We are in the best of times, we are in the worst of times. We are making in India, and also breaking in India. In ways that are not often obvious, we are being told how to be patriotic, or worse, nationalistic. The latest of these is the idea of levying Goods and Services Tax – a single nationwide tax replacing all state and Central taxes that came into effect on July 1 – on musical instruments that are not indigenous.
Idiosyncratically enough, this 28% rate is applicable on instruments that are not handmade and not Indian – including, for instance, the violin, which is widely used in Indian classical and film music. It has not been included on a list of 134 instruments that are considered Indian and hence exempt from the Goods and Services Tax. Nearly 60% of that list, though, consists of instruments that have not been played for the past two centuries, making this exemption a bit eccentric.
At the root of this categorisation, though, is a basic problem: music itself has taken multicultural influences over the centuries and differentiating between the purely Indian and purely Western would probably necessitate the formation of an expert panel of historians and musicologists. Despite the GST rules, Indian music is played on a variety of instruments with their origins in the West: the guitar, the saxophone, the mandolin, the violin and, of course, the piano, which is my instrument of choice.
Imagine the situation Padmavathi S, a Carnatic violin teacher in Chennai, finds herself in. Her violin is going to cost 28% more, despite her protestations that the music she is making is unquestionably Indian. A basic violin of reasonable quality was priced at upwards of Rs 2,500, before the new levy but will now cost Rs 3,200 and more. She did not take kindly to my suggestion that she might consider shifting to the “sangu” (Indian conch shell) or maybe even the “algozha (double flute)”.
While the affluent customer is unlikely to baulk at this because of his or her love for the instrument, the majority of the violin’s customer base belongs to the Great Indian middle class, especially in South India.
For those planning to buy more expensive instruments such as the piano, the import duty and the Goods and Services Tax put together make it absolutely prohibitive to even consider buying one. Pianists should immediately consider alternative careers in stand-up comedy (in Tamil or in Hindi, naturally, because English plays attract Goods and Services Tax whereas Indian language plays do not).
In commodifying instruments based on their place of origin, we have now introduced a rather young elephant into an already crowded room. Play an Indian instrument, and play Indian music. If you make the unforgivable mistake of playing jazz or Western classical music, semi-classical or film or any genre that is not purely homegrown as decided by the powers that be, pay the price.
The effects will be felt in a variety of situations. Musical instrument retailers to whom I spoke forecast a decline in sales between 12% and 20% year-on-year. They also fear the impact on music education. Students are worried about taking up keyboard or violin lessons as most teachers expect them to buy their own instruments, which have now become unaffordable to many. The decline in enrolment for music classes this academic year was pegged at 15% among teachers to whom I spoke. This means that we are losing out on considerable instrumental talent in our country.
Unfortunately for most of us, music continues to be a passion. Apart from those who derive their livelihoods from it, it is an important aspect of human endeavour, and one of the most vibrant aspects of being alive. As a pianist, I might have to start a campaign to claim the South Asian origins of my beloved instrument of choice. The alternative, it seems, would be to shift to playing the conch.
Anil Srinivasan is a pianist who lives in Chennai.
The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes
Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.
The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.
This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.
Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.
The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.
Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.
Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry
The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.
There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.
The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.
The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.
The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.
The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.
Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.
Case studies for technology-led changes
An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.
Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.
In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.
In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.
The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.
Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.
The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.
This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.