UP working to turn challenges into opportunities, says Sidharth Nath SinghUpdated: Aug 01, 2020 00:26 IST
Uttar Pradesh has tackled several challenges in the fight against Covid-19. A focus on deft governance during the pandemic has helped the state deal with multifarious issues skillfully .
One such challenge involved providing jobs to a large population of migrant workers, who came back to the state following the nationwide lockdown. Minister for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) Sidharth Nath Singh is an active member of chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s team that has been tasked with turning these challenges into an opportunity. Umesh Raghuvanshi spoke to Singh, who also holds the portfolios of khadi and village industries, sericulture industries, textile, export promotion, NRI and investment promotion, about these issues and his efforts to bring investment to the state. Excerpts:
How are you facing the challenges?
Many challenges are there. But the guidance to work amid these challenges is coming from chief minister Yogi Adityanath. He is leading from the front.
The arrival of about 35 lakh migrant labourers could have turned into a crisis. But the chief minister did not think this way. He began working before the arrival of the migrant labourers. A committee was constituted to make recommendation about giving them jobs. I am a member of the committee. We have carried out skill mapping of 35 lakh migrant labourers.
How far have you been able to give them employment?
We have signed MoUs (memorandums of understanding) with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), Laghu Udyog Bharati, Indian Industry Association (IIA) and National Real Estate Development Council (NREDC) to provide 11 lakh jobs. About 85,000 tailors have been absorbed in Noida and Greater Noida. There was an opportunity because many garment manufacturers in countries like Bangladesh and China were not able to supply garments to buyers in Europe, the USA and Canada. The chief minister allowed export units to be opened. There was a requirement of about two lakh. But we only had 85,000 to offer. Over 1.25 crore mandays have been generated in MNREGA.
What about efforts to attract investment?
The chief minister wanted that we get in touch with ambassadors and high commissions. I had a personal discussion with minister for external affairs S Jaishankar. He said the best way will be to use industry or commerce forums. Ficci arranged the same through video conferencing. We have got in touch with the USA, the UK, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Russia. We have completed the exercise with eight countries. Two more, France and Israel, are to be done. Uttar Pradesh has inherent strengths. A new industrial climate is being created here with reforms. We have given them information. It has helped. The Canadian ambassador (high commissioner) has sent us a proposal. There are proposals from the Indian Embassy in Japan. They have sent us five to six proposals. Americans say they have proposals. They are getting the proposals vetted. These proposals will be forwarded to us after vetting. Russia says there are certain investments that can flow due to the defence corridor coming up in the state.
What about the new export policy?
There is a huge disturbance in the supply chain from China. This is the time to fill in the space the China is leaving. This is a great opportunity. We are working on it. I have had discussions to take this forward. We are coming out with a new export policy. For example, China exports ceramics of about 8 billion US dollars. Uttar Pradesh has units of ceramics in Khurja. They are exporting. China will not be able to supply as much as they have been doing. They have about 80% of the global market. This is going to drop now. UP has to be ready.
What about Microsoft?
Microsoft’s north India campus is coming up in the Noida/Greater Noida region. We have identified land for them. They have to come and inspect the land. But unfortunately due to lockdown and Microsoft’s policy for this period, nobody is allowed to travel. These people have to travel from Hyderabad and Chennai. Once they come, we will finalise the land for them.
How has this affected you on the personal front?
There are restrictions on travelling. I have travelled to my constituency only on a few occasions. This gives you little time for yourself. My duration of exercises has gone up from 30 minutes to over an hour now. I have hooked on to some app-based yoga programmes. I never realised that I can cook so well. I have been cooking these days. I cook not only Indian food, but continental food as well. I have tried Teriyaki food too.
Do virtual rallies or video conferences work?
A: It’s always good to meet people. But some time a personal meeting may not be needed. Technology has come as a great help for such situations. We as a political party (the BJP) and the state government have been making use of technology to the optimum. On a day, I had to address a press conference in Kanpur and two political rallies in Prayagraj and Kaushambi. All the three were managed comfortably and the number of those who attended the virtual rallies was as good as it may have been if I had gone there.