• Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Odisha Needs Public Policy Conducive To Wealth Creation

Foxconn plans an electronics manufacturing facility in Telangana that will employ one lakh people. Almost simultaneously media also reported that its proposed iPhone plant in Bangalore on a 300-acre property close to the Airport would, by 2027, engage up to a lakh people and its investment would get scaled up to $1 Billion.

Prasanna Mishra
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Vedanta and Foxconn, in a 60-40 joint venture, reportedly will be setting up India’s first semiconductor production plant, a display fab unit, and a semiconductor assembling and testing unit over 1000 acres near Ahmedabad. The plant is expected to begin production in two years. While Foxconn would be the technical partner, Vedanta would provide financial support. The investment is worth over 1.54 trillion Rupees (approx. US $20 billion). The semiconductor manufacturing will be carried out by the holding company, Volcan Investments Limited. Various investor-technology consortiums like IGSS are anxious for early Government decision on package of incentives for applicants to the semiconductor manufacturing programme. 
Recently there was big news that Foxconn plans an electronics manufacturing facility in Telangana that will employ one lakh people. Almost simultaneously media also reported that its proposed iPhone plant in Bangalore on a 300-acre property close to the Airport would, by 2027, engage up to a lakh people and its investment would get scaled up to $1 Billion. While Foxconn is yet to take final decision on these investments, it is noteworthy that Wistron, another Taiwanese company, already has a plant in Kolar in Karnataka that has been manufacturing iPhones for the last 5 years. 

These projects being in news about Foxconn and many other proposals in the Indian horizon are on mega scale. Performing Indian States are vigorously pursuing and attracting such projects each one of which would offer jobs for a gargantuan workforce going up to even a lakh people. 

Odisha, sadly, is fast losing opportunities. Its ecosystem continues to be extremely poor and infrastructure, thoroughly inadequate. The state Government’s obsession with peripheral activities like sports jersey and beach tent pitching, actually means squandering scarce  resources and amounts to losing precious time as well. The state’s political and bureaucratic leadership seems clueless, unable even to grasp the immense possibilities the emerging opportunities hold out. 

The ruling Party’s continued passion in keeping the forty five million people of the state in a subsistence economy with largesse in shape of unmerited freebies to millions had paid rich political dividends. It has been winning elections. Public policy narrative it has pursued has been for winning election; hardly ever to strengthen the state’s economy and put it on a sustainable growth path. Wherever wealth creation strategy has been adopted, it has subserved crony capitalism. Attention to appropriate infrastructure has been inadequate. It is worthwhile noting that between 2018 and 2022 India’s economic ecosystem has created every day 70 new millionaires.

Odisha is yet to look at urban development with the seriousness it deserves. World over, urban centres have been engines of growth. Odisha’s towns are languishing. They continue to be  pockets where is less of prosperity and order but plenty of chaos. While India’s urban population is projected to be 67.54crore in 2035 (43.2% 0f country’s population), growing from 48.31 crore in 2020 , Odisha’s urban growth dynamics continues to be abysmally slow and skewed. Odisha is yet to build even any  small modern greenfield town in two decades.  I am for a modern lake town at Satapada. I am for an access controlled lush green, flowering boulevard from Puri to Satpada. That is how we create wealth, protect environment and bring about a paradigm shift to quality of living. As soon as I suggest that, some millennials feel disturbed. The idea of a prosperous country does not necessarily mean concentrated wealth in the hands of a few. A developed and wealthy nation can be egalitarian as well. A few nations have this model and they are proud of it. They are uncomfortable with concentration of wealth in a few hands.  We need not have pathological fear for prosperity. In Odisha many do have such fear. Powerful political forces are not comfortable with widespread prosperity as well. This mindset must change. Our educated millennials must not be roadblocks but should be enablers for a prosperous land.  Fear for prosperity, I think, arises because we are more comfortable with not working. Prosperity does not come on a platter. We have to work for it, most of the time it means hard work. 

The state with a large number of religious places and scenic spots, should have many modern townships at such places. The state should have built a few hill stations in Koraput and Gajapati regions of the state. Our architectural solution to urban housing too needs to change to promote modern housing on a huge scale. A home needs to address basic issues like sustenance, self esteem and freedom which a ₹ 2.50 crores 3 BHK flat in Bhubaneswar downtown does not. Spatial planning needs greater attention to ensure satisfaction of having comfortable homes to maximum number. A decent alternative arrangement that is between a PM Awas and  a ₹250 lakh flat is needed. That arrangement would make housing both affordable and more livable. Some performing states have brought in large scale sophistication to building infrastructure projects. Country’s  Road sector is presently witnessing Highways and Expressways being built at great speed and are of international standards. Huge building space is being created  within a very short time. For example, the 7 storey Flight Control System Complex in Bangalore could be constructed in just 45 days, usually the time taken for tendering.  Such performance is worth emulating.

While many Indian states are performing with flexible public policies, have turned growth engines and are on weath creation paths, it looks strange that Odisha is unable to rise above the small-time obsession with freebies. So long the present policy continues, holistic prosperity on a sustainable scale would continue to elude us while the ruling party could continue to win elections. 

There is a lot of merit in what Robert Noyce had said "Don't be encumbered by history, just go out and do something wonderful."

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. The author can be reached at lonewalker.1942@gmail.com)