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Maharashtra’s pitch for a New India: Investment led job creation

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“In five to ten years, the material economy will be taken over by the digital economy. Artificial intelligence, robotics, banking and financial services aided by digital technology, animation are the important areas to concentrate upon.”

While it would be instinctive to assume that the above words were spoken by young CEO of a technology company, it would be rather difficult to imagine that these are the words of an Indian politician. This however, is the impact of a ‘New India’ as envisaged and built by Hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi. An India where the richest state is led by a forward thinking yet rooted Chief Minister. These words were of Devendra Fadnavis, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra whose aim is for Maharashtra to become a trillion-dollar economy by 2025 in US Dollar terms. He has stressed on the need for his state, the highest contributor in terms of GSDP nationally, to be at the forefront of India’s race to become a five trillion dollar economy. The route, as stressed by Fadnavis, to ensuring that Maharashtra grows rapidly despite facing crisis in agriculture is by creating future ready employment, investment led employment in the state.

Three key factors are crucial to understand in this aspect.

1) Investment based job creation:

The Government of Maharashtra, has focussed its efforts in ensuring that the ease of doing business in the state is improved. This includes reducing the number of required procedures to start a business from 48 to just 7. The Chief Minister also initiated the state’s first ever investment summit called ‘Magnetic Maharashtra’ which aimed to attract investment across different sectors. Through the summit, 4,106 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) involving an investment of more than Rs. 12.10 trillion were signed which in turn would create 3.6 million jobs in the state. Apart from which, an additional 200,000 jobs would be created by approved investment of Rs. 3.91 trillion by government agencies. As per news reports, the Government is also looking to link job creation to fiscal investments by revising the industrial promotion policy.

2) Skill Development:

This approach of ensuring that investment drives employment coupled with employment ready skill development is a winning formula. As of 2017, NSDC data indicated that Maharashtra topped the nation in skill development. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of creating a skilled India, Maharashtra plans to equip 45 million people with employable skills by 2022. In line with this goal, 11 partnership agreements with private firms and institutions have been signed under the Pramod Mahajan Kaushalaya Vikas and Udyojakta Abhiya to train unemployed youth. An interesting aspect has been that centres for industry specific skill development are being inaugurated across the state. For example, a skill development park in defence sector is to be established with an investment of Rs 3 billion with the help of Tata group at Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur (Mihan).

3) Entrepreneurship:

Similarly, there has been a push on entrepreneurship led employment generation. A start-up policy released by the Government has been ambitious in pushing for entrepreneurship in school/college level. The policy has also focussed on setting up incubation units across the state. Industry participation too has been facilitated. For example, an agreement with Ola Cabs was entered into, under which the cab aggregator would train 20,000 youth to become micro-entrepreneurs in the field of passenger transport in the next five years.

While these three major factors will play an important role in ensuring the growth of the Maharashtra economy, the aspect of increasing the share of employment and thereby the service sector itself, is not to be missed. The service sector has been growing over time, from 8.1% in 2013-14 to 10.8% in 2016-17. In his speeches, Devendra Fadnavis has demonstrated that he understands the crucial role the service sector has to play to ensure the trillion-dollar-vision is materialized. He has spoken about the need to reskill and upskill the youth of Maharashtra to prepare for a digital driven, service sector driven Maharashtra. Some of this talk has now converted to action with the state Government coming up with FinTech policies, ideating on the uses of AI and blockchain technology.

The youthfulness of a leader rests not in his age (although at 47, Devendra Fadnavis is fairly young for a CM), but in his future ready vision. And through this vision for an investment centric, new technology driven job creation strategy, Maharashtra may very well become the first Indian state to achieve a trillion-dollar economy.

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