PM Inaugrates, Emerging Kerala Global Connect Meet

Signalling its intention to become a front-ranking economic powerhouse of the country, Kerala unfolded before India Inc and business tycoons and industrialists from across the world its entire spectrum of economy, seeking their investments and collaborations for scripting a new growth story for God’s Own Country.

Kerala should target people-focused, inclusive and sustainable development driven by knowledge and innova­tion, while keeping environment concerns at the forefront of its growth agenda, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said inaugurating the Emerging Kerala 2012 Global Connect. While inaugurating the three-day Emerging Kerala global connect event, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India assured that his government would help to improve the industrial infrastructure of the state.

“Labour-intensive light manufacturing has a strong comparative advantage in this state, and all assistance needs to be given to the small and micro business en­terprises,” the PM said. “We need to build an enabling environment to facilitate investments in every possible way. I hope that this conference would find new pathways of doing so,” he added.

The Prime Minister saluted the new-age entrepreneur­ial spirit of the youth in Kerala, and said the Centre was “seriously considering” the demand for establishing an IIT in the state. He noted that the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, the Indian Institute of Space Technology and the Central University in Kasargod, set up recently, are shaping into institutions of excellence.

Kerala should target people-focused, inclusive and sustainable development driven by knowledge and in­ novation, while keeping environment concerns at the forefront of its growth agenda, he suggested.

Emerging Kerala 2012 is a biennial global connect event that is intended to turn the state into a premier glob­al hub of economic activity and fuel its growth dreams.

Around 1,900 delegates from 51 countries, besides 50 diplomats, were participated in the mega initiative being organised by the Government of Kerala in collaboration with CII and Nasscom.

Mr. Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of Kerala urged youngsters to work towards becoming job creators instead of job seekers. “To facilitate such a shift and encourage entrepreneurship among the students in Kerala, we will put in place a landmark Student Entrepreneurship Policy.”

He said the policy provides for 20% attendance relaxation and 4% grace marks in academic courses for students who pursue entrepreneurship and innovation during their studies.

“Emerging Kerala is not just an investors’ meet. It is a platform for opinion makers and policy providers to sit together and ponder over ways to make Kerala the most desirable, the most happening and the most eco-friendly human habitat on Earth,”Mr. Chandy said, sounding confident about the state’s resilient economy.

The inaugural function saw the presence of Mr. H R Bhardwaj, State Governor, Mr. A. K. Antony, Union Minister for Defense, Mr. Vayalar Ravi, Union Minster for Overseas Affairs, Prof K V Thomas, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Mr. K. C. Venugopal Union Minister for MoS for Power, Mr. E. Ahamed, Union Minister for MoS for HR and Exter­nal Affairs, and Mr. Mullappally Ramachandran, UnionMinister for MoS for Home.

Besides State Ministers Mr. P. K. Kunhalikutty, Min­ister for Industries and IT, Kerala and Mr. K.M. Mani, State Minister for Finance, Mr. Adi Godrej, President, CII, Ministers of Kerala, Senior government officials and dignitaries from India and abroad were also present.

The event has hosted four plenary and 14 sectoral sessions. The plenary sessions will focus on areas like infrastructure, manufacturing, trade and services, and socio-cultural heritage. The sectoral sessions include tour­ism, IT and ITeS, food & agro processing, healthcare, energy and science and technology. There is also a special session on non-resident Keralites (NRKs).

Dr. Manmohan Singh said Emerging Kerala would mark the beginning of a process for bringing together government and corporate leaders, heads of regulatory institutions, economists and scholars every two years to “explore new pathways to make Kerala a powerhouse of sustained economic and social development”.

The Prime Minister said the Rs 5,100-crore proj­ect would transform the face of the State’s commercial capital by easing traffic congestion. The Centre, he said, has also resolved issues on Cabotage restrictions that would immensely help the operation of the country’s first International Container Trans-shipment Terminal at Val­larpadam, inaugurated in February last year.

In his welcome address, Mr. Kunhalikutty said invest­ments will flow into the state once the world is convinced that Kerala is one of the best places to live in and work from.

“We have a clear development agenda to attract investments which are environment-friendly, create high levels of employment and encourage entrepreneurship.”

Mr. A K Antony lauded the state government for being sensitive to the concerns of all groups, includingenvironmentalists, while chalking out projects. “Debates and controversies should not come in the way of devel­opment. The ultimate goal is speedy development of the state,” he added.

Mr. K V Thomas pointed out that although Kerala was one of the pioneers in the IT sectors it lost ground over the years and now had an opportunity to regain its leading position.

Business tycoon and CII President Mr. Adi Godrej an­nounced that the CII is setting up a first-of-its-kind Centre of Excellence in Innovation, competitiveness and entrepreneur­ship to help MSMEs in Kerala move up the value chain.

Mr. K Jayakumar, Chief Secretary, proposed vote of thanks. The high-profile gathering at the inaugural session included Dr. M S Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Plan­ning Commission, Mr. Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Knowledge Commission, corporate and business leaders, diplomats and trade representatives from various nations.

The inaugural ceremony was followed by country ses­sions of the US, the UK and Japan. A plenary session on “Kerala Development Model: Enabling Faster, Inclusive and Sustainable Growth”, was told that the US has devel­oped a special strategy to peg up the share of Kerala in the burgeoning Indo-American trade, and the first such busi­ness delegation to the State will arrive in February next year.

Ms. Nancy J Powell, US Ambassador to India, said bilateral trade between India and US has grown five-fold in recent times, touching 90 billion dollars last year. “It is expected to cross 100 billion dollars this year, but the share of Kerala is very low. But it has greater prospects and we have developed a special strategy,’’ she added.

Mr. Ahluwalia, while appreciating the Kerala model of development that “has gone into history”, asked the Stateto benchmark itself against other countries, rather thanthe States. “We are expecting an economic growth of over 8 per cent, but Kerala should aim at 9-plus,’’ he said.

Mr. Pitroda said Kerala has the potential to emerge as the global champion of holistic medicines by leveraging the Ayurveda sector.

Earlier, in a country session on the UK, British High Commissioner to India Sir James Bevan asked Kerala to treat Britain as the first choice for partnership because of the advantages it held in many specialised areas, ranging from raising capital investment to providing skilled manpower.

“Kerala is looking for investment and we are specia­lised in raising capital for investment. Kerala is looking for infrastructure support and urban planning and we do make roads and build towns across the world. Kerala is looking for growth in the manufacturing sector, and we are the leaders in the sector. India wants to educate its people, and we have the top ten universities of the world in our country,” Sir James said.

Britain is participating in the event with the biggest ever trade delegation from his country, representing all major sectors, he said, while pitching his country as one of the finest destinations in the world to do business with and forge partnerships.

A country session on ‘Doing Business with USA’ saw speakers agreeing to a point that Kerala’s trade unions have become far less combative in recent times, but a lingering perception about their militancy continues to leave a section of investors concerned about starting busi­ness in the state.

Mr. James Golsen and Mr. Michael Cathey of the USConsulate in Chennai informed that the US was trying to ease the process for getting financial aid from Export-Import Bank of India. America, though, has yet to imple­ment its plans to issue Startup Visas, conceived to help smoother establishment of nascent firms in that country.

As for Japan, the East Asian country is keen on forg­ing business collaborations with Kerala and India and has expressed its willingness to contribute to the economic growth of the state by sharing its abilities in infrastruc­ture development. This came about in a country session on “Business opportunities through economic coopera­tion between Japan and India \" Japan’s resurgence post the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011”.

Speaking about the possibilities of business collabora­tion between Japan and India, Mr. Hajime Nakamura, Deputy Director, JETRO said that Japanese companies are interested in investment in India. “ICT and Health­care are two areas in which India and Japan can collabo­rate,” he added.

The Kerala State Industrial Development Corpora­tion (KSIDC), the nodal agency for the Emerging Kerala 2012 Global Connect, has set up a Project Facilitation Centre at the summit. The new facility functions at the KSIDC lounge in the B2B Hall at the Le Meridien Con­vention Centre.

Investors who have come up with new project ideas can submit their reports/proposals for scrutiny by KSIDC at the new centre. The Project Facilitation Cen­tre is designed to make it easier for investors and entre­preneurs to take their projects forward.

 
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