Read the article from Tripura Times portal in the link below or from the details furnished after that link.
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Original manuscript of the article is as follows-
A Perspective on Metamorphosing Tripura into an Investors Paradise
Dr. Manishankar Chakraborty
International Management Trainer, Faculty and Consultant
Tripura is having geographical constraints along with connectivity issues, although, the second issue has been resolved to a very large extent with railways reaching the state capital. In addition to the connectivity developed through neighboring Bangladesh provides a new lifeline. On the positive side, the emergence of the revamped primary, secondary and tertiary education sector has provided the employers with loads of human capital to choose from. But, a realistic question to ask, are these enough for the investors to get attracted to a place which has not been known historically to be a great place for manufacturing or even services? Can the state be a destination, which can be local powerhouse in production and also a connector for exporting them nationally and even globally? However, the historical perspective can definitely be changed with the transportation sector getting a facelift, and the fact that there is a discussion going on to connect the state with the ASEAN region in the near future. Bangladesh, for one is not a bad proposition to start with, as one can see how Bangladeshi companies like Pran has spread their tentacles around the market of Tripura! Removing red tapes, providing single window clearances, offering tax holidays, organizing trade unions in a systematic manner which has a win-win proposition for both the employee and the employer, can go a long way in making Tripura, an investor’s paradise.
Tripura needs to think out of the box, so as to metamorphose into an attractive business destination. The first and foremost thing that ought to be realized is the inherent strength that can be leveraged vis-à-vis various sectors. This can rope in investments from all across India and even globally. The following is an unstructured SWOT analysis covering few of the sectors, conducted by yours truly, that can be discussed by the August audience of readers. Then in unison, all can make necessary orientations in reviving Tripura’s standing as a business destination.
- Manufacturing– Looks practically impossible, as Tripura lacks proper connectivity, unless of course Bangladesh can have a broad gauge connecting with Kolkata or the ports in Bangladesh offers access to national and global markets. Trained manpower could be another handicap as TIT, NIT and ICFAI would need more support in terms of infrastructure to provide quality talent in hordes for the investors to depend on. The absence of a shop-floor oriented mindset among the local populace, might be another reason, however, with government undertakings like ONGC, TNGC it might provide a ray of hope.
- Higher Education– This sector looks an attractive one, however if one intends to call national or global edupreneurs, there is a need to provide a free hand to the investors in setting up private universities by bringing in state legislations. ICFAI is a case in point. The presence of Higher Educational Institutes of all the disciplines, along with the quality manpower, that are being groomed from time immemorial, Tripura can therefore, definitely build on its existing core competence. Strong regulatory measures, in addition to an ecosystem, encouraging entrepreneurship and employment is a necessity to rope in investors in the sector. An HEI does not want to set-up shop without their end product getting placed in big numbers within the state. Even the local business tycoons can think of venturing into a sunrise industry, which is economically lucrative and socially respectable.
- Healthcare- This is another sector which has promise, provided the necessary amendments are made at the regulatory level, in addition to the support provided by the government and other major stakeholders. ILS hospital has reversed the trend to a very large extent where many of the healthcare related cases which were earlier getting exported to other states, are now being treated at the first corporate hospital of the state. But, if one is willing to make Tripura a destination for healthcare, where, it can attract patients from North East and Bangladesh, the state government should contemplate revamping the public health sector, in addition to roping in few more corporate hospital to provide a competitive environment to ILS. The availability of doctors and paramedical staff, courtesy the medical and paramedical colleges would only add to the positives, Tripura can boast of. However, the quality of education in the medical and paramedical colleges has to improve by leaps and bounds with research taking center stage.
- Tourism- Tripura as an attractive destination for tourism is being heard from all quarters. While it sounds good for the domestic audience of the state, in order to rope in people from other states, of even from neighboring Bangladesh, Tripura has to provide services which are not available in the region. Does it mean, eco-tourism, if yes, how is Tripura going to score over other Northeastern peers in that plank? Can Tripura consider a Kerala kind of model where nature is leveraged to the hilt? Does the state have so many Unique Selling Propositions on those lines? Can Tripura model itself on the lines of Shillong or even Goa, which means there has to be a radical change in the mindset of the government and the people? Can Tripura position itself as a medical tourism center, needs to be thought about along with point three of this article? How can one attract the budget hotel chains to invest in the state, especially when the luxury chains would be reluctant? Ginger is a case in point. That would however, depend on the environment created to attract consumers, either from the leisure or business segments, for which Tripura needs another supporting sector on which tourism can hinge on. Co-marketing with the aviation companies, railways and other logistics and transportation sector can also supplement this sector. Festival based tourism could be another area, where Tripura can create its own USP, as the diverse state residents provides a whole lot of festivities, all around the year.
- Financial and Insurance Services – This is another area, which has potential at least for the sector to consider local offices with operations covering the North East, even though Assam has a better standing in terms of locational advantage. The sectors like health and non-life insurance, mutual funds, to name a few are still in the nascent stages, barring a few pockets which has been covered by the local intermediaries. In order to increase the penetration in this sector, which is mandatory for the consumers of the state, the government can frame attractive policies to entice new investors. Even if the companies does not come down to the state, leading channel partners of corporate behemoths investing, could be a first step towards a bigger picture.
- Research and Development– Tripura can definitely be considered for research and developmental related investments related to healthcare, agriculture, horticulture, environment with biodiversity and human diversity as the fulcrum. The availability of the Higher Educational Sector, which can provide a supporting role can only add up to the opportunities, for the national or even the global players, who are willing to chip in with their resources. Tea, oranges, pineapples, rubber are already produced and are also exported in a feeble manner, however with a little more of expertise in upgrading the qualities, bringing in hybrids, and active marketing support, the state run companies can do wonders to their abilities and resources.
- Handicrafts, Handlooms- It is one of the inherent strength, but still the state loses out to its peers from the North Eastern region or even from the southern part of India, especially because, it lacks a well thought out strategy from a long term perspective. Roping in investors by allowing them purchase stakes in state government entities or even creating Public-Private-Partnership models on these sectors, can not only pool in the resources and fill the exchequer, but also provide platforms to manufacture and market the produce from a national and global perspective. This would also transform the MSME sector of handicrafts and handlooms, which in spite of being unique, misses out in terms of competitiveness and capital.
- Transportation and logistics- Can Tripura consider it to be local transportation and logistics hub? Well, going by the feasibility in terms of the geographical constraint, it stands a chance of losing out to Assam, unless of course, it edges out the neighboring state, on the basis of the connectivity through Bangladesh to rest of Indian and ASEAN at a later date. However, the first step towards that direction would be to improve the dilapidated state and national highways of Tripura. The poorly managed state and national highways can be a sore point from an investor’s perspective.
- Trading- Tripura definitely can be an excellent destination for trading from the regional perspective. For that to happen, it is imperative to set up infrastructure, where the state can be the epicenter of trading, devoid of any man-made disasters and catastrophes. It would also call for a strong will and commitment on the part of the state government.
The aforementioned thoughts were open and loud and a debate or analysis from professionals of different walks of life would be a welcome step. However, the first tender step needs to be taken by the government by initiating the momentum through some reforms that would send a strong signal to many wannabe investors of the region, as well as the nation. The society on their part need to change their mindset from being one which is satisfied with too little, to that of aplenty through sheer hard work and dedication. The typical 10-5 mindset of the working class has to be abolished with an objective to achieve individual success in line with that of the state. Unless these basic reforms are made, it would be insurmountable for the state to rope in investors and transform the state into an investor paradise. It’s high time for all Tripuraites to chip in, wherever, they are!
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