Even as Kerala repeats its top ranking performance in education and health sectors, in the domain of industry it remains dumbfounded without even scoring pass marks. Not only is there a deficiency in infrastructure required to attract fresh entrepreneurs, there are also other factors that come into play like bureaucracy that frustrates even those coming to Kerala out of regard for the state, political muscle power and trade union bullying that hijacks the labout class.
As a result, our land has become a graveyard of many an entrepreneurial dream. However, now the Chief Minister and Industries Minister have declared before an investors' gathering that such a negative scenario is going to end. In the investment mobilisation campaign held in Dubai in the last few days, what the Chief Minister and his entourage have sworn is that Kerala is no longer the Kerala that it used to be. And after assuring that Kerala has become an industry-friendly state and the government is ready to provide all facilities and then at the end of marathon discussions with potential investors, the Chief Minister's delegation came back after winning commitments for investments running to billions of rupees.
Indian industrialists in the Gulf region and the government and quasi government institutions of that country have informed their interest to invest. Many of these are expressions of inerest and projects that were heard earlier too. Even then, the CM's tour appears to have succeeded in convincing investors and in winning their confidence. Dubai Port had even earlier informed their willingness to invest in Logistics area in Kochi. But this time they moved a step further to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Investments have also been announced in areas with potential in Kerala like food processing and health. That throws up also the challenge of taking these expressions of interest to practical reality. Precise blue prints of these projects are expected to be presented at the global invstors meet scheduled to be held in Kochi in December. If concerted follow-up and the government's diligent supervision accompany this drive, there may not be any more hurdles in execution of the projects. And the keen interest shown by CM does raise optimism.
The proposal for a non-residents' company under the aegis of the government for the common people among the NRI's has also engendered big hopes. There are no visible counter-campaigns or pessimistic glances against this from any quarters on this. What paved the way for this situation is the recognition by expatriate Malayalis that the revival of Kerala is an obligation of each one of us regardless of political differences , and the stand of political parties to stand by the people's aspirations in this regard.
In a way, investor-Kerala is a result of the rethinking kindled by the sacrifice of their lives by those like Sajan of Anthur. When yet another global investor meet is being convened, what comes to memory is the previous chief ministers' caution that it is a now-or-never situation and this is the last bus of development. And now it looks as though the bell is ringing again from that bus which has not yet started. At this time, there is something that the government cannot afford to forget, i.e. the basic principle that being enterpreneur-friendly and being capitalist-friendly are two different things. There is no voice of objection against making Kerala an industry- and entrepreneur-friendly land. But those interests should not be against the people's interests.
Nor should the policy of the government be one that forsakes the supremacy of the government. What will happen if this is forgotten, is amply evidenced by the change of colour of flags in the party offices in Bengal. The kind of consequences from investments that are merely capitalist-friendly, is all too clear to need explanation in post-flood Kerala. In the light of all such past experience, the government should demonstrate the enthusiasm as well as vigilance to pave the way to new possibilities. Going beyond a few grand announcements about development or signing of some MOU's, if the government is able to convince the people that they will go deep into the earth and that they will give momentum the overall growth of Kerala, then not only non-resident Keralites, but entire Kerala will rush to the last bus and to find a seat on that.