Tharoor calls for development of 'Brand Kerala'

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Kochi, Apr 11 (UNI) Emphasising on Kerala's natural beauty, its high social indices, pluralistic society and a changing work culture, former UN Under-Secretary General Shashi Tharoor today called for the development of a 'Brand Kerala' to attract investments.

Addressing the 'Express Conclave' on 'Politics, Development and Constructive Journalism' here, the former diplomat stressed the need for Kerala developing its knowledge and service industries by training its workforce adequately.

Stating that Kerala's social indices matched those of developed countries such as the US at 1/70th of the cost, Mr Tharoor said the State, however, could not afford to live off remittances and tourism alone.

Regretting that the overly politicised and unionised Kerala workforce had got a bad reputation abroad, he said that though there were signs of change, the process had to be accelerated.

''There is a need for a change in the mindset of the workers so that the pride in work comes ahead of pride in policies,'' he added.

State Industries Minister Elamaram Kareem said the LDF Government had adopted a three-pronged strategy to industrialise Kerala. At the outset, it wanted to convert the State into a forward destination for manufacturing, agro processing, health services and knowledge-based industries and services. It also planned to strengthen the State PSUs and make traditional industries competitive by value addition and skill development.

Expressing the State Government's willingess to support private capital, he admitted that bottlenecks such as inferior infrastructure, inadequate land and unavailability of raw materials such as steel, coal, chemicals and other minerals locally dissuaded outside investment.

Mr Kareem said the Government was not for indiscreet allotment of special economic zones, but preferred to set up product-specific SEZs in areas such as IT, biotechnology and other new generation industries.

Others present at the conclave, organised by the 'New Indian Express' group as part of its 75th anniversary celebrations, were Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, FICCI chief Rajeev Chandrasekhar, MP, Galfar Group Managing Director P Mohammed Ali, Infosys Technologies Vice-President Srikantan Moorthy and ONGC Executive Director S K Jain.

UNI ARC GD RR AS2043

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