On inviting capital and investment
Inviting the corporate sector primarily means inviting capital and investment. In the contemporary world of market driven economies, the corporate sector plays a pivotal role in the economic development of any State or region. With huge capitals at their disposal, corporates have the capacity to develop all the necessary industrial infrastructure, provided the atmosphere is conducive for their business. Corporate investment depends upon the profitability of opening businesses in those places where they are invited to invest. Corporates would definitely come to the State if they are convinced that there is conducive atmosphere and they see profitability of opening their business here. No doubt, Manipur has seen many changes over the years. But are they enough to win investment from the corporate sector? Connectivity is another very crucial factor for opening any business establishments. But Manipur has not yet finds its place in the railway map of India although the Indian Railways claimed that almost 90 per cent of the railway project from Jiribam to Imphal has been completed. Whereas Manipur is totally landlocked, there are only two highways which connect the State to other parts of India, and unfortunately both these highways are quite prone to different types of disturbances, both natural and man-made. The Government must first deal with these issues before presenting the State as a perfect destination for corporate investment. The Government may start by expediting the railway project and the highway construction works. A landlocked State like Manipur needs not just one or two highway(s) but at least half a dozen which would connect the State with the outside world in different directions. Today, highways are road to survival. In future, they can be roads to prosperity. Investment from corporates and MNCs would create many opportunities but they would also pose a number of formidable challenges to the State. But Manipur cannot afford isolation in this age of globalization and we must adapt and thrive.
India’s rank in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index climbed 23 places to 77 among 190 countries surveyed, according to a report published a few years back. 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. Even a conclave was held at the State capital on Manipur Start-up followed by another some years back. The Chief Minister went a step farther on Tuesday by inviting corporates to come to Manipur and see the potential of the State. The two conclaves, if anything, were unmistakable signs of the State Government’s vigorous push for Start-up Manipur. Start-up Manipur was conceptualised and launched with the primary objective of achieving economic development by way of promoting entrepreneurship. 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 promotion of entrepreneurship by the State which entails a fair dose of political will. There must also be modern physical infrastructure, adequate investment and capacity building, and the State cannot simply sit back and wait for corporate investment. 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. Indeed, industrial infrastructure is important but what strikes our mind first when one talks about physical infrastructure is connectivity. Manipur and the entire North East region are known for poor connectivity all along. This has not changed much even today even though there have been many changes. This is exactly the sector which the Government must pay priority in any initiative aimed at bringing economic development in the State.