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Future Of Manufacturing In 2021 India has the potential to become the next global manufacturing hub

By Sanjay Bhatia

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Undisputedly 2020 has not been a favourable year for the economy, jobs and industry as the world dealt with the impact of COVID-19 on business and daily life. However, amid a lot of negativity and slowdown in the market there's reason to be optimistic, especially in manufacturing; in every crisis there is a hidden prospect to grow faster.

The last three decades of globalization has seen China becoming literally the "factory to the world'. The COVID-19 outbreak and the commotion in supply of finished goods for global markets, as well as raw materials for businesses and industries everywhere from China have led to an unforeseen move around.

Befittingly, that could mean advantage India, as the nation's industrial network, plenty of natural resources and comparatively cheap workforce could magnetize many manufacturers to turn to India as an alternative base. Post COVID-19, many economies are anticipated to implement de-risking approach and move their manufacturing bases from China, which could create opportunities for India.

India has the potential to become the next global manufacturing hub. Several industries have realized the drawbacks of being disproportionately dependent on manufacturing on a single country and are looking to expand the geographic spread of their facilities.

So economic uncertainty aside, the unique supply chain disruptions of the year have actually given a push to the manufacturers, as they revived the often-stagnant industry to move faster and become more resilient than ever before. Looking on the brighter side if there were a year to pin a positive future for the manufacturing industry and move it towards progress, it surely has been 2020.

In 2021 imports will be substituted with Make in India. Indian businessmen will step up and offer their products and services to global companies facing supply issues in China. Disrupted imports will facilitate Indian firms become self-reliant while exporters will further expand into markets that were earlier served by Chinese firms.

Furthermore, manufacturing business is undergoing paradigm shift and the industry is approaching the next wave of technology transformation. Businesses are revving up as an amalgamation of changes in technology and market conditions. Some of the biggest tech trends are awaited in 2021 and there's no doubt that the industry has to respond to them. Whether it is a small business or a big corporate, everyone has to make the most of it. New strategies, new approaches, new business structures, all of these would be the game-changers in this scenario.

But there are also a few challenges that our country is facing relating to infrastructure—physical and digital, skill gaps, innovation ecosystem, public-private partnership, support for MSMEs, data security and privacy, standards-based interoperability and a conducive regulatory framework. Collaborative efforts by central and state governments, industry, academia, research and financing institutions are the need of the hour to ensure leveraging of the digital manufacturing revolution and reaping benefits of enhanced competitiveness. This will also help India build sustainable breakthrough ecosystems for nurturing global businesses and achieving manufacturing-driven growth.

India has the prospective to become the digital factory of the world by being at the forefront of the digital revolution. But timely action is the key. The government is doing its bit by putting in place an enabling policy framework. The burden is also on the manufacturers to put their act together for adopting emerging digital technologies to boost their competitiveness.

To conclude in 2021, manufacturing will see a vital shift in how its front-runners view progressive change: from underlying vision to practical realism. As an outcome of the current slow-down an industry that's more agile and flexible will emerge. Industry will witness a shift to localized production, digital transformation will fast-track; and manufacturers will be equipped to churn out high-quality products quicker, more efficiently, and at a lower cost than ever before.

Sanjay Bhatia

Co-founder and CEO, Freightwalla

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