Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) said that India needs to double down its efforts in ramping up 15 key sectors to achieve the real objective of Atma Nirbhar Bharat. It said that India can also become self-reliant in sectors such as pharmaceutical intermediates, textile, electrical and non-electrical machinery in the coming few years.
The association said that the country must focus on import items other than petroleum and crude oil such as electronics, coal, iron-steel and non-ferrous metals and vegetable oils in the next 2-3 years.
ASSOCHAM Secretary General Deepak Sood said, "While we need to work on a long-term strategy to reduce our dependence on crude oil, in the short to medium term, we must move in a mission mode to be Atma Nirbhar in at least 15 of the critical sectors. We should work on a twin track of not only investing more to ramp up capacity, but also ensure that the end- consumers get the best of the quality products at internationally competitive prices. Self-reliance in the real sense would mean an aggressive production and pricing strategy involving scale and speed of execution."
It said that electronics is the largest non-oil import. Even during the partial lockdown, India imported electronic goods worth $2.8 billion in May. During normal times, these imports are near $5 billion a month, it stated.
Sood said that both domestic investments and FDI should be encouraged. He also said that MEITY's scheme that suggests production-linked incentives and encouraging champions can be a game-changer.
Other major items that India should focus on include fertilisers, wood and wood products, transport equipment, machine tools, textile yarn. "The country is capable of becoming self-reliant in all these sectors in the next few years," said ASSOCHAM.
It pointed out that even when industrial production was truncated and electricity demand was low in the month of May, India had to import coal, coke and briquettes worth $1.31 billion, which goes up to as much as $2-2.5 billion. "It is an ironic situation that we import so much coal when India has coal reserves, amongst the largest in the world," it added. ASSOCHAM said that allowing private sector in coal mining should help the situation.
ASSOCHAM also stated that iron and steel, non-ferrous imports account for $3 billion in imports that can be significantly reduced. Same is the case with chemicals, artificial resins and plastics that account for $3.5 billion of imports. Agriculture products, imports of vegetable oils, fruits and vegetables account for over $1 billion of imports that can be substantially reduced.