Mahindra Group Chairman, Anand Mahindra, is known for his nationalist outlook and ability to think out of the box. It seems that the top executives of Mahindra Group have also been endowed with similar skills, dedication and abilities.
You must have heard of Dr Pawan Goenka, former Managing Director of Mahindra & Mahindra. For the past 42 years, Goenka remained engaged in the auto industry- first with General Motors till 1993 and then with the Mahindra Group till April 2021. However, the former Managing Director of the Mahindra Group, Goenka has been involved in several initiatives to help achieve the ‘Make in India’ dream, often getting into sectors that don’t bear any relation to the auto industry.
How Goenka is quietly boosting Indian manufacturing
Goenka has been involved in the national-level effort to bolster local manufacturing, which started picking pace as soon the country was hit by the Coronavirus Pandemic last year and lockdowns were imposed.
For the past 1.5 years, Goenka has been actively involved in sectors like Air Conditioners that do not bear a close link to his area of expertise. Dr Goenka spends two days a week getting into such diverse sectors and recommending effective strategies and policy tweaks. Dr Goenka has helped the Indian businesses boost local manufacturing, cut import dependence and ramp up exports.
The revolutionary turnaround in the AC industry
Before the Pandemic started, India’s air conditioner market had no real plans to scale up manufacturing. 80 per cent of the AC parts were imported to fulfil the local demand. However, things are changing now.
Recently, major AC MNCs like Hitachi, Daikin and Panasonic, as well as local players like Voltas and Blue Star, have announced investments of about ₹5,000 crores to cut import dependence from 80 per cent to 20 per cent, while boosting local production.
The credit for this massive turnaround goes entirely to Goenka. Earlier, AC companies weren’t ready to invest in the Indian manufacturing sector because they felt that the country’s 25,000 crore AC market didn’t create an occasion for investment in larger manufacturing plans. This is when Dr Goenka came to the rescue.
The former Mahindra & Mahindra MD said, “An Indian player may not have technology for a compressor, so they are forced to import. An MNC has technology, but doesn’t want to make it in India, given the volumes.” So, a witty Goenka convinced the MNC to make more compressors in India and getting the domestic players to buy from them directly instead of importing.
Therefore, volumes increased which justified manufacturing AC parts in India for both domestic and foreign players. Ultimately, most big AC brands have started investing in local manufacturing because of the benefits of local manufacturing and Dr Goenka’s solution.
Dr Goenka’s role as SCALE Chairman
The former Mahindra & Mahindra MD got involved in an informal group that started working towards reducing import-dependence after the national lockdown was announced in 2020.
Understanding that the lockdown gave more time and space to the industry leaders, Piyush Goyal, the Union Commerce and Industry Minister had suggested that the CEOs put on their thinking hats and recommend policy tweaks to capitalise on the adverse global sentiment on China and prepare the Indian industry to strengthen manufacturing.
Ultimately, the informal group was made official by Goyal’s Ministry and named the Steering Committee for Local Value Addition, Manufacturing and Exports (SCALE). The group led by Goenka is now working with 17 sectors toys, textiles, furniture, e-cycles, drones, and fisheries.
Goenka’s space venture
Dr Goenka has recently taken up a new assignment- leading the Indian National Space Promotion Authorisation Centre (In-Space), the space sector regulator for private players.
The former Mahindra & Mahindra MD tweeted, “Thank you all for your congratulatory msgs. I am honoured and excited to be given this opportunity by GOI. Space is a new sector for me, but clearly a sector with tremendous potential for leveraging what our ISRO nd other Space scientists have accomplished. Lot for me to learn.”
Thank you all for your congratulatory msgs. I am honoured and excited to be given this opportunity by GOI. Space is a new sector for me, but clearly a sector with tremendous potential for leveraging what our ISRO nd other Space scientists have accomplished. Lot for me to learn. https://t.co/PLw9TQVlcQ
— Pawan K Goenka (@GoenkaPk) September 11, 2021
As the In-Space chairperson, Dr Goenka would be leading an effort to create a level playing field for private companies as well as startups in the space sector. For a person, who was engaged in the auto sector for 42 years of his life, to be awarded an assignment with the space sector suggests that the policymakers have a firm belief in his commitment and abilities to improve the industry situations with his sheer business skills?
Dr Goenka is thus turning out to be a polymath of sorts and he is helping India drive local manufacturing, one industry at a time.