Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala should focus more on an employment generating development strategy in order to sustain the effect of the Kerala model of development, renowned economist and former state planning board Vice Chairman Prabhat Patnaik said on Friday.
Delivering the fifth lecture in the public lecture series, jointly organised by the Kerala Economic Association and the Gulati Institute of Finance and Taxation, on ‘Kerala economy in transition’, he said that huge projects with very huge investment may not be advisable to Kerala because of the peculiar demographic status of the state, and instead, the state should anchor its development needs in employment generating verticals.
“Kerala’s development hitherto directly augmented the welfare of the people. In spite of this, the state is still having high rate of unemployment, compared to states like Gujarat. This needs to be addressed seriously,” he said.
Elaborating, he said the main focus should be on care economy, especially the healthcare segment, tourism, and the knowledge economy.
“The main issue is that the Kerala Model had not delivered on employment, which raises two questions, in what sense is there an unemployment problem in Kerala, and what should be done about it? While the unemployment estimates for Kerala are high, the state is remarkably free from the destitution one generally associates with unemployment,” said Patnaik who was the Vice Chairman of the Board when V.S. Achuthanandan was the Chief Minister between 2006-11.
However, he added that all the efforts need not be put on the knowledge economy.
“Investment should be done in areas the state has core strength in its development path. This will generate more employment within the state and is the need of the hour,” he said.
Patnaik also said that the state should also put serious effort to enhance local food grains production.
“This gets prime importance as the Centre is slowly withdrawing from the statutory public distribution system. Hence, Kerala should rethink its focus on cash crops and implement a strategy in the agriculture sector that focus more on edible items. Tourism has been much emphasised in this respect, provided it is ‘responsible tourism’.
“Additionally however, 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,” he said.