Remanufacturing: India in focus
Remanufacturing has an unquestionable role to play in bringing the vision of a circular and regenerative economy to life, especially in developing nations like India. This is why Rajiv Ramchandra founded Re:CREATe, a research and advocacy enterprise to catalyze and advance the remanufacturing industry in the nation.
Manufacturing lies at the heart of the many conveniences we take for granted in contemporary human life. Mobility, computing, communication, housing – the list is indeed long. Most of the physical things we interact with daily are produced by us, through manufacturing. If you peel the layers back, even these inventions ultimately come from nature, as do we. While industrial activity has formed the basis of human civilization in recent times, it has also been an unintentional instrument of harm characterized by climate change, waste generation, pollution (air, water, land), and natural resource exploitation. Every challenge however comes with a silver lining, with an opportunity to grow and evolve.
Nations including India are certainly not immune to the challenges associated with traditional manufacturing, as well the growth pains that come with the transformation to a sustainable, resource efficient and circular economy. Furthering the manufacturing industry has been a major focus of policy initiatives in India embodied by the ‘Make in India’ scheme . Figure 1 provides snapshot of how the Indian manufacturing economy has fared in comparison to a few of the world’s largest economies.
Figure 1: Manufacturing Value Added as a % of GDP.
Data Source: databank.worldbank.org
Recent announcements include the plan to launch a scheme to promote electronics manufacturing in India, specifically the manufacturing of mobile phones, electronic equipment and semiconductor packaging. However, evolving social expectations on the quality of life, a growing understanding of the human impacts of unfettered ‘growth’ and the innate desire to return to a state of harmony with the natural world are bringing to the forefront questions on how to chart a course towards the ideal of holistic and balanced development. Remanufacturing has an unquestionable role to play in this journey.
Presently, remanufacturing in India seems to be limited to a few sectors like heavy-duty off-road vehicle sector and printer cartridge remanufacturing. So nascent is its presence that many in the industrial community have never heard of it. This is where the recently established Recreate India Research Foundation (Re:CREATe) , a non-profit research and advocacy enterprise, seeks to catalyse and advance the remanufacturing industry in India.
Re:CREATe's vision is built on a foundation of national and global Collaboration. Resting on this foundation are the four pillars of Research, Education Advocacy, and Technology. The aspirations of these pillars are shown below:
As the world enters the 2020s, systemic transformation is afoot globally, and a new chapter is opening in the industrial economy of India as well. Inevitably, the structure of such an economy will be circular by design. This requires an intentional step out of the comfort zone of the linear economic thinking that has dominated the global manufacturing industry for decades. For a sustainable future to manifest in the nation a fundamental reframing of the ideas of ‘progress’ and reorientation of ‘development’ and ‘growth’ is needed. As author Salman Rushdie points out, “The only people who see the whole picture…are the ones who step out of the frame”.