Make in Odisha, 2018, the second edition of state’s showcase business event, got off to a grand start in the state capital with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik doing the honours at the inaugural ceremony. If Patnaik, a great visionary in his own right, was the man in focus all the credit for the successful organisation of the event should go to his private secretary and state’s smartest bureaucrat, V.K. Pandian.
A livewire, this IAS officer worked tirelessly behind the scenes ensuring that that everything went fine as the event, which has drawn top industrialists of the country to the state, was a prestige issue for the government. He marshalled his resources well directing officials and personally supervising preparations. He was one of the key persons who conceptualised how to showcase the state’s business potential and its rich cultural heritage before the world during the conclave for which Japan is the country partner.
Inaugurating the conclave in the presence of Japanese ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu, Naveen asked the industrialists to explore the opportunities the state offers and have a look at Odisha’s growth trajectory. A robot elegantly wrapped in a Samabalpuri saree presented the scissor to the chief minister to cut the ribbon as the conclave was declared open.“I welcome you to discover the enormous business and growth opportunities that the state offers, and all-round development that the state has seen in the past two decades,” Naveen said.
The first Make in Odisha Conclave, another feather in Pandian’s cap, was held in 2016 with the state receiving nearly Rs 2 lakh crore worth investment proposals. Earlier during his meeting with the national executive committee members of the FICCI, Naveen said “Odisha is emerging as manufacturing hub of the East, and we are incessantly working towards developing it as a global hub for the industries in certain focus sectors. I am pleased to inform you that the average time taken for project approvals in state has reduced to an average 20 days.”
He said, “The state has set a Vision 2025 for industrial growth in six focus sectors. I would urge the FICCI to partner with the state government departments in successful implementation of our various initiatives.”
Captains of Indian industry responded to Naveen’s invitation to be partners in the transformational journey of the state and pledged to invest billions here.
The conclave saw a flow of investment assurances to the state from doyens of Indian industry. All the major industrial houses of the country, including Reliance, Aditya Birla and Jindal group, announced to invest in the state and be a part of its phenomenal growth.
Reliance Group chairman Mukesh Ambani said: “Odisha has been growing at 8% per annum, higher than the national average. Odisha is fast becoming an ideal investment destination. Reliance has already invested over 6,000 crores in Odisha. And today I am committing to invest an additional 3,000 crore in the next three years in our various businesses in Odisha.”
Similarly, Birla group chief KM Birla announced to invest two billion dollars in the state. “We have a large-scale business here in the state. We have plans to invest around another two billion dollars in the state in next two years,” said Birla.
The Tata group, which has a significant presence in the state, also announced investments of another Rs 25,000 crore in its Kalinga Nagar steel plant. Similarly, JSPL announced ramping up its investment from Rs 45,000 crore to Rs 100,000 crore by 2030. Although JSW chief Sajjan Jindal did not spell out the exact amount the company would invest in the state, he made it clear that it would be a substantial amount. The company would set up a modern greenfield steel plant in the Pardeep area. SAIL chief Anil Kumar Choudhary announced that his company would invest Rs.41000 crores in the state in the next few years.
Speaking on the occasion, Naveen showcased Odisha’s business potential, saying: “Today I also look back to the first Make in Odisha Conclave in 2016 which was a huge success with 124 investment intents, worth more than Rs 2 lakh crore and offering employment opportunities for above one lakh people. You will be glad to know that about two-third of these projects are in various stages of implementation.”
Stating that Odisha is today the Aluminum capital of South Asia and Steel hub of India, Naveen said, “With a view to giving further impetus to certain key manufacturing sectors, we have laid down the Odisha Industrial Development Plan: Vision 2025 with a target of attracting investment of
Rs 2,50,000 Crore and creation of 30 lakh job opportunities in six identified focus sectors by 2025.”
The Chief Minister also touched upon the Skill Odisha mission to build an iconic global brand and the launch of a progressive Aerospace and Defence Manufacturing Policy by his government in the recent past.
He said, “We have built a world-class infrastructure – a 18-storeyed World Skill Centre – in Bhubaneswar. Odisha Skill Development Authority shall manage the World Skill Centre with technical support from ITEES, Singapore.”
Naveen said this Centre will function as the centralised hub with all 71 government ITIs as spokes for implementation of the Odisha Skill Development Project – an ambitious Rs 1400 crore project. More than 1,50,000 trainers and trainees will be trained in the next four years under this project.”
Naveen also touched upon his government’s biotechnology policy and said the government is setting up a Greenfield Electronics Manufacturing Cluster and developing other facilities to provide an enabling environment to support electronics manufacturing industries. “Odisha is the first State to rope in TiE, Silicon Valley, USA for investment in ESDM and IT sector,” he said.
Naveen reminded all those present that the theme of Make in Odisha conclave is “ I am Odisha,” which celebrates all the successes of Odisha and its people.
Many political observers in the state have noted that the smooth organisation of the conclave is a result of Pandian’s efficiency. He has proved without doubt his organisational skills and his ability to deliver the goods. Even the display boards have been strategically designed. One of them reads: “My chrome is used in more than half of the shaving blades worldwide.” Another says that Odisha has more than 1.25 lakh acres of land bank for industrial development.
The conclave, managed by him for all practical purposes, showcases how Bhubaneswar ranks among the 20 top smart cities in the world and third-best city for doing business in India (World Bank). It has 1,78,404 technical manpower graduating every year from 956 training institutions in Odisha.
Display boards have also been put up at the venue carrying the messages of stalwarts of Indian industry. “Reliance is privileged to be one of the largest investors in the state. Our investment in Odisha for development of digital infrastructure and services have opened new avenues for growth for hi-tech industries in the state,” says Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani.
Vedanta Resources chairman Anil Agarwal in his message mentioned about Odisha’s well-developed network. Chairman of Aditya Birla group, KM Biral said, “The scale and diversity of investments in Odisha speaks volumes about how the state is viewed by the industries as a top investment destination.”
Pandian’s touch can also be seen in the set of activities planned to acquaint the delegates with the heritage of the state. For example, there was a five-kilometre coastal run along the serene coast of the state from Konark Temple to Ramachandi boat club along Chandrabhaga beach. More than 200 participants, including various businesspersons, government officials and students, took part in this run with three winners among men and women respectively.
The participants got a chance to witness the centuries-old heritage of Bhubaneswar’s Old Town during the walk. It took the participants through history, showcasing ancient and historically significant temples such as Mukteswar Temple, Parasurameswar Temple, Bindusagar Lake, Anant Vasudev Temple and its kitchen, apart from the Art Vision Academy. The walk through Ekamra Kshetra showcased the participants the old times in Odisha and made them witness the splendid temples of Bhubaneswar culminating in a stroll through the medicinal plants of Ekamravan. An Odissi dance performance also mesmerized the audience.
People interested in sports were given a chance to showcase their skills in a golf tournament at the Bhubaneswar Golf Club. About 32 participants enjoyed golf along with beautiful views of a wooded hillock and adjoining forest.
For the participants interested in Odia arts, tradition and culture there was a tour of Kala Bhoomi, the crafts museum of Odisha displaying the multifaceted rich and vibrant traditions of handlooms and handicrafts of the state. The participants were able to immerse themselves in the vibrant galleries depicting the evolution of the handwoven fabrics and handicrafts of the state. A live pottery workshop and musical performance engaged the participants at the museum.
It required the genius of Pandian to execute such a show on such a grand scale. No wonder he is the chief minister’s most trusted lieutenant.