The covid-19 pandemic has hit the industrial sector across India, but Telangana IT minister K.T. Rama Rao feels there could be a silver lining in the crisis. KTR, as he is known in political circles, said if electronics and textile companies move away from China in the coming months, the Telangana government could work internally to draw potential investors to the state. Edited excerpts of an interview:
Do you think some manufacturing companies will move away from China, once the crisis eases?
I think the dependence on China is something that every manufacturing company is definitely reviewing and revisiting. For instance, we saw what the Japanese and Korean premiers have said with respect to their companies moving away from China. So in light of all that what we should, as a country, be thinking is that in any adversity there are opportunities.
The silver lining in this crisis is that it will throw up potential opportunities for India to grab. For instance, textile as a sector is heavily focussed and concentrated in China. Likewise a lot of electronic manufacturing happens in China and a lot of it will move away. So India has a brilliant opportunity to seize. Likewise, for the life sciences industry. Fortunately for us, in all these three sectors, Telangana is poised very well.
Have any companies enquired about setting up shop in Telangana?
Anybody who is looking at India, will look at more progressive states like us. We are working internally and engaging with potential investors. There are investors from China, (South) Korea and other parts of the world who have invested in Telangana, so we are reaching out to others through them.
How do you think covid-19 is going to impact the industrial sector?
The biggest challenge will be to instil confidence in the workforce. Operating at full capacity in the short-term will be a challenge, but operating at an optimal capacity and eventually ramping up should be the goal. You have to work in shifts, as against what you are used to. Lot of changes have to be made. Sanitation, sanitizers and personal hygiene will become a topic of extreme importance.
You will have to have paramedical staff on call at least, so that if someone falls sick they can be immediately shifted. So unless we do all this nobody will be comfortable to return to work. How all this is feasible, we have to start thinking about. We also have to see what other countries bounced back and are coping.
Have there been requests from the industry bigwigs to ease the lockdown?
Telangana can’t think in isolation and we have to see what the rest of the world is doing. We have continued our lockdown till 7 May, and did not provide any relaxations as such, but many of our neighbouring states did. So it becomes difficult for our industry also to become competitive. Some sections of the industry reached out and appealed to us, but we told them this is a pandemic and that as a government our priority is to keep our people safe.
What do you think the Centre needs to do on its part to boost the economy?
The government of India needs to seize the opportunity and create a positive spin on the whole situation. It needs to start engaging with various industry bodies and missions in various important manufacturing countries, to start engaging in activity which will lure investments to us. Secondly, why is state after state asking to include MNREGA with agriculture?
There is renewed focus on pharma and vaccines now. India’s capabilities have been proven. Even president (Donald) Trump standing in the White House and asking (Narendra) Modi to send hydroxychloroquine, is where Hyderabad gets a resounding endorsement. So a project like pharma city assumes national importance. This is the silver line I have been harping on.
Source - LIVE MINT