The more inward looking campaign "Be Indian Buy Indian" aimed within India's boundary, hoping to connect an Indian consumer's decision-making to national sentiment. In contrast, these brand materials, not the first attempt to brand Indian industry, clearly point outward - the primary logo gives us a wild animal, an exotic, yet elegant view of India as a place where you can still find wild animals roaming, a place whose open space for investment is as wide as an open plain. The lion - wise, regal and ferocious- the king of the forest, is tamed and modernized by removing it from a natural landscape and imbued with bright primary colors or sleek patterned overlays depending upon need. Almost prowling forward, it declares "We are the future".
There is deep design touch that owes so much to a modernist faith in technology as a central feature. It is all about industrialization. While the Make in India brand covers 30 different sectors, it seems to be aiming for tech and heavy industry/capital goods and infrastructure - semi-conductors, space, shipping, military, although global pharma knows all too well that India also has major competency in drug development.
Yet the accompanying images connote a deep understanding of the economic past; the heavy machinery evokes (for me, as an American) what was once the American lifeblood. This is what technology once meant, depicted by Charles Sheeler in his Ford factory in Detroit. Sheeler's work defined a brave, new, modern world led by American ingenuity in the 20th century.
|Charles Sheeler, American, 1883-1965; Ford Plant, River Rouge, Criss-Crossed Conveyors, |
1927; gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Lane Collection
|If you look quickly, the PPP could be mistaken for a CCCP...|
No matter. Investors want to see the goods. But where are the people in this #MakeinIndia campaign? Was leaving them out intentional, a way to nullify the pesky issues concerning cultural differences, in work habits, institutional understanding, business practices? I suppose that is the point. The people that do exist in the story aren't the workers - the movers and shakers in the Indian economy- they are the global investors, those invited to participate in what is depicted as a new Industrial Revolution, happening in India. A call to arms, um - I mean to action.
And who are these anticipated investors? To what region of the world are these images directed? Their feel might be too Socialist, too "red" for an American audience. Perhaps the underlying strategy is, "...to revive not only the Silk Road, but all the ancient trade routes crisscrossing the huge Eurasian land mass of the former Soviet Union in all directions."* In that context, the campaign makes much sense. After all, Narendra Modi and Putin just had their 16th bilateral summit where their love-fest was sanctified in sixteen different agreements that should reinforce partnership across security, trade, commerce, science and technology, defense, and energy - key "Make in India" sectors. They also aim to strengthen their defense partnership and encourage joint manufacturing of defense products in India. This will eventually pave the way for India becoming a central player in the global defense market. An important lesson from the Cold War: Centralized industrial planning is, as a political endeavor, as much an effort toward military build-up as it is an economic strategy. The "Make in India" imagery, in all its historical and artistic associations, is paying homage to a key partner and investor in Russia as much as it hopes to inspire as to the inevitability of India as the global center of production. But it will also have the capacity to defend this position with a new military strength, allied with Russia. Who only knows what that would eventually mean, in particular with talk of a new Cold War between the US and Russia*?
*Vinay Shukla for Russia Insider. "Here's Why India is Vitally Interested in Good Russia Relations Sep 18, 2015. http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/64262/sovietnazieconom00temi.pdf
Sumit Kumar for The Diplomat. New Momentum for India-Russia Relations?: In a state visit, Indian PM Narendra Modi gives the relationship a boost. January 03, 2016. http://thediplomat.com/2016/01/new-momentum-for-india-russia-relations/
Andrej Krickovic and Yuval Weber. Why a new Cold War with Russia is inevitable. Brookings Institute blog: September 30, 2015. http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/order-from-chaos/posts/2015/09/30-new-cold-war-with-russia-krickovic-weber