By Zia Darakshan
When we walk into a market, we are often surrounded by foreign brands. From essentials like diapers and shampoo to clothing and household products, everything seems to be dominated by international brands. This scenario prompts important questions: What have we been doing? Why don’t we have more of our own brands? Even if we do have them, why do we prefer to buy global brands over homegrown ones?
This vast gap between domestic and international brand presence provides an opportunity for us to foster self-reliance. In the given global scenario, the time is ripe to develop our own brands, thereby reducing our dependence on foreign products. The covid-19 induced economic crisis has taught us how important it is to be economically self-reliant after the global economic supply chain was massively disrupted for months together.
So, it is imperative to break free from our inclination to choose foreign products over local ones and instill a sense of pride in our own brands. Creating homegrown alternatives to international brands can transform our economic environment reduce trade imbalances, and stimulate job creation within our country.
Promoting the purchase of indigenous products over foreign products in India can be achieved through a multi-faceted approach involving education, incentives, quality assurance, awareness campaigns, Local Brand Promotion, Online Marketplaces like e commerce, Consumer Discounts, Consumer Education, Retailer Support, Sustainable Practices, Community Engagement, School Curriculum, Cultural Relevance etc.
It’s important to create a shift in the mindset of consumers and emphasize the broader benefits of buying indigenous products. These strategies can help create a more significant preference for Indian-made goods in the market.
We have seen numerous government initiatives in the last few years with an aim to boost local entrepreneurship, such as Make in India, Vocal for Local, Digital India, and Startup India.These initiatives aim to revive the industrial sector and assist farmers, migrant workers and others in need. In response, state governments have also announced their own measures to stimulate economic activity in their respective regions. For example ‘AatmaNirbhar’ represents a major shift towards ‘Made by India’ from the earlier ‘Made in India’ slogan.
As part of India’s push towards self-reliance, the government has launched the ‘One District, One Product’ initiative under the AatmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan. The initiative aims to boost local economic and socio-cultural growth, create employment opportunities, and promote the export of locally-made products. With 761 districts across the country included in the scheme, it is expected to carry export promotion of over 1000 products.
It is interesting to note that the desire for indigenous products is surging among Indian consumers, there’s a notable shift away from global brands. Around 60% of respondents in a KPMG survey, spanning various age groups, express a strong inclination to replace foreign brands with customized, made-in-India products. This trend indicates a growing preference for locally crafted brands, showcasing a shift in consumer behavior and a willingness to pay an extra price for homegrown quality.
The scenario in J&K reveals the number of startups is very less almost negligible despite the huge and bountiful resources the UT is gifted with.The primary reason behind this is that we are brought up with the job oriented mentality . All of us share the same dream ,the same goal of securing a Government job with a fallback plan to transition to the private sector if the initial pursuit proves unsuccessful. This rate race of acquiring hassle free jobs may inadvertently stifle our creative potential and hinder our productivity . Nobody prefers to become an entrepreneur. The handful who finally manage to become one and launch a startup face a lot of difficulties in their initial phase.
National scenario reveals that 90% of the startup companies get closed before they even start properly. The rest 10% have to struggle with getting funds and searching for angel investors. Now one can imagine the plight of a small place like J&K where there are hardly any angel investors. However, in the last couple of years we have noticed an upward trend in local entrepreneurship where our youth are coming up with brilliant ideas and many of them are doing quite well in their own spaces.
How to help indigenous products find their way in international market
The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir holds the keys to unlocking a world of opportunities. To do so, we must first inspire and inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship among our children from an early age. Rather than solely seeking government or private sector employment, we can empower our youth to create their own ventures. By nurturing and supporting homegrown entrepreneurs, we can transform our abundant resources into thriving markets.
Recently, Jammu & Kashmir’s economy received a boost through the ODOP initiative, as 21 local products from 20 districts of the Union Territory have been selected for export promotion. The ODOP initiative in India builds on this idea and aims to make products locally, from scratch to finish, instead of relying on global companies operating in India. This marks a significant shift towards the ‘Made by India’ approach. The scheme aims to achieve this by promoting local businesses and scaling up manufacturing, with a view to identifying potential foreign customers. Ultimately, the goal is to turn each district in India into an export hub, specializing in the product for which the district is known. It is here that J&K youth has to come forward and explore and get engaged in entrepreneurship .
In the picturesque landscapes of Kashmir, opportunities to cultivate indigenous brands abound, particularly in the realm of cosmetics and beyond. This region, renowned for its rich culture, heritage, and breathtaking natural beauty, is also blessed with an abundance of herbs and a diverse flora and fauna. Among these botanical treasures, Kashmir harbors a wealth of plants with medicinal qualities that have been cherished for their use in medical treatments, aromatherapy, and cosmetics. However, an unfortunate consequence of the high demand for these resources from countries such as Europe, China, and Japan has turned the region into a hotspot for smuggling activities.
Researchers have painstakingly documented 1,123 medicinal plants thriving in the fertile soils of Jammu and Kashmir. These plants possess untapped potential, yet it remains largely unexplored by the local population. The need of the hour is to initiate a transformation – one that harnesses our natural bounty to build a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Education and Awareness
Education is the cornerstone of this transformation. We must launch comprehensive awareness programs to acquaint our people, especially the younger generation, with the treasures that lie in their own backyard. Knowledge about the medicinal and aromatic properties of local flora, and their value in various industries, is essential. This awareness is the first step toward unlocking economic potential while safeguarding our ecological heritage.
Role of NGOs
In this endeavor, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can play a pivotal role. Rather than relying solely on sporadic fundraising efforts, they can channel their resources and energy into creating meaningful awareness campaigns. These organizations can extend their reach to educate children and collaborate with entrepreneurs to build a strong and sustainable network. By doing so, they can genuinely empower our youth and foster a culture of self-reliance.
Succinctly, J&K holds the potential for creating its own brands by leveraging natural resources wisely and pursuing a path of self-sufficiency. Initiatives must begin with education, awareness, and a collective commitment to preserve our natural wealth. By fostering a strong network of entrepreneurs, we empower our youth to seize opportunities at home, contribute to regional prosperity, and transform our natural treasures into a lasting source of wealth.
Meanwhile, while the allure of global demand is enticing, it’s essential that we strike a balance. We can no longer afford to let our precious resources be sold for meager sums. Instead, we must recognize the need to preserve them wisely, ensuring their sustainability for generations to come.
- Views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of Kashmir Observer
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