If you thought that the state is about governance on a hit and run mode, you are wrong. Tamil Nadu, for one, has set for itself an impressive Vision 2023 document that’s clearly B-HAG: big, hairy, audacious, goals.
Consider this for starters.
The State’s per capita real income in 2023 will be Rs 450,000 at 2013 prices. That is, your income that year can buy what Rs 450,000 can buy today. Also, the State will attain a high standard of social development, with Human Development Index (HDI) in line with those of developed countries. There will be high quality infrastructure, comparable with the best in the world. Is all this possible? For sure,it calls for effort to make this giant leap of faith that would take the State into the big league of developed regions of the world.
The Vision Document has TEN themes:
1. Economic prosperity: Tamil Nadu will increase its per capita income (at current prices) six’ fold to Rs. 450,000 in 2023, in line with per capita income of upper middle income (UMI) countries. This will call for GSDP growth rates to touch 11 per cent per annum. This is not impossible considering that China has grown at that pace and so have Maharashtra and Gujarat.
2. Inclusive growth: The growth will be secular and will percolate to every strata of society. The State will channel considerable resources to ensure that Tamil Nadu becomes poverty-free, which means that no person is deprived of food, clothing, shelter and employment commensurate with his capabilities.
3. Health for all: By 2023 Tamil Nadu will become the top state in terms of social indicators and will reach the levels attained by developed countries in human development by ensuring universal access to health facilities.
4. World-class infrastructure: Historically, spending on infrastructure (power, water and sanitation, transportation, irrigation, ports, airports, connectivity, housing, healthcare and education) development in Tamil Nadu has been 4-5 per cent of GSDP, while we now need to increase it to 10 per cent from 2015 onwards and to 11.5 per cent from 2019 onwards. This calls for substantial outlays and significant regulatory reforms. The total investment to enable this is estimated at Rs 15 lakh crore. Here’s what’s contemplated across different sectors:
Water & sanitation: Water supply 24x7, access to safe sanitation including open defecation - free environment.
Housing: 25 lakh affordable houses to be constructed to create hut-free villages and slum-free cities.
Healthcare: Provision of quality healthcare facilities to all.
Education: Achieve universal secondary education and increase enrolment in colleges to over 50 per cent.
Roads: 2000 km of 6-8 lane expressways, 5000 km of 4 lane highways; all highways to have double lanes.
Ports: add 150 million tonnes to capacity.
Railways: Areas with population of over 500,000 will be connected with high-speed rail corridors.
Airport: Will handle 80 million passengers per annum.
Telecommunication: Every village will have broadband connectivity.
Urban transport: Putting in place a system of integrated multimodal urban transport.
5. Healthy investment climate: Much of the investment has to come from the private sector. Vision 2023 envisages Tamil Nadu becoming one of the top three investment destinations in Asia, and the most attractive state in India. The government will achieve this through efficient and responsive governance and not by extending tax concessions. This vision would benchmark Tamil Nadu with countries such as South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia, which are ranked 8, 17 and 18 respectively in the world.
6. Knowledge hub and innovation capital: For growing GSDP at 11 per cent per annum, all three sectors of the economy namely, agriculture, manufacturing and services, need to grow at a rapid clip. agriculture by 5 per cent, manufacturing by 14 per cent and service sector by 11 per cent is the target. Innovation is key to achieving such ambitious growth rates and Tamil Nadu envisions becoming the “Knowledge Capital” and “Innovation Hub” of India. This requires creating an atmosphere that nurtures innovation. Some enabling conditions are:
a. Infrastructure that increases access to information universally.
b. Every youth is sufficiently skilled at his job.
c. A knowledge ecosystem: including availability of universities, research outfits and business organisations whose success depends on how information translates to knowledge.
d. Establish ten centres of excellence that are at the cutting edge in their respective domains. These include automotive, solar technology, biotechnology, agricultural practices, water conservation, construction, life style diseases, aerospace, basic sciences and nano-technologies.
e. A regime that incentivises creation of new knowledge and entrepreneurship to use that knowledge.
f. An environment conducive for protecting IPR and celebrating success in innovations.
g. An innovation fund that rewards innovation by students, businesses, academic institutions and others.
7. Create conducive environment for human development: This involves providing opportunities for skill upgrades and enhancing employability.
8. Nurturing a rich heritage: To preserve and improve the quality of the environment is a must. This includes increasing forest cover, conserving groundwater and rivers, protection of the coastal zones, conservation of the zoological and botanical diversity of the state and protection of soil.
9. Protecting against vulnerability: Several steps to reduce the vulnerability of the state has to be taken. Like:
a. Protection of coastal districts from cyclonic storms and flooding .
b. Preparation of disaster management plans at all levels including preparedness of medical facilities and security for handling emergencies.
c. Improving the fiscal position of the state to build a buffer for contingencies.
10. Improving governance: Successful implementation of Vision 2023 will not happen in the ‘business as usual’ mode. The few changes needed in the role and functions of government are:
a. Government should move from service delivery to facilitation and oversight of private sector activity.
b. Development of technical and administrative capabilities to meet 21st century challenges.
c. Segregation of planning, service delivery and regulation functions within the government set-up. While service delivery is generally amenable to competition, planning and regulation are best retained in the public domain.
Vision 2023 identifies TEN thrust areas for the achievement of the long-term goals.
1. Increasing the share of manufacturing
Given the strong accent to accelerate growth in overall GSDP and per capita incomes, it is imperative that all the three sectors grow at high rates.
2. Making SMEs vibrant
A highly developed manufacturing sector needs a dynamic SME sector, which forms the base for providing essential goods and services. Hence the need to boost the creation of several SME clusters across the state.
3. Making Tamil Nadu the knowledge capital
Tamil Nadu is neither a low cost destination nor does it enjoy a favourable demographic profile. So, it is imperative for the State to enhance its factor productivity significantly by marrying innovation into their activities. This calls for action along the following lines:
a. Skilling another 20 million by 2023.
b. Establishing best-in-class institutions as centres of excellence in various fields.
c. Fostering an institutional structure that will encourage free movement of people.
4. Specialisation in service offerings
Tamil Nadu shall strive to be world class in a few areas, which will make ‘Tamil Nadu’ a brand of excellence and enable it to stand apart in a crowded and noisy world. The government will aggressively position Tamil Nadu as a global leader in the following activities:
a. Back-office capital of the world: The State shall attract large scale back-offices for knowledge- intensive businesses such as banks, insurance companies, financial services companies, consultancies, engineering, accounting, architecture, law firms, media, etc.
b. Healthcare capital of South Asia: Tamil Nadu will aggressively position itself as the medical tourism destination of South Asia.
c. Audio and video production and post-production: Chennai is the leader in various post-production processing activities in movies. This facility can be extended to Hollywood.
5. Thrust on skill development
Vision 2023 envisages training and skilling 20 million over the next 11 years. This will include 15 million people entering the job market and 5 million who are already part of the working population.
6. Improving agricultural productivity
Agriculture provides subsistence for 40 per cent of Tamil Nadu’s population and contributes to about 13 per cent of the GSDP. Vision 2023 has a three-pronged strategy covering:
i) Improving productivity by introducing scientific agricultural methods and building an institutional network to support it.
ii) Ensuring timely irrigation by intelligent use of available water.
iii) Developing suitable post-harvest infrastructure to maximise the benefits of value addition and timely marketing of produce.
7. Transforming ten cities into world class cities
Vision 2023 envisages developing ten world class cities (essentially existing towns whose infrastructure will include access to 24x7 water supply, efficient mass transit systems while making them open-defecation free and garbage-free), which will become the engines for economic growth, thereby facilitating balanced regional development.
8. Thrust on social welfare programmes
The State was the first in India to introduce the mid-day meal scheme for school children, an old age pension scheme and many other welfare measures to its credit. Vision 2023 envisages that the disadvantaged sections will be equipped to take advantage of the benefits of the economic growth.
9. Signature projects
Tamil Nadu envisages a few large infrastructure projects, which would open up possibilities of rapid growth. Some of the signature projects are:
i. World class centres of excellence in 10 areas
ii. Two medical cities
iii. Doubling water storage capacity
iv. High speed broadband connectivity for every village
v. Two power projects of cumulative 20,000 MW capacity
vi. Gas grid connecting ten large cities
vii. 2000 km of 6/8 lane highways
viii. High speed rail connecting Chennai - Coimbatore - Madurai – Kanyakumari
ix. Development of industrial corridors
x. Three greenfield ports and 5 minor ports with total cargo handling capacity of 150 million tpa.
xi. Greenfield airport near Chennai
10. Encourage PPP in infrastructure projects
The total investment requirement for infrastructure over the 11 year period is estimated at Rs 1,500,000 crore. A substantial portion of the financing for infrastructure has to be from non-governmental sources. Under the PPP mode, the government will play the role of a change agent and will originate infrastructure projects and will focus on regulation and overall governance.
This is an extremely ambitious vision, which is how visions ought to be. If executed with elan it would change the landscape of Tamil Nadu and make it a model state for others to emulate.