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"Media should hold the government's feet to the fire to realise Make In India:" CNN's Fareed Zakaria

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MUMBAI: The Make In India week inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 13 February has made Mumbai a site of several activities. All for a united cause -- to spearhead a thriving environment of manufacturing industries in India and invite foreign direct investment (FDI) in several industry sectors.

While the vision of Make In India has gone from being a popular Twitter hashtag to actual substantial talk about the real issues that need to be addressed about manufacturing in India, there is a long way to go before India establishes credibility among global investors as a nation of producers and innovators. As the pressure on the government to deliver on the already established brand of 'Make In India' increases, one can't go without wondering the role of media in the scheme of things.

Make In India week has given media, especially Indian media, enough fodder to make several headlines. From broadcasters allotting dedicated programming on the topic, to publications releasing special editions on the same; it seems media has had a field day since the 'week' was launched. And rightly so, thinks popular CNN news anchor Fareed Rafiq Zakaria of the Fareed Zakaria GPS fame.

“I think that if there are more efforts like this, it does help the media play a more substantial role. What the Indian government is realising is that they have a serious image and brand problem. I have noticed that in Indonesia; the finance minister and trade ministers are much more attentive towards the communication of their reform policies than their Indian counterparts,” Zakaria shares while attending the CNN - Asia Business Forum 2016, which was part of the day two activities at Make In India week in Mumbai.

He later had a one-on-one with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to expand on the government’s executive strategy when it comes to reforms aimed at manufacturing.

“But that is changing now,” Zakaria says adding on the significance of media in propagating the government's brand building campaign for Make In India. “People are realising they have to sell, and to sell they need to build credibility for which presentation is essential and that is where Indian media will play a role.”

On the flip side however, one has to ask if Make In India is a marketing effort or a reform effort? Even if there is a marketing element to it, the next question is if it will only scratch the surface with the campaigns, or will Make In India really address the issues that are at the grass root of manufacturing in India? Wherein comes the crucial role of media in connecting the two realities instead of being swept away by the hype.

Expressing his take on it Zakaria adds, “The problem with manufacturing is that you have significant regulatory, tax and infrastructure problems. Those are the reason that you don’t get manufacturing booming in India. Now, could that change? Yes, but I haven’t seen the big bang reforms. I have noticed some good improvement reforms that the government is undertaking but it still needs that big push. For that the Indian media has to step in and be the mouthpiece of the people who are part of the manufacturing industry. They have to keep putting pressure on the government to see the deliverance of such reforms.”

Expanding on the role of media in making Make In India successful, Zakaria says, “India has a lot of natural constituencies for natural reforms. There are many who still want the old system because they get patronage from it like subsidies, employment for families. Those are the people you hear from… who you don't hear from are the unemployed youth, the under employed people in agriculture. We hear a lot from the voices of the past but we need to hear more from the country’s future.  Media can be the voice of the future for India's aspirations and hopes. They should hold the government’s feet to the fire and keep them there. Right now, frankly the government isn’t facing a serious opposition so the media has to play that role,” Zakaria signs off.

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