In 71 years of independence, India has moved up quite a few rungs in the ladder of industrial expertise and competence. We are competent enough even to put a satellite in space and ensure that it remains where we want it to and as long as we want it to. Thousands of manufactured items that had to be imported from elsewhere as long as we were under British rule are now made in India. What India can manufacture now in no longer a matter of ability but rather one of attitude. There are reasons to believe that our manufacturers have not yet managed to acquire the right attitude to their responsibility to consumers about the quality of goods that they put in their hands. They seem to have different perceptions about the quality of what they have to manufacture for export to other countries and what they are going to sell to fellow Indians. Out of the lakhs of items that our manufacturers make for their own countrymen, we have decided to concentrate our attention to just four items of everyday use. Every Indian has had to cope with electrical plugs that are a total mismatch for the sockets. All electrical appliances now have plugs with thin pins that are too loose for the sockets. Why cannot our manufacturers have sockets that match the plugs? Why must we have sparking going on while any electrical equipment is being used? Then we have dot pens and refills that always leak. Why can we not have leak-proof dot pens like the rest of the world? We are obliged to buy water taps that invariably leak within weeks of their installation. Finally, there is the humble nail clipper. Why can India not manufacture an efficient nail clipper if it can make virtually every component of a spacecraft? These will remain riddles for most people.
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