Dreams have to be reimagined

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 17 Jul 2017, 19:31:57
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Opinion

Dreams have to be reimagined

The talent existent in Dholairkhal has graduated from a joke to a serious prospect. Their ability to strip a car to the small bits in time that Formula 1 pit staff would be proud of, ensures ready-made efficiency to give car manufacturing a head start, writes Mahmudur Rahman
It was hilarious. An exasperated executive came out of a meeting fuming. 'What's all this about thinking out of the box? I was never in one to begin with!' The silence was reflective of individuals trying to absorb the significance, or not of the words. Before anyone could respond came the next salvo. 'As for picking the low-hanging fruit, don't they know most of those are rotten?' Needless to say the ensuing debate was lively and not too complimentary about senior management. That, of course is the way the cookie crumbles in a corporate life full of innuendos and cliches. All such expressions are obviously borrowed from moments of inspiration on the part of one person. Sadly most become cliches because they're either over-used or wrongly so. 

There's good cause for the over-use. Hamstrung and tied-down by processes, very few challenge the status-quo whether in the government or the corporate world; somewhat of a surprise considering the adjustments that are necessitated and so common in personal life. If ever innovative thinking was required to fix a fiscal mess that threatens to spiral out of control, it is now. Import bills are dwindling, specially in capital machinery, an indicator of productivity and demand. Export earnings are painfully slow and well short of forecasts. Ominously, remittances are slowing down in spite of an increase in manpower export. Bureaucratic tiddlywinks are being played to apply bandaid where major surgery is needed and a ready-made, knee-jerk reaction of denial isn't helping. So we are expected to believe the export slow-down is a temporary phenomenon, remittances dip is a process issue, capital flight isn't anything alarming, etc., etc. It smacks osf a total lack of foresight in accepting, adjusting to and preparing for the consequences of reality. 

Mere mortals are prone to error but unless we're holding on to the pathetic translation of the Bangla version 'manush matro bhul hoy' as 'man is mortal!' there's just no point in sitting on our hands. This is 2017 and while government measures have resulted in the biggest foreign reserves in our fairly short history, it cannot be left only to accumulate. We're on the wrong side of trade deficit in all our trading relationships, especially with our neighbours and though we have created policies that are supposedly 'investor friendly' the queue of investors isn't very long. Either someone's pulling the wool over our eyes or local businesses are ready to invest but don't trust banks and their processes. Local industries generate jobs, mostly don't get tax-holidays and need just refining their governance.

The idea of a Tk 5,00,000 car manufactured or assembled locally sparks the imagination. The years of ignoring the prospect of  and building on, Pragati Industries for car manufacture must go down as a tragedy that didn't need to happen. Tata's Nano car has created a revolution of its own in India. We might not achieve that but cutting the import bill of unbridled car imports with all of the nicks and cuts of over-and under-invoicing, local manufacturing has massive possibilities. The talent existent in Dholairkhal has graduated from a joke to a serious prospect. Their ability to strip a car to the small bits in time that Formula 1 pit staff would be proud of, ensures ready-made efficiency to give car manufacturing a head start. Tied up with vocational skills from the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) TVET programme ensures steady supply of labour and the fix-it staff. We now also have better skills o jump-start the Nikkon brand air-conditioners that began so well and was left to rot in the maze of dubious policy decisions that benefitted a few at the cost of many.

India spent decades in building its manufacturing muscles and while it still hasn't developed a world brand, the brands are coming to them, to be manufactured locally. 

mahmudrahman@gmail.com



 
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