Industrialists in Tiruchi region had an opportunity to learn about the CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) strategies to be adopted for well-planned economic development and employment generation from their counterparts in Coimbatore during a panel discussion on ‘Building Modern Economy in Tier II & III Cities’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Tiruchi Zone.

Ways of bridging urban-rural divide through inclusive growth, the Government’s role in accelerating human resource development suiting industrial needs; the ambience that investors look for before planning their investments in a non-metro city; the synergy that could be created by a joint approach by the Government, industries, and industry organisations; and the imperative need for transforming the demographic advantage of India to put the country in a higher trajectory of economic growth ranked top among the points deliberated upon during the meet held on Friday.

Chaired by Rani Muralidharan, Chairperson, MSME Panel, CII Tiruchi Zone, the other panellists comprised C.K. Ranganathan, Chairman, CII Tamil Nadu; Nandini Rangaswamy, Vice-Chairperson, CII Tamil Nadu; A.R. Bodkhe, Assistant Executive Director, Dalmia Cements (Bharat) Ltd.; and Mathew K., General Manager, Elgi Equipments Ltd.

The sense of pride with which Ms. Rangaswamy and Mr. Mathew explained the developmental role of industries based in and around Coimbatore through starting hospitals and educational institutions came in for appreciation from the participants. “By starting institutions the industries not only create the workforce for their own requirements but also fulfil the human resource needs of the region,” said Mr. Mathew.

Ms. Rangaswamy dwelt on the significance in devoting attention on the predominantly middle class population in Tier II and III cities, which, she said, constituted the driving force of knowledge economy.

The country could make the most of its demographic advantage of a higher composition of youth population by bridging skill gaps. She emphasised on creation of educational, ICT and physical infrastructure through public-private partnership for bringing about inclusive growth.

Mr. Ranganathan felt that along side inward development, tier II & III cities need to attract outside investors by showcasing their progress on the fronts of education, health care and entertainment. Investors decide on their plans in smaller cities by benchmarking Chennai. He was in favour of the Government altering its conservative approach to bring about development in the entertainment sector to which outside investors attached high importance. Mr. Ranganathan sounded confident of the scope for IT investments in Tier II and III cities to foster their economic progress.

Listing the CSR initiatives of cement companies, Mr. Bodhke said that though there has been substantial infrastructure development in Tiruchi city owing to the presence of large industries in the district, and in the neighbouring Ariyalur district, there was a lot more to be done.

Ms. Muralidharan, who set the pace for the discussion on positioning tier II and III cities in terms of development and employment generation, acknowledged the need for private initiatives for developing infrastructure, and the role of CII in representing Tiruchi’s case to investors and the Government to make the difference.