Vision, Policy and Economy::By:Saumen Sarker
In 21st century Global Economy, we come across many stories of success and failures of economy of differentcountries, States around the world. We see some countries in world or even some states in India are very successful in planning their economic future driven by the vision and knowledge of regional and global markets. I have travelled around the world from India to North America,South America, Europe, Middle-East and parts of Asia – apart from that I have worked in major Banks and Companies having global presence, interacted with many successful captains of Industry, Policymakers – during my travel in many countries, the question of economic success or failure , policy analysis kept my mind constantly pre-occupied apart from my daily professional engagements.
If we look at the emerging markets and economies, for example Dubai in middle east , even as early as going 20yrs back around 1994,compared now, nothing much was there but today you can see Dubai transformed as the most modern and richest city in the world – even in the eyes of a New Yorker like me, I would say Dubai has crossed NY in many areas in terms of wealth. Same goes for India’s Hyderabad which transformed in amazing pace - where now new Hyderabad IT hub stands in Hi-Tech city and surrounding areas in Gachibowli, Madhpur - in the era of 1991/92 nothing was there – any direction you can only see rocks and barren lands. I still rememberin mybeginning years of career in Hyderabad and Bangalore, where I have witnessed the massive transformation of these cities into Global IT Hub . So much fond memories of Hyderabad , in 1995,as a Manager of Networking Divisionof Indus Networks Ltd , I alongwith my junior engineer Madhu used to ride around Hyderabad for project presentation to companies. I still remember one of those days, I was going for a project presentation to JNIDB (Jawaharlal Institute of Developmental Banking where from RBI to all major Indian Bank’s senior executives come for learning), Gachibowli - after crossing the area where now Cyber Tower stands, I parked my bike beside a roadside village tea stall for a cup of tea and a quick smoke alongwith my partner Madhu. Dusty roads, buffalos and rocks everywhere of that part of Hyderabad in those days. Now if you visit , same places now filled with multinational companies like Google, Bank of America, General Electric and 5 Star Hotels like Westin etc. I fondly remember that road to Gachibowli as I visited many times to visit JNIDB – also it was a success story for me personally -we bagged Wide Area Networking Project of JNIDB, a very big achievement in my career as I designed the project and implemented. JNIDB campus was very beautiful , in those days of struggling life, simple mineral water at JNIDB tasted like a heavenly treat after 40 minutes of bike ride through hot sun 40’C temperature of Hyderabadi summer. During my college and beginning days of my career in Hyd/Bangalore I would like to thank many of those kind hearted Telugu, Malayali, Tamil and Kannada hotel/tea shop owners who loved me from their heart and generously helpedwith meals, tea and smoke almost end of every month as our meagre salaries used to run out fast, mostly last week of every month always lived on credit which we used pay off in 1st week of every month. Journey from those struggling days of early career in Hyderabad to later daysin New York - probably someday I will attempt to write those memories. Hyderbad’s transformation from a medium size city, average economy to a Global hub and affluent economy should be inspiration for every small or medium town of India.
Even among different states of India , many are economically successful , many are not . For example like Assam which has abundant natural resources, or West Bengal which is Gateway of Eastern India - both these states had every potential to be economically successful but they are nowhere near Tamilnadu or Andhra Pradesh or Gujrat. My view is, lack of vision and subsequent lack of right policy decisions were the reasons behind economic, industrial failures of certain states. A state like Gujrat had NarendraModi, Andhra Pradesh had Chandrababu Naidu kind of visionaries but West Bengal or Assam had none. If I look at vision and policy makings at Gujrat or AP , I see that those states leaders felt the need to consult with State’s intellectuals, NRIs, Industrialists for preparing the blueprint of Vision and Policy for next 5 to 10 yrs which in turn fueled the economic growth of the State.
For any State or Country – right Vision and Policy are very important factors for economic growth. A good policy driven by good vision always invites more investment, generates more revenue, more private sector employment for the state. This helps Government with good revenue generation, cash flow for projects and less burden of providing Govt employment for unemployed population. Good economic policies generate a chain reaction or cash flow which helps State to spend for more in developmental projects. Unless a State or Country has a good policy, or willing to implement them – State’s misery never ends.
On a small state like Tripura’s context ,Tripura need to plan for next 5 to 10yrs to the path to economic success. Tripura is small, neither has much natural resources other than gas, should plan whats best for state in coming future. In my view, Tripura should position itself as a NE India’s Trading Gateway with neighboring Bangladesh. If that happens, Tripura can earn a lot of revenue from Import-Export levies. Tripura also should focus more on Bio-Technology as a business, should encourage cash crops like Stevia or Herbs, Spices, should minimize rubber cultivation to maintain eco-balance, restore at least half of State’s earlier forest area which will improve water level in rivers and irrigation. Another important issue is rising costs of daily food prices, vegetables, poultry, fish etc - A good planning is required to produce enough of those items inside state so that prices will come down, within reach of common man. Next will be strengthening Healthcare - apart from Agartala, every District needs good hospital and good Doctors – involving CMC Vellore or AIIMS for joint venture with State/Central cost sharing basis will attract Medical Tourism from neighboring Bangladesh and Northeast India, as well, it will drastically bring down expenditure of every family spending on flight fare to Calcutta and outside Hospitals. Due to geographical location, lack of trained manpower, lack of necessary infrastructures, political instability in some parts - Northeast or Tripura will never be a favorite destination for IT or Electronics Industry – it’s a fact. This fact only may change in future (never know when) if India and China become friends and a trade route opens via Northeast to China, and China starts investing in North Eastern India. However Tripura can be now destination for many industry majors like BIOCON , Dabur, many Foreign companies dealing in Bio-Tech. In short, Tripura need to plan for its own economic future - from now on should target those investment segments. Tripura Govt need to form a dynamic team which will formulate policies, will visit business hubs like Bombay, Bangalore or Foreign countries to convince investors to invest in State. As the State’s population is increasing, so its socio-economic problems also increasing. For younger generations, we need more penetration of Internet so that young graduates can find many opportunities outside state. Also inviting and involving Foreign Governments in many projects similar like JICA, IGDC etc will help State with more fundings and employment generation.
If Tripura can create six satellite offices in major six Indian metros which will function like a bridge between Foreign/Indian Industries and Govt of Tripura – in turn it would help State in getting required investments and subsequent employment generations. Same satellite offices also can function as guidance/placement center for fresh graduates, also helping patients from Tripura.
In my view, compared to other Govts like West Bengal etc, Tripura Govt is doing a good job so far in many sectors like maintaining law & order, roads, educationetc but needs improvement in healthcare, industry etc. However, irrespective of current economic situations, if not already initiated, State need to formulate right policies for its own economic future in coming decades.
About the Author: Saumen Sarker is a very familiar name to the people of Tripura. He is a Senior Network Engineering Architect based in New York with 20 yrs experience in Internetworking Industry and worked in past at General Electric, Cisco Systems, Bank of New York, Merrill Lynch, NYC Govt, NEC , Hewlett Packard. He is an Internet Security Expert.At present he is settled in the USA in connection with his work.
NB: Views expressed are personal .
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