September 12, 2012
Kochi, Kerala

PM’s speech in the event ‘Emerging Kerala 2012’ at Kochi

I am delighted to be once again in this beautiful state of Kerala. The State festival of Onam has just passed and I wish all Keralites, both resident and non-resident, happiness and sustained prosperity in the coming year. Before I proceed further, let me extend a very warm welcome to our foreign dignitaries: members of the diplomatic community, and other distinguished participants from all parts of the world, who are present with us today.

I compliment my friend, the Chief Minister of Kerala Shri Oommen Chandy and the Government of Kerala, the CII and NASSCOM for organizing this mega event Emerging Kerala 2012- Global Connect. I am particularly 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 various walks of life every two years to find ways and means and explore new pathways to make Kerala a power-house of sustained economic and social development.

This confluence of talent, expertise and experience could result in valuable strategic alliances with the potential to open up new and innovative avenues for fulfilling the aspirations of the people. It could lead to new partnerships that could help in building local capacities boosting local employment, adding value to local production and enhancing exports, thereby assisting the State in unleashing the vast latent potential of this creative state of Kerala. I wish this event all success for this year and also for the coming years.

In many ways Kerala is unique among the States of India. Its social and human development indicators are at par with many developed countries. It has abundant natural resources. Its human resources are of a very high quality. Because of its breathtaking natural beauty, rich culture heritage, magnificent cuisine and warm and friendly people, Kerala has carved a niche for itself in the world of tourism, attracting lakhs of domestic and international tourists every year.

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 investment into the State. I am sure that initiatives like the present one would help in building a climate favourable to entrepreneurship in this process.

The people of this wonderful State are adventurous, known to go where opportunity lies to find employment, set up new enterprises and discover new frontiers. Long before globalization became a buzz-word, Kerala was connected to the rest of the world. A rich history of spice trade gave this beautiful State a global orientation many centuries back, even before Vasco-da-Gama landed off the coast of Kozhikode in 1498.

More than 2 million Keralites work outside India, in the Gulf countries and elsewhere. Remittances from Non-resident Keralites contribute significantly to the State’s economy. This constitutes more than 22% of the GDP of the State. The contribution of the Non Resident Keralites can perhaps be said to be the backbone of the economy of Kerala and has been so for the last four decades.

It is therefore heartening to know that the Non Resident Keralites are now making investments in the State in projects like hotels, hospitals and shopping complexes thereby helping to create physical and social infrastructure and new employment opportunities for the people living in the State.

We need to build an enabling environment to facilitate such investment in every possible way and I am very pleased to hear the Honourable Chief Minister promise that that is precisely what he is determined to do. And I hope that this conference would find new pathways of doing so.

Our Government is committed to helping and adding to the initiatives of the State government for building an improved industrial infrastructure in the State. Tomorrow I will be laying the foundation stone for the Kochi Metro Rail Project for linking Aluva to Petta. Our Government has approved the project at a cost of over Rs. 5100 crore. When this project is completed, it would transform the face of the commercial capital of the State by easing the burden of traffic congestion.

During my visit to the State in February, 2011, I inaugurated the country’s first International Container Trans-shipment Terminal at Vallarpadam; and the International Terminal Building at the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport. The terminal at Vallarpadam has been planned to make Kochi one of the major trans-shipment points of the world, transforming it into an economic and logistical hub. There were some issues relating to the operationalization of this terminal on account of cabotage and customs operations. These issues have now been resolved. The Union Cabinet has recently decided to relax the cabotage restrictions particularly for Vallarpadam. I am now confident that our vision for this historic port will materialize soon and a major portion of India’s container traffic would flow through this port.

There are several other projects that our UPA government has approved for Kerala in the last few years. I inaugurated the Indian Naval Academy at Ezhimala in 2009. The Brahmos Aerospace, Thiruvananthapuram was commissioned in 2007. A Rail Coach Factory has been announced for Palakkad. A mega central sector project for setting up of Liquid Natural Gas Regasification Terminal at Puthuvypeen in Cochin Post Trust is under implementation. When commissioned, it will improve the availability of natural gas for power, fisheries, and food processing industries in the State.

The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and the Indian Institute of Space Technology, which our UPA government has set up, are shaping into institutions of excellence. We have also set up the Central University in Kasargod. The demand for establishing an IIT in this state is under serious consideration of our Government.

The UPA government has encouraged and actively supported the efforts of Kerala to grow into a major investment hub. We will continue to do so. We would like the State to embark on a path of people-focused inclusive and sustainable development, driven by knowledge and innovation, and mindful of the environmental concerns.

Labour intensive light manufacturing has a strong comparative advantage in this State and all assistance needs to be given to the small and micro business enterprises. I appreciate that the State government under the distinguished leadership of Shri Oomen Chandy is fully alive to the need for rapidly building up infrastructure, which is so essential for rapid industrial growth.

I would urge the State government to derive maximum possible benefit from initiatives of the Central Government especially the National Skill Development Mission. This would go a long way in tapping the energies of Kerala's educated manpower.

I have no doubt in my mind that Kerala will be able to capitalize on its immense resources to emerge stronger as an important investment destination in our country. I wish the State government and its people all success in their endeavours for building a modern, industrialised and prosperous Kerala. With these words, I have great pleasure in inaugurating the ‘Emerging Kerala-2012-Global Connect’.

Thank you. Jai Hind.