From Make in Manipur to Startup Manipur

It was the previous Chief Minister Okram Ibobi who conceptualised the Make in Manipur initiative in the line of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India mission, with both the initiatives or missions, whichever one prefers to call, aimed at bringing rapid economic development. Make in India was launched by the Government of India on September 25, 2014 under which 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is permitted with the exception of space industry, defence and media. Combined with other initiatives by the end of 2017, India rose 42 places on Ease of doing business index, 32 places on World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, and 19 notches in the Logistics Performance Index. The latest report says India’s rank in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index climbed 23 places to 77 among 190 countries surveyed. In lay men’s terms, the country is becoming more and more favourable for investment by foreign and multi-national companies. But one cannot say for sure if the same is true for the State of Manipur. It was almost one year later that the Modi-Government launched the Startup India campaign on August 15, 2015. While the Make in India is basically about opening the country to foreign direct investment, Startup India focuses on promotion of entrepreneurship for job creation through technical, scientific and financial support. The incumbent Government led by N Biren seems more interested in Startup campaign. It was on August 8 this year that a conclave was held at the State capital on Manipur Startup. The Chief Minister stated that the Manipur Startup Policy was proposed to be implemented with financial assistance of Rs 150 crore. 150 crore is not a very big amount. But it can definitely make a fine start if utilised prudently and productively.
The Chief Minister underscored the key roles of innovators and their innovative ideas for accomplishment of the mission. No doubt, innovative ideas are crucial for such a grand initiative. But ideas are not enough. It demands a slew of elements, the most fundamental being political will. There must also be modern physical infrastructure, adequate investment and capacity building. Conducive atmosphere for investment and growth of entrepreneurship are other prerequisites. But many of these prerequisites are conspicuously either absent or inadequate in the State as of now. By saying this we don’t intend to undermine the Chief Minister’s initiative. In fact, we are hoping for a socio-economic revolution out of the Make in Manipur and now Manipur Startup missions. It is not yet clear if the Make in Manipur has been totally abandoned or replaced by Manipur Startup. But the two initiatives should not be seen or treated as inter-changeable. The two must go side by side or concurrently if there should be rapid economic development in the State. Tourism and hospitality is one of the 25 sectors covered by Make in India initiative and Manipur at the moment is celebrating and trumpeting its biggest tourism festival, Manipur Sangai Festival. It is painful to note that neither the Make in India initiative has brought any substantial change to the State’s tourism sector so far nor the State Government has done anything worthwhile to capitalise on the grand initiative to boost its tourism sector.

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