Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Emerging Kerala - critical perspective

By D.Dhanuraj

India’s performance in London Olympics resulted in high TRP rates for Non-Crickers in the recent times. Many argued that India’s medal tally will be doubled and the country will be reckoned as a sporting power by next Olympics.  While analyzing the medals tally and toppers performance in the Olympics, one can easily figure out that each country has competed based on their strength and won the maximum number of medals in their strongholds. Many suggest that India should also focus on in the items like Boxing, Wrestling, Shooting etc to increase their tally in the coming games. Who knows what our Sports mandarians think about these strategies? Same is the case with ‘Emerging Kerala’ event organized by Kerala Government. By having this event, the Kerala Government wishes to present God’s own country as the most investment friendly State. Though I like the concept and intention behind the event, I have doubts about its outcomes and roadmap designed.

The weakest link of Kerala State has been the dwindling land space. Unfortunately, almost all the discussions and projects in Emerging Kerala over emphasizes the availability of land. The State has a very discouraging past where development works involving national highways, bypass roads and new railway lanes are either grounded or litigated for many decades. One of the major reasons cited is the lack of available land. If it is true, I must confess that the projections in the Emerging Kerala raise so many questions regarding the winnability factors for influencing investor’s mindset. At the same time, pace of infrastructure development is important for investors and entrepreneurs to get attracted to a new destination for the investment and this event happens in the background of poor roads and connectivity to the different parts of the State. It lacks improvement in facilities and in that case the investments will be confined to three or four cities of Kerala ultimately leading to the poor urbanization outcomes.

Many a times, I wonder what is the vision statement for Emerging Kerala (not at the event level) but for the future generations to visualize and implement. How many employment opportunities are we planning to generate through the proposed investments?  I could not find the linkages between the human resources available and the projects proposed. I felt most of them are into construction of buildings including those under Tourism. It is a State without a proper urban policy statement which can hit the prospects of investment in the State. My fear is that hype around the land transaction can make it worse for the middle class as it may lead to the rise in the real estate prices.  This in fact raises the questions regarding the events such as Emerging Kerala for a tiny State like ours. Many studies have shown that the conversion rates of the accepted proposals in the similar events conducted by other States of India are not so praiseworthy.
The Government should have avoided the controversy around Emerging Kerala. It can raise doubts about the Government policies and commitments in the minds of investors. We should have conducted a Non Resident Malayali summit before Emerging Kerala. More than 50000 Crores of money deposited by them should have utilized for building basic infrastructure and to build the confidence amongst other investors in such an event like Emerging Kerala.  Agreements should include the clauses like the timeline for the completion of the projects in a real time basis. Emerging Kerala projects the single window system for the investors. I would rather argue for 24 X 7 single window system that would be more beneficial and impactful compared to these stop gap arrangements during such an event.

I strongly wish that my thoughts are aberrations and the State Government has already looked into these aspects. If that is the case, I wish all the best for Emerging Kerala.


snigdha G said...
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indhu M said...
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