The kind of situation which emerged due to the covid-19 pandemic provided the country’s leadership an opportunity to reshape the economic landscape; harness the untapped economic potential and become self-reliant. On May 12, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan’ that aims to provide assistance to farmers, migrant workers, etc. and also aims to revive the industrial sector. In light of this scheme, state governments also announced their own measures and policies to help revive the economic activities of their own regions. AatmaNirbhar is a big leap from just ‘Made in India’ to ‘Made by India’.
‘Made by India’ would mean that global companies in India do not make the product, but from scratch to finish will be locally made and delivered. Here, it’s the ‘One District, One Product (ODOP) initiative to achieve the objectives of AatmaNirbhar. ODOP was launched by the Central Government in 2018 to help all districts in the country reach their full potential, foster economic and socio-cultural growth, and create employment opportunities, especially in rural areas. It’s a shot in the arm of Jammu & Kashmir’s economy as 21 local products from 20 districts of the Union Territory (UT) have been selected under the initiative for export promotion.
Overall, 761 districts across various geographies of the country have been included in the ‘One District One product’ scheme to carry export promotion of 1096 products (Figures as on March 6, 2023).
Let’s have a look at its general advantages on the economic landscape of the country. The concept of ODOP has its base in Japan. Historically speaking, it was in 1979 that the Japanese business development concept called One Village One Product gained popularity and in India the initiative saw the light as ODOP.
On one hand, the concept is going to foster balanced regional development across all districts of the country. On the other hand, it will bring economic fortunes across sectors. It envisions accomplishing this by scaling manufacturing, supporting local businesses and finding potential foreign customers among others.
Precisely, the One District One Product scheme aims to turn every district in India into an export hub through promotion of the product in which the district specialises. At the end, it is going to be a big leap to achieve the objectives envisaged in ‘AtmaNirbhar Bharat’ vision.
ODOP is an appropriate platform to help to explore the potential of the country’s crafts, agriculture, and food products and can prove a solid step forward to dominate the global market if provided with the opportunity for systemic growth and recognition. In other words, ODOP provides the right support and business environment to the local economies at the district level. The scheme will go a long way to preserve and develop local crafts and traditional arts which form the country’s rich heritage.
Broadly speaking, advantages of the One District One Product initiative are:
- Benefit to innumerable micro-enterprises through access to information, better exposure to the market, and formalization.
- Enabling them to formalize, grow and become competitive in national and global space.
- Benefit of generating valuable skilled and semi-skilled jobs. The scheme envisages increased access to credit by existing micro food processing entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs in the Aspirational Districts.
- Better integration with organized markets, boosting the artisans and local vendors.
- Increased access to common services like sorting, grading, processing, packaging, storage, etc. will be an added advantage.
- The best part is that ODOP products are provided with support for infrastructure, branding and marketing. If there is support for branding & marketing at the regional or state level, the products that districts don't have as ODOP may also be considered.
- Besides these, the quality of traditional products will be increased as per international standards and the skills ofthe traditional artisans will also get enhanced. Once local products in a district get in demand, it will lessen the migration of locals for employment and income will be increased through this initiative.
- One more advantage is that the initiative will help to preserve and promote the country’s cultural diversity globally. However, it’s the peoples’ support to the initiative which will help to achieve the objectives envisaged under the scheme.
Remarkably, in the context of globalization, handicraft and other local sectors of economy will benefit greatly from such initiatives. These sectors face several challenges including the inability to access credit, high cost of institutional credit, lack of access to modern technology, inability to integrate with the supply chain, and compliance with the safety standards. Strengthening these aspects through ODOP will lead to a reduction in wastage, creation of job opportunities, and aid in achieving the Government’s objective of doubling farmers’ and local artisans’ income.
In the era of globalization where the whole world is virtually a single market, the ODOP initiative serves as a dependable channel to reap the benefits of the global markets. It paves the way for local products to reach to the national as well as international markets. While boosting the exports, the initiative becomes a rich source of earning foreign exchange for the country, fund its imports and help to strike balance of payments.
Meanwhile, ODOP is going to lend tremendous support to import substitution. Notably, the concept of import substitution started gathering momentum to boost domestic manufacturing in the wake of the current economic scenario. The government has already indicated to introduce an import substitution policy to ‘replace foreign imports’ with domestic production and help the country save foreign exchange.
Interestingly, the concept of import substitution policy in the context of J&K was debated some years back as fuel to ignite the economic engine to tap the potential. We cannot overlook this substitution in certain sectors like horticulture, floriculture and dairy. For example, our apple industry now stands seriously challenged by outside players.
Despite having huge potential in floriculture, this sector remains underutilized. Potential in dairy is enormous. We have failed to scale it up in an organized manner. To a large extent, failure of the cooperative sector in the state is responsible for spoiling the huge economic potential of sheep and dairy farming and even poultry farming in the region.
Precisely, pursuing import substitution at national level is not a bad idea and exploring the opportunities can go a long way in achieving economic self-reliance where demand and supply would be met within the borders of the country.
However, import substitution should not be at the cost of exports, which needs equal impetus. It is here that the challenge of striking a balance between imports and exports emerges for the government.
In other words pursuing Atma Nirbhar Bharat mission needs to be equally aligned to lay thrust upon exports, if desired results of self-reliance are to be achieved. In fact, giving more push to the exports will make the import substitution mission an easy accomplishing task with assured growth of the domestic industry.
The ODOP scheme will ensure export promotion and import substitution on the same page and pool the local economies at the national level to scale up the country’s economy to global level. It will, precisely, help to strike a balance on the import-export front.
It is worth mentioning that exports are a source to generate foreign exchange. It is this foreign exchange which is utilized to import essentials in terms of technology and machinery for domestic industry. This in turn lays the base for building a resilient domestic industrial set-up to achieve self-reliance or what we can say import substitution. In other words, it is the strong export policy which can go a long way to achieve the AtmaNirbhar mission.
(Author is a freelance writer. The views expressed are authors own)