Telangana, the fastest growing State in India with good and consistent EODB rankings has many things to ponder post-pandemic as the markets and the world are not going to be as before. The most happening State may have to wait for many things to happen. Since the devastation has been vast, preparing for the future should have a solid foundation right away.
State’s Agriculture sector will scale up new heights if we can optimise our water resources and shift from water-hungry to water-saving crops and this will be the new food bowl of the country. Agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, apiculture, aquaculture (inland water sources) – together have the potential to take their share to 20-22% of SGDP by 2021 March.
Farming of all types should be the focus rather than the farmer when all activities: crop culture; horticulture, silviculture, sericulture, apiculture and aquaculture and animal husbandry that form the new and all-encompassing definition of agriculture, will drive the incentives and growth. The time has also come for us to have a look at the continuance of loan write-off as we have strengthened the incentives and insurance systems to cover the risks involved.
The State, fortunately, is not so susceptible to cyclones and floods as the neighbouring States. Disaster mapping and resource management should be able to take the State to the risk-free horizon if we can build logistics and agriculture market yards consistent with future crop expectations. Farmer Producer Organisations, SHGs and Agricultural Market Yards (AMY) with modification in the AMY Act to digitise AMYs from the start to the finish, for ushering in good governance can witness huge investments with the aid of NABARD in a big way.
Economic growth engines of State of Telangana – the real estate, infra and construction, IT and ITeS are likely to slow down by about 40-50 per cent for at least six months. Tourism, entertainment, event management that have seen phenomenal growth during the last four years will have to wait for almost a year to come back to their glory.
Share of MSMEs in India’s growth is 30% of GDP pre-Covid. When the GDP slows to 1% to 1.5% by 2020-21, the share of micro-enterprises can be debris of small and medium enterprises, with their share coming down to at 0.03%. When we consider Telangana, with around 33000 MSMEs (with 7842 sick or incipient sick), the steady growth can be expected from only 10% of them in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, electronics and defence-oriented industries. Aeronautics will be on slow gear for a year.
Services sector that was the biggest bet all along is bound to recede. The State has already taken the IT, ITeS, AI and ML to levels matching with the Silicon Valley. It has still scope for linear growth in districts other than Hyderabad. However, the State can go slow on its own investments in the area and let this be an auto-propeller.
Mining has seen a good contribution. Chinese used to flock to the districts of Nizamabad, Warangal and Khammam for buying raw granite. This February has seen their lowest footfall and it may have to be a long wait for the original contribution to come back. Telangana should look for new markets in the granite industry. Marketing pitch through select Indian embassies showcasing Telangana strengths in raw granite and the incentives they offer for setting up processing investments and pollution clearances faster than any other country, should be a strategy worthy of pursuit.
The State laid a solid foundation on the welfare schemes and provided the best social security during the last seven years. The time has come for recalibrating the schemes to the most deserving among the poor and evaluate them at the grassroots to ensure that they are delivering the intended benefits in full measure. It has the unique advantage of taking advantage of IT instruments both for delivery and evaluation.
We have the unique advantage of Make-in-Telangana brand for all the food and aqua manufacturing industries. Packing, packaging, logistics should back-end the efforts of agro-industrialisation of the State. A small island like the Philippines produces almost 15% of the world’s packaged fish and fish products and pickles. If we can keep safety standards in place we can replace the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia in agro-based industries. We should develop them in small village clusters and not aim at big clusters. It is good to have a large number of well-integrated small clusters around villages and have well-developed logistics at each mandal level.
HR mapping is extremely important. Every industry would like to optimise on time and resources. Work from home may become the new normal. New wage norms will also come in to being. The focus will be more on leadership challenges and quick deliverables. Job losses will stare at the State.
All the skill development centres should be developed in consonance with the requirements of the agro-industrial and agri-business clusters. Post-school education should be integrated with the requirements of the industry. Telangana will thus be the largest employer as well.
New enterprises should be built on knowledge and skills. Forward integration in markets and backward integration in raw material supply with strong value chains built, the State will bejewel the country.
The State has already built good road infrastructure and laid plans for the logistic parks and dry port. Now is the time to focus on the development of the rest of Telangana and let Hyderabad be on auto-propeller.
Warangal and Adilabad should have airports as soon as possible so that both passenger- may be on a low scale- and goods traffic on a fast scale, so that global markets will be in the reach by the time agro-industrial complexes come to full production – by the end of June 2021.
Effective mobilisation on global funds may be cost-effective beyond FRBM norms for agricultural and allied sectors and for SME’s to be globally competitive. It is time that the State should have its own Small Finance Bank not that it will have the freedom to do as it likes beyond the RBI norms but will have the scope to leverage its priorities and timely deliveries on its call.
When it wants more FDIs and FPIs to come in, it should be strong in MSMEs. The present near 25-26 per cent of sick MSMEs will not certainly be able to attract global investments. Hence Telangana Industrial Health Clinic Ltd needs to be strengthened with better inter-linkages with the existing lenders and NBFCs and greater resources – both by way of grants and loans.
We have the potential of being the Health Capital of the country if we do not loosen our strings on the government health infrastructure and strong medical and paramedical force built during the Covid. We need to take the government health sector infrastructure to global levels.
Maintenance is the most crucial aspect in health infrastructure and not just creation. Hence adequate budget should be provided on an on-going basis. The State Government can introduce a 2 per cent cess on property tax for this purpose exclusively.
Tough times require more tough solutions and we should be part of the solution and not of the problem as Sadhguru mentioned.
(The Author is an economist and risk management specialist)
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