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Kerala should focus on domestic job generation: Prabhat Patnaik

Our Bureau Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on July 12, 2021

Kerala should focus more on a job-oriented development strategy in order to sustain its development model, says Prabhat Patnaik, renowned economist and a former Vice-Chairman of the Planning Board.

He said this while delivering the fifth in the public lecture series organised by the Kerala Economic Association and Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation on the topic, ‘Kerala economy in transition.’

Huge projects not needed

Huge projects with huge investment may not be the best recipe because of the peculiar demographic profile. Instead, the State should anchor its development needs in employment generating verticals.

Its development strategy has hitherto sought to augment welfare. Still, the State is faced with high rate of unemployment when compared to States like Gujarat. This issue needs to be addressed seriously.

Care economy and healthcare

So, the State needs to focus on care economy, especially the healthcare segment, tourism and knowledge economy. The Kerala Model had not delivered on employment, which raises two questions, he said.

In what sense is there an unemployment issue, and what should be done about it? While the jobless numbers are high, the State is remarkably free from destitution that one generally associates with it.

However, all the efforts need not be directed to the knowledge economy. The State needs investments in areas where it has core strength. This will generate job opportunities, and that is the need of the hour.

Boost local food grain output

Patnaik also said that the State should initiate serious efforts to enhance local food grain production. This gets prime importance since the Centre is slowly withdrawing from the statutory public distribution system.

Kerala needs to rethink its focus on cash crops and implement a strategy in the agriculture sector that focuses more on edible items. Tourism deserves emphasis, provided it is ‘responsible tourism’.

Additionally, Kerala has the potential to develop as a ‘care economy’, providing care, especially healthcare, not just to its domestic population but to the rest of the country as well, Patnaik said.

Economists take part

Sindhu Krishnan, Associate Professor, Cochin College, was the moderator and A Ashokan, former registrar, University of Kannur, the discussant of the session. KJ Joseph, Director, GIFT, welcomed the participants.

Among those in attendance were eminent economists KP Kannan, AV Jose, Michel Tharakan, MA Oommen, CT Kurian, KN Harilal, who is also a member of the Kerala Planning Board and Balagopal Chandrashekhar.

Published on July 12, 2021

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