On lending support and entrepreneurship
As rightly pointed out by Governor La Ganesan, there is no denial of the fact that a robust entrepreneurship can definitely pave the way for economic development of a country or state. It is understood that entrepreneurship provides not only self employment but also creates job opportunities. But entrepreneurship simply does not grow on its own. Careful grooming and support are needed for entrepreneurship to take roots and thrive. Without the right dose of support in terms of infrastructure, capital, finance, technology, skill and market, it would be extremely hard, if not impossible, for entrepreneurship to take off in any region or state. Absence or lack of this crucial support is one major issue which has been stunting the growth of entrepreneurship in Manipur. Skill development, innovation and entrepreneurship have been generally accepted as the key foundations for economic development of any society or nation. Even though these three elements are of paramount importance, they are not enough to bring economic development and growth on their own. Skill development, innovation and entrepreneurship can never be effective enough to bring or sustain economic development without investment and promotion by the State. This is where intervention and promotion by the State become indispensable. In line with the Central Government’s Make in India mission, the State Government conceptualised the idea of Make in Manipur some six/seven years back. Make in Manipur initiative was followed by the StartUp Manipur campaign and then came the StandUp Manipur. All these initiatives or campaigns, whatever one wishes to call, are aimed at bringing economic development and growth in the economically backward Manipur. But how successful these initiatives and missions are demands a threadbare analysis and introspection. After the Government of India launched the Make in India initiative, 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is permitted in all economic sectors with the exception of space industry, defence and media. Subsequently, 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.
However, the state government’s Make in Manipur initiative has not been able to garner any substantial foreign direct investment so far nor has it succeeded in wooing corporate investment. In the absence of FDI and investment from the corporate sector, it is entrepreneurship which must function as a principal driving force of the state’s economy. No doubt, innovative ideas are crucial for the growth of entrepreneurship in the State. 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. 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. One cannot hope to attract corporate investment when road or transport infrastructure is not reliable for inter-State and international business. No doubt, 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 and things have improved very little. Manipur has not yet found its place in the railway map of India. 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 if it is sincere enough to promote entrepreneurship and corporate investment.