“This call for self-reliance is very different from the isolationist and protectionist self-reliance movements across the world. Self-reliance in the PM’s vision for India is neither exclusionary nor isolationist. There is a specific talk of improving efficiency, competing with the world as well as helping the world,” an official source explained.
The distinction is important because the swadeshi school of thought, which still has strong adherents in the Sangh Parivar, has often turned into a fear of the “foreign” and economic isolationism.
Sources said the diffidence in engaging with the world and suspicions of the outside world cost the country and repeating the folly would set the country back again.
“On the contrary, this is a call to prepare the people to face the world on our own terms and reflects the belief in the ability of people to get the better of the competition by summoning national resolve, mobilising resources and improving the country’s skill set. There is no talk of isolation, but of integration and the attention is not on tariff but on transformation,” the source said.
The focus differentiates India’s package from “packages” announced by other governments in that it is not limited to just “firefighting” but also aims to “fireproof” the country against future shocks.
“There is no talk of only a financial package but of a reforms stimulus and mindset transformation,” the source said, pointing to PM’s exhortation to people to turn “local” products into global brands.
They also emphasised that the package, to be unpacked starting Wednesday, didn’t follow the “trickle down” approach and was aimed at empowering people. The PM’s reference to migrant workers and small retailers and hawkers has already set off speculation that the “package” may come with specific provisions aimed at their welfare.