Kerala lagging in eco growth due to negative politics: FICCI chief

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Kochi, Apr 11 (UNI) Kerala is losing to other states in the race for competitiveness and growth and the state's politicians are largely to be blamed for this, Industry chamber FICCI chief Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP, said today.

Delivering the keynote address at the 'Express Conclave' on 'Politics, Development and Constructive Journalism' here, Mr Chandrasekhar, who is also the chairman of 'Asianet' television channel, said Kerala was still struggling to find its place in the new economic model which thrives on competitiveness and growth.

Stating that Kerala's growth story could be best described as ''one step forward and 3/4th step backward,'' Mr Chandrasekhar said this could be very frustrating for the people of the state, investors from outside and generally everyone with a stake in the state's progress.

Squarely blaming the politicians and political parties, the FICCI chief said there was increasingly a feeling that the politics of Kerala was becoming more of a problem to its people than a solution.

''Politics is creating divisions rather than a coherent vision and hope for the future,'' he added.

While disputes between politicians and parties were to be expected, that should not be the only reason for their existence.

''The slow response by our political class to aspirations is not acceptable anymore,'' he noted.

Observing that the state's population was predominantly young, aware and impatient, he said political parties in Kerala should agree to a ''common minimum economic (CME) agenda'' that acts as a base minimum catalyst for growth, regardless of which party was in power.

''This CME agenda should be around principles of private investment, governance and fiscal responsibility, leak-proof and efficient delivery of social services and programmes and better economic performance of the public sector investments,'' he added.

Talking of the role of media in the new economy, he said a vigilant media was essential.

''In today's world, where economic regulation and policies can, in a sleight of hand, cause enterprises to be richer by crores of rupees and the State to lose by the same manner and where politico-business nexus can cause serious economic and institutional loss, a vigilant media is an essential and critical part of the equation.'' Stating that the transformation of India in the past decade had been amazing, Mr Chandrasekhar said India was set to take its place among the developed nations and Kerala should also follow and take its place amongst developed states.

Former UN Under-Secretary Shashi Tharoor, Kerala Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem, Galfar Group Managing Director P Mohammed Ali, Infosys Technologies Vice-President Srikantan Moorthy and ONGC Executive Director S K Jain were present on the occasion.

UNI ARC ROY 1822

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