Raising the hope for a flow of investments into this State, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday launched the Emerging Kerala investors’ meet, which he described as “a confluence of talent, expertise, and experience.”

Addressing senior business people, technocrats, and delegates from abroad, Dr. Singh said the event would “result in strategic alliances with the potential to open up new and innovative avenues.”

Participants

The three-day event, organised here by the Kerala government in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), is aimed at showcasing the State’s investment potential, especially in information technology, tourism and infrastructure, to investors from India and abroad. Among the 1,800-plus delegates, nearly one-third was from outside Kerala. There were some 50 diplomatic personnel, including the U.S. Ambassador, the British High Commissioner, and a Chinese Vice-Minister. Telecom wizard Sam Pitroda, who has formulated 10 business ideas for Kerala; Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia; the Prime Minister’s Adviser, T.K.A. Nair, who played a key role in making the Vallaradam container trans-shipment terminal a reality; and CII chairman Adi Godrej were among the key attendees.

Strong points

Referring to Kerala’s strong points, Dr. Singh said: “These strengths, along with the Chief Minister’s commitment to give a clean, transparent and effective administration to the people, should be leveraged, and leveraged optimally, to attract investments.” The event could lead to partnerships that would help in building local capacities and unleashing Kerala’s latent potential.

“I am happy that this is not a one-off event, but the beginning of a process which would bring together government and corporate leaders, heads of regulatory institutions, economists, scholars and eminent men and women from other walks of life every two years to find ways and means to make Kerala a powerhouse of economic development.” The Prime Minister, referring to the Centre-supported projects sanctioned for the State in recent years, said the United Progressive Alliance government had ‘‘encouraged and actively supported the efforts of Kerala to grow into a major investment hub.’’

“We would like the State to embark on a path of people-focused inclusive growth, driven by knowledge and innovation, and mindful of environmental concerns.”

He urged the State government to derive maximum possible benefit from the Centre’s initiatives, especially the National Skill Development Mission. “This would go a long way in tapping the energies of Kerala’s educated unemployed.”

No Central project announced

Though there was a general expectation that the Prime Minister would announce a major Central project for Kerala, it was not to be. The only announcement he made was that the long-pending demand for an Indian Institute of Technology was ‘under serious consideration’ of the Centre.

Opposition parties stayed way from the event alleging that the United Democratic Front government was selling Kerala’s natural wealth to corporates. Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan had turned down an invitation to speak at the meet.