Recently the chip maker we had bought years ago on a visit to the UK finally packed up.
The chip maker is like those carousels used in slide projectors, a circular rack into which you put sliced potatoes and roast them in a micro to get crunchy crisps which are totally fat free.
A simple device but a very useful addition to the kitchen. We’d bought it in London for the equivalent of Rs 200. We went to our local market to buy one. The shopkeepers had never heard of such a thing much less have one to sell.
An online search revealed that India didn’t make any chip makers of the kind we wanted, and the cheapest imported one would cost us Rs 1,300 with a three-week delivery time.
This made me think about the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. We’ve been hugely successful in making many things. India has emerged as the biggest producer of Covid vaccines, which it is supplying to several countries.
We make space rockets and have launched satellites to the moon and beyond. We are a full-fledged nuclear power. But our achievements in all these fields are in sharp contrast to simple, everyday things which we can’t, or don’t, produce. Like a chip maker.
Of course, a chip maker is a niche product, a triviality, when compared with a vaccine against a dread disease, or a space rocket.
But the imported chip maker is only a token of the many things we don’t make. India boasts one of the biggest cellphone markets in the world, but we import billions of US dollars’ worth of components which make up these devices.
Not long ago, India was an exporter of garments. Today we have surrendered that position to countries like Bangladesh, whom some of us look down upon as a source only of illegal migrants without realising that not a few of the contents of our wardrobes originate in that nation.
The government plans to make India a five trillion-dollar economy in the next few years. That’s making it big. But in order to make it big it’s also sometimes necessary to make it small. Chip maker small?
This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.
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