The State and Industrialisation, Trade Trouble in Electronics Manufacturing, Fed's Learnings from the SVB Failure, and Social Justice vs Caste Mobilisation.
I have been waiting to write to you about the WTF policies in recent past. Have you heard of ALMM in the Indian solar field. What really prompted me today is the latest news of reforms in ALMM.
They first make a stupid policy and try to implement it for the last 2 years. Pause its implementation (after its implementation for few months) because they realize their goof-up and now they are talking about reforming it in the wrong areas
ALMM stands for Approved List of Module Manufacturers. MNRE wants to control Solar modules usage in India is the new license raj!! MNRE wants to visit production facilities of all solar manufacturers and approve the products and production facilities to ensure use of good solar modules in Indian solar projects (Govt or Private) There are more than 90 module manufacturers in the ALMM and surprisingly this constitutes less than 5% of global solar manufacturers. MNRE expects to visit sola rmodule manufacturers in China and other countries, and approve their processes and products to allow them to sell in India. So, the best solar modules cannot be sold in India if they are not in ALMM.
Just 3 years back, Govt had introduced BIS certification to all modules sold in India and the industry complied. (after many delays in application processing) and then they introduced 40% duties on solar modules and 25% on Solar cells mainly aimed at Chinese mfgers. They pretty much wanted to remove chine players from India with these steps. But, when INdian suppliers still could not match Chinese prices of quantities, they introduced ALMM. Not one Chinese manufacturer is in the ALMM. The gold standard for module dependability (a mix of quality, insurance, and performance) is Bloomberg and not one non Indian manufacturer in the top 20 (2 in 20 are Indian) are in ALMM.
Indian mfgers have less than 50% capacity to cater to the Indian market and with high tariffs in the US for Chinese modules (Trump era policy) the Indian modules still find good markets in US. SO INdian solar adoption has stifled and end consumer suffers. Looking at this in action (writing was always on the wall) MNRE decided to relax ALMM compliance by 1 year.
This policy wavering makes it so difficult for long-term investors, Supply Chain planners, that there is no serious investment in module manufacturing in India. Hence the govt introduced PLI scheme. Guess who is getting these benefits... it is the Tatas, Reliance, Adani and rest of the big players.
My friends and I had a discussion on the essays of Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Manoj Kumar Jha. While Jha makes a rhetorical case for social justice that anyone can be swayed by, PBM's lament drives home the reality of how social justice played out on-ground, especially in UP and Bihar. He gives the example of bihar and UP precisely because that's where the on-ground pursuit of identity politics in 90s and 00s , as opposed to the rhetoric and aims, enervated those states in governance and law & order.
The plank of social justice doesn't hold strength anymore in the hindi heartland precisely due to the depredations of what SP and RJD did when in power. its already failed multiple times against BJP since 2017, in atleast 4 state elections. If the BSP-SP combine didn't work in the 2019 general elections, despite their complementary vote banks, it clearly shows BJP outwitted them at booth-level caste arithmetic. A Caravan article documented how Amit shah took care to have BC leaders heading committees at the lowest level. BJP built its own caste alliances of intermediate and dalit castes that didn't feel included by BSP, SP and RJD. And BJP didn't do that in the name of social justice; they simply got the mechanics right without making it look like they accomplished an agenda.
That caste groups wish to feel represented and heard in Indian politics isn't something that needs to be stressed as a goal to be achieved; its more of a basic requirement. Without that, parties can't expect to even be at the poker table, leave alone playing for the high stakes.
PBM gives the example of lifting material conditions of people through growth and actual good governance policies rather than just engage in the rhetoric of social justice. This is basically what parties did in Tamil Nadu and AP, maybe other states too. In 1950, Madras and Bihar were at the same levels of HDI. that Madras and TN zoomed ahead is because policies were delivered with social justice as a FOUNDATION and NOT as the end goal.
One can argue it should be the end goal but that could end up having on-ground repercussions unaccounted for in original intentions, especially in a thick society like India's. Once in power, it might result in specific castes exhibiting dominance at the village-level based on them being the core vote base of the ruling parties. This becomes violent when the party's local leaders, unlike BJP's, are not representative of local groups. So ends the legitimacy of social justice as a goal.
It is not as if UP doesn't display violent tendencies or the dominance of specific castes currently, like how the thakur youth got acquitted in the hathras case. But because BJP didn't come to power on the plank of social justice, it's got no legitimacy to lose on that front.