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A blueprint for the future

R SESHASAYEE Vice Chairman, Ashok Leyland (AL), talks about four major factors that would drive industry, markets and society.

R SESHASAYEE Vice Chairman, Ashok Leyland (AL), talks about four major factors that would drive industry, markets and society.

Driver 1: Future is in digitisation

The future is going to be heavily influenced by digitisation. To ensue that it does not turn out to be disruptive, we must aggressively look at the opportunities and get prepared for it. Digital India is easier to happen at the state level and Tamil Nadu is much more ready as a state to embrace it than most others.
This change will be driven by the quality and extent of education and skills. From the HDI point of view, Tamil Nadu is in the top quartile leading in social indicators like literacy, health, etc. This places us at the vanguard to take forward the digital revolution. The key is broadband penetration and connectivity. This will require massive private investment. For B2B connectivity government support may not be needed but G2C will require government intervention. Provision of all government information and services to the entire population will be an exciting change that would prepare us for the future.

Tamil Nadu tops with 38 lakh Internet subscribers. It has the highest wireless telephone density among the large states. Together these provide an opportunity to offer smart services through mobile phones.

Driver 2: March to the future is through urbanisation

We can learn from history on how cities were planned for the future, on how development has brought up ripple effects and how the ripple effect had led to a ribbon effect, connecting nearby places. We need planned urbanisation and direct migrants to nearby urban centres, offering them the right kind of livelihood and basic infrastructure. By providing connectivity between the cities and making them large commercial centres, we can make urbanisation a great opportunity.

FACT FILE: Tamil Nadu is the top urban state with 48.45 per cent of its population living in urban areas. From 34 per cent in 1991 the extent of urbanisation has risen to 48 per cent. By 2030, this is expected to reach 67 per cent.

Driver 3: Future is services

In the coming years one will see lot more of automation and robotics. As GDP grows globally, demand for services will explode-Tamil Nadu has a clear advantage to be a global service hub. We have to envision ourselves as an efficient state for providing a variety of services across the globe-for accounting, healthcare and information-thereby pushing global companies to come and set shop in the state. Already a basic level of activity is happening: we have the World Bank and large MNCs running their accounting services here.

FACT FILE: In the last 10 years, the share of primary sector in GSDP declined to 7.76 per cent in 2013-14 from 11.87 per cent in 2004-05; the share of the secondary sector has been hovering in a range between 28 and 31 per cent and the share of the tertiary sector has expanded to 63.70 per cent from 57.23 per cent. Thus, the state economy has decisively become services-led.

Driver 4: The ability to innovate and continually push knowledge frontiers...

People coming out with new ideas to solve problems will drive the future. This will require an academic environment like Stanford and Silicon Valley. We need an ecosystem to develop these and to focus on innovation. In the current Internet world it is the idea that is being valued. The state should endeavour to become the crucible for ideas. Not just for business, but also science, in solving human problems, nurturing an academic infrastructure, in innovation for and in attracting the brightest talent to come and innovate.

FACT FILE: The IIT-Madras, to foster research and innovation, has developed the IITM Research Park. It is a place where industrial problems are solved by involving the best of brains from IIT-M. The research park’s first building is filled to capacity. With Saint Gobain as the anchor company, the second building is also becoming operational.
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