November 17, 2018

Make in Odisha 2018 ignored farmers and the brands of Odisha

Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha,
addresses investors at Make in Odisha Conclave 2018.
Picture courtesy: Odisha Government
Though the Make in Odisha Conclave 2018 is being termed by the state government as a successful event mainly by virtue of the promises it has drawn, to a lot of Odisha's ordinary population, it failed in many aspects.

Started in Bhubaneswar on November 12, 2018, the event was participated by India’s top industrialists like Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries, Kumarmangalam Birla of Aditya Birla Group, Naveen Jindal of Jindal Steel, Anil Agrawal of Vedanta Resources among many others who for a day made the state capital city the point of highest attention.

The focus of the conclave being on manufacturing sector, most of the investment came from industrial houses engaged in mining and mineral based production. of course, some investment came for digital, sports and athletics, health and textile sectors.

As Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, revealed on the second day of the event, the 2018 conclave witnessed an overall investment intent of Rs. 4,19,574 crores across 15 diversified sectors which shall create 5, 91,000 additional jobs.”

However, these all are only promises made. How much of them are going to be realized is being doubted by many who believe that the conclave failed in creating a dream for most of its population living in a miserable state.

The state being primarily agrarian, its people expected a sizeable investment in the food and agriculture sector with the intent to build infrastructure, which would benefit more than 60 percent of its working population engaged in farming activities. Though companies like ITC and Britannia Industries announced investments to scale up their existing food processing units, it would hardly benefit the farmers of the state.

Despite claims by the government that Odisha is the first state of India in doubling income of its farmers, the fact is that farmers in the state are under acute financial stress and are committing suicide for reasons many of which are avoidable.

While farmers' issues have been ignored almost completely, Odisha received some investment proposals in regard to textile industry and related sectors. However, ironically, the government didn’t show any interest in reviving its heritage textile brand, Odisha Textile Mill (OTM), through private investment. The mill has been shut down and remains a defunct unit since many years leaving thousands of its workers jobless.

Similarly, Konark TV, the famous brand of 1980s and early 90s could have been presented before investors for revival.

Both the government owned brands of Odisha had created a mark for themselves in the manufacturing domain of India. These two among many other state owned units were closed down in the name of disinvestment during the first term of Naveen Patnaik as the Chief Minister of Odisha.

The last being the second one after the first edition of 2016, one can only hope that the government takes these aspects into consideration while organising the third edition of the conclave in 2020.

An editted version of it appeared on RaisinaHill, on Nov 22, 2018.

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