The BJP manifesto, Sankalp Patra, promises to be "responsive to the needs of the aspirational middle class" and states that the party "will make all efforts to ensure that our aspirational middle class has access to education, employment opportunities and suitable urban infrastructure for a better quality life."
But where will the employment opportunities come from?
The manifesto mentions 'employment' a dozen times -- a reading of these passages underline the party's thinking on the job-creating sectors. Infrastructure is one of them, and this seems like a doable idea given the current government's track record in road and logistics development. The manifesto says, "We will aim at next-generation infrastructure which will include gas grids and water grids, i-ways, regional airports and wayside amenities along national highways. We will continue the fast pace with more and more public and private investment and efficient ground level management on the building of infrastructure further and to improve the quality of life and enhance the ease of living. In addition to ensuring efficiency in the economy, this will also lead to the creation of a large number of jobs and livelihood opportunities".
The logistics industry has seen many policy changes over the past couple of years and efficiency in this sector is a precursor to success in manufacturing - Make in India has been a struggle for the NDA government.
What in Make in India could work over the next five years?
Interestingly, the BJP manifesto calls out defence, a sector where the private players struggle for large orders. A cursory glance at the major projects awarded over the past five years reveals two things: One, the chunkier orders have been bagged by foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs); and two, among Indian vendors, public sector units have bagged most of the projects. It has largely been a famine situation for the domestic private sector, and not the feast they expected when the NDA government came to power in 2014. During the last three years and the current year (up to October 2018), 121 contracts have been signed with Indian vendors worth about Rs 73,918 crore; the multinationals bagged contracts of more than double this amount. About 67 contracts were signed with foreign vendors worth about Rs 1,65,590 crore, data shared in the Lok Sabha states.
The manifesto, nevertheless, promises self-reliance in defence, yet again.
"In order to ensure self-reliance in the procurement of defence equipment, we have taken several effective steps in the last five years. For instance, the most modern AK-203 automatic rifles are being manufactured at Amethi under our 'Make in India in Defence' initiative. We are committed to focus on 'Make in India in Defence' to enable indigenous production of defence equipment. This will also generate employment and encourage investment in the defence sector," the manifesto says.
Apart from this, the BJP document mentions investments in clusters, which can go a long way in making the smaller manufacturers competitive. "We will invest in creating clusters/networks that can take on the world's best," the manifesto states. "Public procurement and government incentives will be used actively to build up these clusters and encourage job creation."
Expectedly, there is a lot of focus on start-ups - perhaps the only sector, apart from infrastructure and logistics, which is creating jobs today. BJP says it would set-up a new 'Entrepreneurial Northeast' scheme to provide financial support to the micro, small and medium industries. It would also launch a new scheme to provide collateral-free credit up to Rs 50 lakh for entrepreneurs. "We will guarantee 50 per cent of the loan amount for female entrepreneurs and 25 per cent of the loan amount for male entrepreneurs," the manifesto says. "We will continue to promote and encourage start-ups through the creation of a 'Seed Startup Fund' of Rs 20,000 crore."