The KOVID-19 infection has turned the world upside down. The global trade has shrunk to a comatose stage and letting the world community lose trillions of dollars. Lakhs of people have died world over, and millions have lost their jobs, as fear and hopelessness has gripped the human civilization. Governments across the world have rolled out stimulus packages to keep the economy alive and let people have hope for the future. The Modi government has also rolled out stimulus for industries, declared a relief package, cut bank rate, and postponed recovery of bank loans etc. When chaos and frustration continue to reign supreme in the world, the Modi government has come out with the Swadeshi Economic model to lay the foundation of the Atmanirbhar Bharat.
The Swadeshi model does not aim to close the domestic market to the global trade, but it would explore the country's true potential to make the country self-sufficient in every field. No wealthy nation would like the Swadeshi idea because they thrive on India's 132 crore consumers. The economic thinking is changing fast, as 90% of the countries have closed their borders and opened trade with like-minded countries with similar regulations. Prime Minister, Narendra Modi in his address to the nation said, "a self-reliant India, does not mean India to be in isolation." India is ready to open its door to new skills, knowledge, experience, and new technologies if it helps India's growth.
While tapping the economic advantage from global trade, India can build its capacity to market local products in domestic as well as in foreign markets. Inspired by the RSS' Sarsanghchalak, Shri Mohan Bhagwat's speech on Swadeshi, the volunteers of RSS and its affiliate organizations have already campaigned to form district-level committees across the country to promote awareness about the indigenous goods and services. The Swadeshi ideologue, Dattopant Bapurao Thengadi had named his new India specific economic model "Third Way" which aims to make India self-reliant. Thengadi's model for sustainable growth creates hopes among countries that have so far failed to promote their domestic industries.
The new economic model "Third Way" will become a reality if 132 crore people change their way of life to create demand for biodegradable Indian handicraft products. Government offices, households and educational institutions should buy utility items like doormats, curtains, table cloths, bed covers, pillow covers, file covers, flower vase, pend stand, furniture, clay utensils, wooden plates, and other bio-degradable utility items directly from the Indian artisans.
India is a treasure trove of biodegradable utility items. If Indians start loving their products, it will give employment to millions of people in the unorganized sector. While creating awareness about the indigenous products, the volunteers can prepare the list of products available in each Indian district. Once Indians learn to love and use their products, they will not buy sleek foreign products that are not safe in comparison to bio-degradable Indian products. Indians can happily replace plastic and synthetic bags with jute, coir, and cloth bags which can boost jute cultivation and coconut cultivation. Many domestic industries will thrive when people use jute, coir, and cloth bags.
Indian silk clothes, handicrafts, jewellery items, carpets, potteries, steel, furniture, cotton fabrics, metal craft, paintings, and carvings on various surfaces had made India immensely rich through the centuries. India's share in the world economy was 25% until 1700 AD. India still has nearly five million artisans who have the skill and imagination to create bewitching artistry on any surface. What they need now is not money alone but due recognition from the society. The volunteers of the Sangh Parivar can prepare fresh district wise artisans and weavers' profiles which will protect the priceless art traditions. Preparation of artisan weaver profile again is a tough job that will require a long and enduring effort of the volunteers.
It is the weavers and the artisans who have added high value to their products. Those little known people brought gold to India in exchange for their exotic products. Greek official chronicler, Pliny in the 1st century AD, noted the Indian traders are taking away their gold in exchange for their handicrafts. Even today, those gifted weavers and artisans still survive in villages, in narrow lanes and by-lanes of cities and small towns. Their nimble fingers continue to create bewitching artistry which can still add high value to products. A 26 square feet 'Patta Chitra' of Odisha made by a genuine painter can fetch Rs 12 to Rs 20 lakh in international craft bazaar. But, a patta painting is trash if a mediocre artist makes it. To fetch a high amount the artisans have to paint with utmost devotion, use natural colours and bring the bhava(expression) in the human and animal figures. Nazim Bano of Lucknow got a national award for chikankari art. The artisan narrated the glory of chikankari art, which was made by combining more than 60 types of fine stitching patterns. If India can encourage genuine artisans and recognize their contribution, the rich Indian art tradition will survive to make India rich again. This is the area where China can't beat India with its cheap factory-made clothes and handicrafts. The Paithani weavers of Maharashtra, the Sonepur weavers of Odisha and the putapakka weavers of Telangana can add high value to silk and cotton clothes. There are millions of skilled handloom weavers in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Kashmir who can add high value to their products. The volunteers will understand the art form and the actual need of those artists.
India has thousands of water bodies which can be preserved to boost the productivity of agriculture, animal husbandry and fishery sectors. The Asian Development Bank has forecast that by 2030, India will have a 50 per cent water deficit. Healthy water bodies will play an essential role in the success of the Swadeshi Development Model. There are many villages where people produce only one crop. If water bodies are revived, they can go for two crops which will achieve food sufficiency for the country.
There are hundreds of pilgrims and tourist places in the country. The natural environment around those places is a real attraction for tourists. Efforts should be made to make those places look as natural as possible. Those places should have very little concrete and more of biodegradable material so that it would be in sync with nature.
For centuries Indians have known how to make thousands of mouthwatering dishes. Every district has some special dish which can be popularized. To make the Swadeshi model vibrant, the Indians have to include more Indian dishes on their daily menu. Hotels, restaurants and the railway should specialize in serving local food to customers. Swadeshi Model should be taught in schools also so that the children would grow up to love Indian products.
(The author is a is a Hyderabad based columnist)