Traditionally, exporters have been a pampered lot in India as the government incentivised dollar-earning businesses through tax breaks and interest subventions. Thus, many of them became competitive in the global market only because of the embedded subsidy from the government. The life of the party, however, was a perennially depreciating currency. That coupled with a low cost of labour aided our emergence as a software services exporter.
Till date, India remains an exception where services exports have consistently outrun manufacturing exports. The scope for employment creation is much bigger in local manufacturing and we seemed to have missed that bus entirely. One would surely want that to change going forward if we are to capitalise on the much vaunted demographic dividend.
The saving grace is that, in spite of numerous infrastructure hurdles, there are some Indian manufacturing companies that have emerged as a supplier of choice despite treading the beaten path. It is these very companies that have been covered in the third edition of The Power of I — Outlook Business’ special edition that highlights India’s islands of proficiency. These companies are of different size and scale but with a common distinguishing factor — a tremendous reputation for quality delivery.
These companies have built successful export businesses in diverse areas — from traditional segments such as textiles and leather to niche businesses such as furniture and dried flowers. The featured companies have also demonstrated their ability to withstand a tough demand situation in their key markets.
Many of them have introduced some sort of innovation either in the process or technology or simply improvised their products to keep themselves a cut above the rest in a highly competitive global market. So be it Orient Craft, which has created a mammoth garments business, or Ramesh Flowers, which has become a supplier of choice for dried flowers, they are the go-to companies for global retailers in their respective business segments.
It is critical that these manufacturing companies keep going from strength to strength. Now, more than ever, we need those dollars.