Why CM Kamal Nath faces a difficult task in pumping life into Madhya Pradesh's commerce and industry

The way ahead is to make the shift from agriculture to commerce and industry.

 |  2-minute read |   26-01-2019
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Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos this week on what was his first trip overseas after assuming office. Nath has been a regular attendee for years. The purpose of this visit, besides of course keeping abreast of economic developments across the world, is to pump life into MP’s commerce and industry.

The task ahead for Nath is daunting, to say the least. The state is not known for its industry. Commerce is not a prominent strain in the DNA of the average Madhya Pradeshi. Sons of the soil have not really shown a favourable disposition towards commercial activity. Those pursuing it have not registered exponential growth. In contrast to neighbouring Gujarat, where there are numerous examples of average residents making it big in business, MP has few such stories. Is this owing to a lack of opportunity? Perhaps not.

While it is true that successive state governments have not done much to promote MP’s commerce or industry, there is a reason other than plain incompetence behind it. Agriculture is the mainstay of MP’s economy.

So, a state government cannot give the impression of being pro-business, especially if it comes at the cost of agriculture, just like a government cannot appear to be against commerce in Gujarat. While practicing agriculture, the MP farmer has not done too badly for himself. He may not be as enterprising or industrious as his counterpart in Punjab, but in the last few years, by adopting best practices from Punjab and Haryana, he has shown he is a quick learner.

kamal1_012619101937.jpgThe Congress leader understands that prosperity in the state cannot be ensured through agriculture alone. (Photo: PTI)

CM Nath understands this political compulsion of not pitting business against agriculture which is why the first decision by his government was to write off farm loans. He has pointed out a commercial angle to the decision, such that loan write-offs, when replaced with fresh cash inflows in farmers’ accounts, will lead to local spending spurring the state’s economy.

However, he also understands that prosperity in the state cannot be ensured through agriculture alone, which will at best remain subsistence-based given the present land-holding pattern. The way ahead is to make the shift from agriculture to commerce and industry, but the challenge is to make this transition in the most painless way.

The CM knows that there is competitiveness involved in attracting industrial investment between various states and MP will have to offer something over and above what other states have to offer. Nath got them to his constituency, Chhindwara by ensuring a pro-investment atmosphere and bringing in the necessary trust. However, making the shift effortlessly for the workforce is as important as attracting investment.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

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Rahul Noronha Rahul Noronha

The writer is Associate Editor, India Today.

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