Why set up industries, when we have cows? : Tripura CM Biplab Deb
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb, who in the recent past has been creating ripples with his ‘brilliant’ statements, has shot a fresh salvo when on sunday speaking in a meeting of one of the farmers’ associations he said that cows are enough to solve the unemployment situation in the state, and there is no need for industrial development. Deb announced that the state government will be launching a scheme to distribute cows among 5000 families in order to combat malnutrition and generate employment in the state. The farmers would be given cows by facilitating bank loans for them and interests on such loans will be paid by the state government.
Deb was participating in the executive committee meeting of Tripura Pradesh Krishak Morcha.
Biplab, who had earlier insisted on rearing cows as means of employment for the youth, said that unlike setting up big industries in which “one has to invest Rs 10,000 crore for employing 2000 people”, giving 10,000 cows to 5,000 families will help people start earning in “6 months”.
In a press statement issued by the CM’s office, Deb was quoted as saying “This project will help to solve unemployment in the state to some extent. It will go a long way in fulfilling demand for milk in the state. We shall be able to combat malnutrition by it as well. ”
Interestingly in a report recently published by the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, the Tripura government led by Deb has argued that the private investment is necessary for tackling the unemployment situation in the state. Unemployment was one of the main issues in the last assembly elections in the state. In March 2016, nearly 18.7% of the state’s population of 3.7 million (2011 census) were unemployed, according to the state’s economic survey 2015-16. A large chunk of the educated job-seekers are moving out of Tripura and going to Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai and Kolkata in search of better job avenues.
In Tripura, growth in number of workers, after adjusting for natural population growth, was recorded at nearly 12% between 2001 and 2011. This is six times the national average of a mere 2%, and far ahead of all so called advanced or rich states like Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra and Haryana. It is also ahead of all the regional neighbors, except Nagaland which shows a higher growth in number of workers because of a statistical reason only – its population has actually fallen in the past decade and so growth in workers becomes high.
The erstwhile Left Front government tried to tackle the situation by relying on increasing the state investment within the constraints which the current finance regime puts on the state governments to chart out any alternative trajectory. Large, medium and small industrial units doubled in the state in the past decade, with a consequent increase in industrial employment. The number of factories covered under the Annual Survey of Industries (ASI) of the Government of India increased by 99% compared to an all-India average increase of 69% between 2004-05 and 2015-16. Number of workers employed in these units increased by 90% in Tripura for the same period compared to 63% increase at the country level. This pace of growth is more than that in many of the industrial states of the country and those experiencing recent mining led growth.
Despite not having a traditional industrial base, virtually no mineral resources, and it’s very remote location far from sources of raw materials and users of industrial goods, Tripura has forged a path forward in industrialization due to some imaginative policies of the Left Front government. Over the years, it has received no help from the Central govt. through siting of public sector units, funds or concessions for industrial promotion and investment openings. Apart from the recent setting up of natural gas extraction and power generation units, successive governments at the Centre largely neglected Tripura. Statewide development of infrastructure including power, roads and telecommunications has spurred this industrial growth. Industrial parks (5) and estates (4) were set up. Various subsidies and incentives were also being provided by the government.
Other measures by the LF government included time bound clearance for proposals, promotion of entrepreneurship among youth, promotion of self-employment, etc. In a unique initiative, local resources like rubber, bamboo, tea, fruits and vegetables, and natural gas were given priority by designating these as ‘thrust sectors’. Small growers of rubber and tea were organized for better commercial viability and value addition. International trade with Bangladesh was boosted from just Rs.4.12 crore in 1995-96 to Rs.305 crore in 2016-17. Eight notified Land Custom Stations (LCS) and two Border Haats were set up to facilitate this trade.
BJP in its vision document for the state released before the last assembly elections had announced plans of massive investment to boost industrial development. Biplab Deb’s words and deeds are enough for everyone to see the empty promises that they were.