new horizons

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 12 Apr 2018 11:53:04


PRIME Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s stress on public sector enterprises (PSEs) changing gears and establishing themselves as the “New India Ratna” is quite in tune with his thrust on India becoming the manufacturing hub of the world. Just as his Government’s policies have been veered round to the ‘Make in India’ mission for vital role to the private sector for achieving self-sufficiency in various sectors of human activity, Mr. Modi has also been conscious of the pivotal role the public sector has played. And when he says that public sector undertakings (PSUs) should transcend beyond the accolade of Navratna and be the vehicle of creating “ New India Ratna” he simultaneously acknowledges the excellence that some of the premier PSUs have achieved in their respective fields of activity.

But the Prime Minister does not want the public sector undertakings to rest on their past laurels. He wants them to step out of their narrow confines of being Government enterprises and emerge as premier corporate entities. He wants them to earn profits on their activity but at the same he wants them not to forget their commitment to social cause. Private sector is driven by profit motive and even profiteering. But such is not the case with public sector undertakings. They must earn profit and generate surplus of capital for their future expansion plans and meeting exigencies during their complex operations. But they should not lose sight of their commitment to social cause.

Public sector was created at a time when the private sector was yet to find its feet in the post-Independence era and had very little risk-taking appetite and required financial muscle to undertake major investment decisions in areas like coal mining, steel production, railways, irrigation, shipping etc. It was therefore necessary for the Government to take upon itself the responsibility to create the necessary infrastructure for laying down the foundation for industry. But the rulers also realised that it was impossible to meet the needs of a vast country through the public sector alone and hence the field was opened to the private sector. Ever since the private sector has grown by leaps and bounds and has contributed much to the rise of India as one of the fastest growing economies of the world, While the private sector has come to occupy a major place in the country’s economic development, the Government has continued to support the public sector as it acknowledges the vital role it has played in the country’s development and building infrastructure. And now the Prime Minister wants the public sector to expand its horizon and march beyond the Navratna accolade and explore its own potential as well as that of the country as new vistas open out under the ‘Make in India’ mission. There is equal opportunity for the public and private sector to grow and there is no question of any ideological conflict.

For example since the present Government is laying much stress on self-sufficiency in defence manufacturing there is an equal opportunity for the public and private sector to join in that mission. Even joint ventures between existing defence manufacturing units in the public sector and the private sector are encouraged. Defence manufacturing offers a huge opportunity to explore such possibilities. For this the Government too needs to be more liberal in allowing PSUs in decision-making and making their choices. That is an impediment that is waiting for long to be removed. The Prime Minister himself has stressed the need for operational freedom to the PSUs to unleash their potential. But results would not be forthcoming unless added thrust is laid on innovation and enterprise. PSUs need to come out of the blinkered mindset of being a government department.