In the eight years since the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched, the thoughts, words and actions of millions of Indians have pivoted to cleaning and hygiene, like never before. Those Indians who actually clean our homes, offices and cities have been recognised and feted, and their contributions acknowledged…and yet, the story is incomplete.
What about those Indians who produce the equipment with which cleaning is done? Where does the cleaning equipment that India uses come from? As the country inches towards self-reliance in all spheres, is it also self-reliant when it comes to cleaning equipment?
No. India still imports critical components of cleaning machines and tools, and even entire machines. Some are of superior quality, some inferior; some affordable, some not. Few perhaps can meet the unique requirements of durability, availability, affordability and consistent performance that an India-made machine can meet.
Why then have 100% Indian machines not flooded the Indian market?
The lack of technical support, local vendors, viability gap funding and engineering infrastructure for this critical but hitherto unrecognised segment of the larger Indian manufacturing industry must end. India is building itself at breakneck speed and its Smart Cities are calling for cleaning solutions; now is the time for homegrown solutions to clean our homeland.
This story has three parts.
In the first, we will understand the difficulties that Indian manufacturers faced, and continue to face in producing 100% indigenous cleaning equipment.
The second is from their clients’ – that is, the service providers’ point of view. How do those who use cleaning equipment decide what to buy, based on whether the product was manufactured in India or abroad.
The story concludes with the accounts of those who make or sell machine components that are procured by the above two groups. By understanding their business model, the Indian cleaning industry can chart a better path for the years ahead.