Rajasthan : Land of Opportunities

camels and tourists in Thar desert

Image by Barabeke via Flickr

By Sameer Pushp

New Delhi, July 25, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) Rajasthan is a vibrant, exotic state where tradition and royal glory meet in a riot of colors against the vast backdrop of sand and desert. It has an unusual diversity in its entire forms- people, customs, culture, costumes, music, manners, dialects, cuisine and physiography. The history of the land has a saga and tale; every roadside village has its own flavor of valor and sacrifice, the winds singing them and the sands shift to spread them. The panoramic outlook of the state is simply mesmerizing; with lofty hills of Aravali’s- one of the oldest mountain ranges of the world and the golden sand dunes of the Great Indian Desert- the only desert of the sub-continent.

Rajasthan has always been viewed as a State having vast potential for economic and commercial growth.   Entrepreneurial spirit of people of Rajasthan especially from the Marwar region has a proven track record at national and global level.  Despite vast reserves of natural resources such as land, mines, minerals and sunlight, the growth prospects of the state have been hampered by lack of infrastructure and suitable programmes for tapping the rich skill base in the state.  In recent months, Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry in partnership with the Government and people of Rajasthan, has undertaken many projects to unleash the reservoir of skill, entrepreneurship and business acumen of the people of Rajasthan.  These efforts can be summarized as institutional development, skill up-gradation and creating the demarcated eco-systems of industrial and investment development.

Institutional Development

Basic consideration while devising any scheme for Rajasthan has to be the synergy between the proposed plan and indigenous resources both physical and human.  Keeping that in mind the Commerce and Industry Ministry has started work on a Rs. 100 crore project for establishing a Footwear Designing and Development Institute (FDDI) at Jodhpur, encompassing a 15 acre campus entailing the training capacity of 1000 students.  Rajasthan has a traditional advantage in leather industry because of strong historical background, availability of leather due to high livestock population and rich tradition of craftsmanship in the areas. There is a high demand for the courses offered by FDDI because of high employability in the fields of fashion merchandizing, retail management, footwear technology and leather goods and accessories designing.  Other campuses of FDDI have been maintaining 100% placement record; therefore, it will give a boost to the employment along with making Rajasthan hub of leather industry in the country.   Laying the foundation stones of the Campus recently, Shri Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce and Industry said that, “The establishment of the Institute will give the talented youths of Rajasthan one more avenue of up grading their skills and compete with strength in the job market”.

Another worth noting initiative which goes with the indigenous ambience is the establishment of Rs. 18 crore worth Spice Park in Jodhpur.  Established in a 60 acre area the park will have processing facilities for seed spices like coriander and fenugreek.  Other seed spices like cumin and fennel can also be processed.  The Spice Park is likely to be dedicated to the people of Rajasthan very soon.   A similar Spice Park is coming up at Ramgaj Mandi near Kota.  The State Government is an active partner and is contributing with important resources like land.   With such institutions coming up, a climate of professional enrichment will be regenerated which will eventually help in creating better entrepreneurial opportunities for the State.

Demarcated Eco-Systems

Because of its location and size Rajasthan is critical to any national scheme of SEZ, industrial corridors or manufacturing/investment zones.  No, wonder about 40% of proposed Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor falls under Rajasthan.  Development of the first node of DMIC i.e. Khushkhera-Bhiwadi-Neemrana investment region is in advanced stages and revised concept plans have been submitted.    During his recent visit to the State Shri Anand Sharma announced that the second node (city) will be in the Jodhpur Marwar region.  ‘If India has to achieve its destiny as industrial and manufacturing super power, Rajasthan will have to play a central role in the endeavour.

There are a total of 10 SEZs notified in the state of Rajasthan with the investment of Rs. 1105 crore SEZs are providing direct employment to at least 10,000 people in the State.  Exports from SEZs in the State touched Rs. 900 crore mark in 2010-11.  Significant areas where these SEZs are active include information technology and IT enabled services, gems and jewellery and handicrafts.  These demarcated eco-systems are critical as they provide integrated solutions for the needs of entrepreneurs’ investors with regard to infrastructure, labour, skills and investor friendly clearances.  Clearly such initiatives will instil a very strong culture of industry and entrepreneurship in the State.  DMIC and various SEZs along with proposed national manufacturing and investment zones will integrate the State in the fast lane of growth’, said the Minister while making the announcement.

The policy instruments proposed are Setting up of “National Manufacturing and Investment Zones” at Nimrana; rationalization and simplification of business regulations; Creation of a simple and expeditious exit mechanism for closure of sick units; Financial and institutional structures for development of technology, including green technology; Industrial training and skill up gradation measures; and Incentives for equity participation/venture capital in manufacturing units and related activities.

The establishment of National Manufacturing and Investment Zones (NMIZs) will be a major cornerstone of the industrialization strategy. They will be developed as integrated industrial townships with state-of-the-art infrastructure and land use on zoning basis. NMIZ would be large areas of at least 2000 hectares in size, to be developed and managed by Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), with the requisite eco-system. Each SPV will undertake measures for the development, growth, operation and management of the NMIZ. The Government intends to develop NMIZ which would not only provide the required infrastructure but also enabling environment to give impetus to the manufacturing activities in the country.

Skill Up-gradation

In order to reap the demographic advantage of having pre-dominantly young population, skill up-gradation and vocationalisation of education have become national priorities.   Keeping in mind the indigenous cultural and resource factors, efforts in this area clearly reflect the strengths of the State.  In order to promote rural leather artisan clusters a scheme called ‘Support of Artisan’ with an outlay of Rs. 40 crore is working in the State.  Rural leather artisans are integral part of rural economy in the State and such programmes are aimed for generating local employment and export.  The interventions aim to enhance their designs and provide revolving funds for raw material and marketing support.  It is a 360 degree intervention involving establishment of centralized resource centres, product and design development, brand promotion and development of marketing linkages. Another PPP project is Crew Bose academy at Neemrana that has the explicit goal of providing employment to more than 6, 500 people in the area.  In last six months the Academy has trained 700 people and majority of them have been employed.

India has been maintaining a consistent record of growth in spite of global slowdown.  In order to maintain this momentum it is clear that concerted efforts should be made to create a climate of industrial development with committed investments in infrastructure and skill up gradation.  States like Rajasthan hold the key to provide driving energy to this momentum.  Attention to critical areas of growth and development in this important State is a step in right direction.  Only conducive opportunities for youth for employment and growth can let the state live its true ethnicity, charisma and color to its enduring traditional way of life.

- PIB Features

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB or WBRi.

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