|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Kerala ignores global economic changes: PM
January 18, 2003 13:04 IST
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Saturday highlighted the dichotomy in contemporary Kerala, saying that despite the state having the oldest and strongest links with the global community, it tends to ignore changes in national as well as global economies.
"Friends, let me however confess that I am equally amazed at another feature of contemporary Kerala. On the one hand, your state has perhaps the oldest and the strongest links with the global community. On the other, it sometimes exhibits a strange tendency to ignore winds of change in the global as well as the national economy," Vajpayee said addressing the Global Investors' Meet in Kochi.
He said while the people of Kerala have shown exemplary entrepreneurship when venturing out of India, they �do not feel inspired to invest in Kerala itself to start industrial and business ventures and create wealth and employment opportunities here.'
"There is an impression that Kerala does not offer a business-friendly climate, either for outside investors or even for its own entrepreneurs. It is seen as a good place to sell goods because there are so many people with high incomes but not as a good place to set up industrial and other business ventures," Vajpayee pointed out.
Taking a cue from Malayalam cinema, Vajpayee mentioned the movie called Varavelppu in which famous actor Mohanlal acts as a Gulf-returned Keralite.
"He invest his savings in a small business venture with high hopes. But in the end, he is forced to close it down after going through many unpleasant experiences," Vajpayee said, adding that the GIM should serve as an occasion for introspection.
"Why is it that Kerala, in spite of its exemplary record in social development, has lagged behind in economic development? In spite of possessing rich and abundant natural resources, why is the rate of unemployment in Kerala almost three times higher than the national average?" he asked.
Vajpayee said if the state's economic growth rate remains low, how can it sustain its widely acclaimed �Kerala model' in health, education, women's empowerment and other social indicators.
"Will and should future generations be deprived of these benefits because of the present generation's resistance to change?" the prime minister wondered.
He said Keralites from all walks of life, especially those working outside, say that the state now needs to look ahead 'and not remain trapped in outdated dogmas and sterile ideological debates.'
"I have heard them asking themselves a recurrent question: While workers' interests should certainly be protected, is it in the workers' or the state's interest to discourage investors through frequent strikes, gheraos and attimari?" Vajpayee said.
"Shouldn't we unload this historical burden from our heads and build a new Kerala?" he asked.
The Global Investor Meet 2003