Which Way Kerala
It may seem bizarre that in a state where once trade unions ruled the roost and shooed away industry, the growing realization that things need to change is almost like saying, "What's a nice person like you wanting to do in a place like this?"
Has Kerala, a State blessed with natural resources, put on the back burner its old culture of labour militancy that accounted for widespread unemployment and was the Achilles heel in Kerala's industrial growth? Yes and No. Set the clock back a bit, and stark reality stares you in the face. The hotel proprietor, where this writer stayed in at Trivandrum, said that 7 out of his 53 employees are from a Shiva Sena Union and that's was enough to cause trouble Something that hadn't happened in the 11 years of the hotel's existence. "They run their Mafia from Kerala now," said the hotel owner. Not only is labour militancy indigenous, it's now being imported. Sounds like bad news.
But there's good news too. The Government of Kerala isn't taking all this lying down. They are determined to wipe out this poor image. Recent happenings and some radical policy changes indicate that the scenario is indeed looking different.
Statistically speaking, Kerala has many significant advantages, especially on the technology front. 100% of 988 telephone exchanges are digital and 98% of there are connected by Optical Fibre Cable to the National Internet Backbone. It has the highest density of science and technology personnel in India, lowest employee attrition rate in the country (less that 5%) and operational costs less that 60% when compared to other Indian cities. More significantly however, is that Kerala's IT Industry Policy incorporates the first tailor-made regulatory framework for the IT industry and has been acclaimed as one of the most progressive policies. And recently at Kochi, when Kerala showcased itself at the just concluded Global Investors Meet (GIM) confirmations by major corporations to invest in Kerala, in industries IT and Non-IT, had the adrenalin truly flowing.
No longer does Kerala have to depend on the Middle East as its 'cash cow'. With progressive attitudes and policies, there's light at the end of the tunnel.