At a recent media gathering held on Sunday here, apart from the CM, speakers including former finance secretary S Narayan (TN Advisory Council member), N Muruganandam, Principal Secretary, Industries Department, TN, Sridhar Vembu, CEO-founder, Zoho Corp, KE Ranganathan, MD, Parryware Roca, shared their perspectives on the things working in favour of TN.
Ranganathan sought to highlight that the $1 trillion figure could be seen as a “stretch target” and not a dream as the state has the potential to grow 10x in a decade. For the state, the service sector’s contribution was 55 pc, 30 pc from manufacturing while agriculture constituted 15 pc. “TN must work closely with the manufacturing sector and the agri biz (farmers). The Chennai port considered one of the best in the country and a renewed focus on exports could make the target realisation a certainty.” With a 20 per cent growth every year, the $1 trillion target could be achieved, he said, noting that the think-tank working at the back was working to make this possible. TN also is the second wealthiest GDP state in the country, Ranganathan pointed out.
Vembu, in his address, said the emphasis needs to be shifted to raising the per capita income rather than focusing on the GDP. For instance, Malaysia, Taiwan had a per capita of $13,000 and $28,000 respectively compared to India’s per capita of $3,500. “We are winning in many areas now,” he said, betting on the home-grown engineering talent.
Rather than being mere “spectators,” he urged the stakeholders to becoming “players” to be able to develop Western technology indigenously. On one hand is the rising labour cost and competition from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh. Even the sourcing of factory machinery is from outside the country. Therefore, instead of pure labour-intensive play, it is high time the focus is on value-addition. Vembu emphasised that if the industry is able to invest $1 to $2 mn a year on R&D, then the need to import machines can be eliminated.
Narayan, in his address, said the state had already “leapfrogged into a dimension” of technology and software backed by skilled and educated workforce that was feeding into diverse sectors. While the incentive structure to woo investors be it educated talent, infra, among other things, was already available in TN, the spread of development should now cover backward locations such as Arakkonam, Tirutani. Industries coming up in every Taluk will disperse development. Narayan urged for a “twist” in incentives to support income generating employment activity rather than capital alone which would be more beneficial. He added that Telangana is already doing it. He urged industrialists to pick up a few ports and transform it with multi-modal infra to aid hinterland development and generate employment like seen in Krishnapatnam port.
Speaking on behalf of the TN government, Muruganandam said a fintech policy is on the anvil and as part of it, a fintech city, near Chennai, is to come up. The state, in its efforts to reach the $1 trillion mark, has been working on various projects such as taking IT and IT enabled services to tier II, III and IV locations by setting up mini Tidel parks in four places – Thoothukudi, Villupuram, Tirupur and Vellore. Key sectors such as aerospace, defence, electric vehicles, petrochemicals and technical textiles had been identified and over 10 years with an investment target of $80 billion.
Some of the developments, he highlighted, included two aerospace parks in Coimbatore and Suru with $11 bn investment in 10 years, three mega food parks at Theni, Manapparai, Tindivanam (with a $15 bn potential) and data centres envisaging investment of Rs 20,000 crore.
As part of TN’s vibrant industrial policy, 22 districts had been identified as backward regions, which were to be augmented through 40 pc capital given back by the state, if the project is linked to employment generation. TN is also giving payroll and training subsidies. The electric vehicle policy is being updated, he said, adding an export cell had been created to ensure that the $100 billion target by 2030 is realised.
TN is also coming out with a R&D policy while continuing to focus on life sciences and pharma besides leveraging the productivity linked scheme of the Centre. Incidentally, TN has the distinction of having the highest availability of land parcel – 22,000 acres and the state’s intent is to take the land bank to 45,000 acres in the next five years, Muruganandam said.