes of Infosys, Wipro, Anand Computing, iBall, Tata Elxsi, etc. are the evidence of indigenization and development of modern and target-consumer specific computers.
Healthcare is an important sector in which India has been able to achieve great heights. Today, people from around the world are coming to India to conduct their treatment in Indian hospitals. While indigenization of medical and biotechnological resources is yet to be fully achieved, but the workforce consisting of doctors, paramedics and nurses have become adept in using the current technologies.
Biotechnology is comparatively a newer field than healthcare and medicine. But even this sector has made a considerable impact in healthcare practices by introducing innovative applications like gene mapping, tailor made drug dosage and other such technologies.
Companies like Biocon, Panacea Biotech and others have already been well established and are prompting more and more biotech students to take up the employment in their sector
Space has been a muscle flex by India on various other countries. From launching Aryabhatta on a Russian rocket to launching missile Chandrayaan 2 on an indigenous rocket, these have always brought laurels to India.
Dr. Vikiram Sarabhai and ISRO are to be thanked for the feats achieved by India in terms of space technology in the recent years, launching satellites and spacecrafts with minimal budgets. Indian Space research and development have been sufficiently funded and supported by the union governments down the line, providing them with funds and resources to carry forward R&D.
Finally, we come to defence. India’s mixed economy puts all the defence manufacturing under public sector undertaking. With that being said, India is also the world’s largest importer of arms and military equipment. Most of the aircraft’s, guns and ships are from western countries, especially Russia, the USA, Israel and other places.
Russia has been India’s all-weather ally and has been constantly supplying weapons and aircraft’s to India. But over the years, Indian military forces have become vintage in nature. The weapons that we use as well as a few planes that are still in service signify the need for immediate modernisation of the forces.
But thankfully, India has started to take baby steps towards defence indigenization. The F-INSAS programme is supposed to convert the Indian Army into a futuristic terrestrial force and is completely being developed under Indian supervision.
Similarly, HAL Tejas, a light combat aircraft has been the first single-engine fighter plane to be completely manufactured in India. In fact, Tejas was the star of the ‘Make in India’ policy. While these steps are being taken to ensure that the military is able to keep up with the levels of other military forces, India’s tag as the largest military importer will remain for a while indicating complete indigenization to be difficult in near future.
Technological advancement is a must for economic growth of a nation. But what is even more important is indigenization of that technology so that it can be implemented with full effect in tackling issues and successfully overcoming them. Furthermore, indigenization is also viewed as pre-cursor to innovation which leads to development of new technology in a much more inexpensive cost than imported technology.
Moreover, indigenization reinforces the identity of citizens in national sense, making them feel a collective pride in the form of the owning the technology as ‘Indians’.
This has a positive effect on the confidence of the people which shows in their work, that ultimately makes them more productive. Therefore, it is important for governments and companies to promote indigenization and development of new technology as it is a noble task that will lead to a brighter future for the nation.