• ‘Emerging Kerala’ has just concluded. I attended the meet as a delegate. A number of projects were announced. Many feel positive. Some remain skeptical. Quoting the experience of earlier GIM (Global Investor’s Meet) and the failed opportunities, they ask ‘Other than the mere filling up of potholes over the roads and planting of a few shrubs along the roadway, would something really happen this time? ’. But, I’m more than hopeful.• This time, the winds are in our favor. The political and investment climate is fairly conducive. It’s true that we didn’t gain much from the GIM, way back in 2003. The Metro Rail Project, which has started rolling only now, was included therein. We even talked of the Express Highway. But amidst all that talk of dividing the State into two halves, that opportunity was also lost. We still rue the lost chances. I recall that Sri. A.K.Antony was at the helm, in our State, while the NDA Government, led by Sri. A.B.Vajpayee, governed at the Centre. Later, Sri. V.S.Achutanandan led the State government. But by then, the UPA had come into power at the Centre. After several years, we have a favorable situation where the same political party rules both at the Centre and at the State. That might help and if something happens, it should be now.
• Being a keen observer, I feel that there is a reversal of trends as regards investment within the State. Perhaps fuelled by the economic meltdown and the short economic cycles that have gripped the world, Non Resident Keralites are increasingly looking at Kerala as an investment destination. It’s a far cry from the past when investment flowed out of Kerala. More and more youngsters, particularly in the IT domain, are increasingly returning to Kerala to work and settle here whereas there was a huge outflow to IT hubs like Bangalore, earlier. These are factors that we should harness.• Recently I read with interest, the words of Sri. Amitabh Kant, CEO & MD of Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation. To quote his words, ‘The use of technology and growth in manufacturing is imperative for the growth of India’. Growth is largely due to industrialization and urbanization; I couldn’t agree more. We did reap the benefits of the ‘Green revolution’. It was indeed relevant, then. But, as other nations steal a march over us, we can’t continue to depend on agriculture alone.
• A few days spent in China last year, opened my eyes to the infinite possibilities that infrastructure development throws open. You might have read of my experience in my earlier blogs (China shining, India….? dated 11.11.2011 & Infrastructure - The Key to economic growth dated 25.11.2011 ). Incidentally, I also recall here, the statement of Sri. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, on utilization of paddy fields for purposes other than agriculture. The statement drew much flak. And for a moment, I thought of countless paddy fields lying uncultivated and forlorn, on either sides of the road that I travel. Of course, we should preserve the environment. But, can’t we strike a balance ?• As an entrepreneur, hailing from Kerala, I’m convinced that ours is a land of infinite possibilities. But, we never attempted to assess our strengths and weaknesses. IT, tourism and health are all avenues that hold immense potential. Strong political will, transparent bureaucracy and a change in the perception of our people hold the key. ‘Emerging Kerala’ is a step in the right direction and with concerted effort, the blue bird, it’s mascot, would indeed flutter it’s wings and fly.
Thanks For ReadingEMERGING KERALA Kochouseph Chittilappilly