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Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu

Thanthi TV telecast over four days the remarkable changes taking place in Andhra Pradesh. The state has been ranked No. 1 on the ease of doing business. The TV explained AP’s extensive resort to information technology in making available a broad range of services through the net. 

AP initiated this change over two decades ago. N T Rama Rao as Chief Minister invited IT specialists to reach out to districts and villages. Successor Chandrababu Naidu refined and expanded this manifold. The Hitec City was conceived and built to catch up with Karnataka. Naidu’s close involvement with L&T Construction and its then chief A Ramakrishna was a big game changer: There was a remarkable improvement in the infrastructure of Hyderabad. The setting up of the Construction Academy helped in the emergence of a large number of construction companies in quick time. Simultaneously there was focus on the pharma sector. Like Modi, Naidu also established a strong rapport with business leaders. He also used effectively the rapport with the NDA government that won the state special favours from the Centre. 

Well-endowed with two perennial rivers, the Godavari and Krishna, the state also excelled in agriculture. The attention paid to irrigation has helped the state record gratifying performances in agriculture. Himself deeply involved in the agricultural sector and the allied sector of milk production, Naidu has been ensuring ideal conditions for the growth of the farm sector. 

Importantly, Naidu believes in updating his knowledge by frequent visits to foreign countries. He uses these visits to bring fresh investments. The recent conquest is,  AP  winning the Korean auto manufacturer, Kia Motors, to set up a three lakh car production facility at Anantapur. Kia, part of the Hyundai group, is bound to bring along a large number of component manufacturers as did Hyundai two decades ago that transformed Irungattukottai near Chennai into a vibrant and healthy auto hub. Hyundai heralded mass manufacture of cars in Tamil Nadu and today produces over 600,000 cars with exports of around 200,000. 

The Kia plant has been under planning for quite some time. The inaccessibility of the AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa, her notoriety for corruption and the absence of an empowered second line of ministers and bureaucrats, to have led to the lack of effective initiatives to interact with prospective investors. 

Of course, there is the logic of the company deciding to set  of facility in another state. The not-very-pleasant experience of the violent strike by workers of Maruti in Haryana which has its two large plants in proximity in Gurugram and Manesar, must also have weighed. But logistics wise locating it in the interior south close to Chennai has both positive and negative factors. 

Naidu has visited the Silicon Valley as part of his recent trip to the US. Andhrites form the most prosperous and influential section of the Indian diaspora in the US. Apollo Hospitals, Amara Raja Batteries, Sri City and several other enterprises in Hyderabad are excellent examples of this diaspora bringing significant investments and technology to India. Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh, recently made a minister, studied at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg and is also familiar with the potential of Andhra NRIs’ prowess. 

The ambitious plan of constructing the new capital of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravathi on the lines of Singapore and the remarkable success made in using IT for an efficient and effective administration are excellent models for other states to emulate. 

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