A spectacle is about to unfold. Finally, the Investors Summit as part of the Progressive Punjab branding attempt of the state government gets underway on Monday.
Posters are everywhere, inviting you to attend the summit, now to be an annual affair, as announced by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday.
However, even as business tycoons flock the tricity, this could also be a time for reflection and see where we are headed? The industrialisation drive has put the spotlight on Sukhbir and the state, but has the government machinery taken any note of the impact it will have on pollution?
This seems to have been discussed with a compromise having been arrived at. ‘Green’ buildings in tourism and hospitality, apart from other sectors, will get extra concessions from the government. Implementation could be crucial here.
Which area gets what?
From a perusal of information in public domain, it appears most new projects will be set up in Malwa, followed by Amritsar, SAS Nagar?
This may be a logical move considering the availability of land and relatively better prospects in these areas, however the possibility of a political overtone to the decision exists.
Another question that could concern the state’s residents is, how many of the new investors will be comfortable hiring Punjab’s youth and generate 1 lakh jobs in two years, an avowed objective?
Industry minister Madan Mohan Mittal has refused to say anything on reservation for the local youth. Perhaps the reader will not be surprised to know that even start-ups have and continue to find it extremely difficult to find appropriate talent for their ventures here in the tricity. So, while the prime billing being given to IT could work, given the physical incentives on offer, will the drive provide jobs to its own?
Influx of people to Punjab in numbers, first to set up plants, and then to operationalise and maintain them should be taken as a given. There are and there will also be positive takeaways from the event and the MoUs, to be signed. With a new industrial policy in place, continuation in tax structure is more than likely to be a permanent feature of business administration. This helps a businessman firm up his plans with confidence.
Another positive is that the new industries that finally enter the state will press on the state machinery for better infrastructure. What will also gladden hearts is the purported move by Manipal University to commit Rs. 1,000-crore to building a Medical College, Medicity, at an unspecified location as yet. We have universities in number in the state, but quality has been a concern for some time, recent good news from Panjab University notwithstanding.
An area perhaps that has missed the policy makers’ attention is making entertainment an industry and inviting investment into it. Admittedly not the government’s domain, but I hope that 50 years down the line, some adventurous mind will finally manage to make a film city in the state and provide an alternative to Mumbai.
On balance, if nothing more, the deputy CM’s efforts have forced the state to finally realise that as Punjabis we must get back to work and being industrious is a virtue worth cultivating.