Editor: Every year, we try to publish stories about India that make us feel good about India. It is our way of celebrating India’s Independence.
Society is a story of people and of broad trends. In Finance, it is called the micro and the macro. Today, we provide a feel-good story about both.
The Story of Bechan Kumar
Six years ago, Bechan Kumar was a child laborer in a sweat shop in Mumbai. With his colleagues, he was rescued by volunteers of Pratham and now stays in a Gyan-Shala run by Pratham in Bihar. Gyan-Shala (or schools for knowledge) are residential centers operated by Pratham
Bechan Kumar has been selected for the National Kabbadi Camp in the sub-junior class in
Gandhinagar, Gujarat. Bechan is the only boy in from Eastern India who has been selected for the camp. If he gets selected, he will play for India in international matches in his age group.
From a child laborer in a sweat shop to playing for India on the international stage! This is a great feel-good story. But behind this story, is the tale of hard work and dedication by volunteers who braved violence to rescue kids like Bechan Kumar and a tale of tireless dedication to education of Indian kids by organizations like Pratham.
Bechan’s story is a story of thousands in today’s India who aspire to reach the top even though they are at society’s rock bottom in money and class. Today, many of India’ athletes come from poorer homes and small towns to excel on their own.
The Bechan Kumar story makes us feel good about Indian Society and the story of Pratham’s dedication to education of children makes us proud of India.
The Story of Indian Manufacturing
We have all heard about the the success story of India’s software industry. Today when the World hears “Indian”, they visualize a technical expert, a software star. This is a welcome change for Indians worldwide. For that, we thank India’s software sector.
But when it comes to manufacturing, we think of China and South-East Asia. We now hear that China is trying hard to make the transition to from labor-intensive manufacturing to more sophisticated manufacturing. No one thinks of India when it comes to manufacturing.
That may be about to change and change radically. This is our feel-good macro story about India. And it comes from Vikas Bajaj of the New York Times and his terrific article titled Manufactured Goods Lead Surge in Indian Exports. Below are a couple of excerpts that tell the story:
- Indian exports of goods are now nearly double exports of services, growing 37.5 percent, to $245.9 billion, in the 12 months that ended in March. Leading the way are high-value products like industrial machinery, automobiles and car parts, and refined petroleum products.
- Indian exports are following a different path from that taken by other Asian countries like Japan, Korea and China…..India has largely skipped the first step and gone straight to producing capital-intensive items that require skilled workers but not necessarily many of them.
- Over the last decade, industrial export hubs have sprouted around India, some with the help of government planning. Here in Pune, about 100 miles east of Mumbai, a vibrant domestic automotive and engineering hub supplies the United States and other Western markets.Chennai in the south has become India’s Detroit, as car factories ship small Fords, Nissans and Hyundais to Europe, Africa and Latin America.
- “India has moved away from the textiles story,” said Rohini Malkani, an economist at Citigroup in India. “Now, it’s engineering goods and chemicals, including pharmaceuticals.”
Like all macro stories, this is a story of people. The article tells the tale of Ranjit Date who returned to India 20 years ago after his doctorate in Robotics from America. His company, Precision Automation and Robotics, India helps automate factory assembly lines.The company is building a second factory, a 150,000-square-foot plant on the outskirts of Pune, to keep up with demand for its robots and automated assembly lines.
Date’s company opened a small office in Detroit, MI, in 2003 and now supplies robots to Caterpillar, Ford and Chrysler. This year, in fact, a third of Precision Automation’s sales will come from exports, up from almost nothing five years ago.
We hope the above two stories make you feel good about India and help you celebrate India’s Independence Day tomorrow.
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