By: Kaushik Vaidya
Migration in search of employment and a better livelihood will continue “unless we address this lopsided development that is happening across the country,” says KT Rama Rao, Telangana’s minister for industries and commerce, urban development, and information technology, in an interview with BloombergQuint.
The minister admits that the agriculture sector is in a state of distress across the country despite significant government intervention. In Telangana’s case, power and water are offered free of cost and loans are interest-free for agriculture. The “permanent solution”, he says, is for the state to harness its irrigation potential fully.
Telangana will spend Rs 1.75 lakh crore on irrigation over the next five years. In March 2015, the state’s Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao launched Mission Kakatiya to replenish and rejuvenate 46,000 lakes and tanks. The programme is named after a dynasty that ruled over present-day Warangal between 1163 and 1323, which promoted the construction of many reservoirs and tanks in the region.
Framework For Growth
Unemployment in Telangana’s urban regions is significantly higher than that in the state’s villages, as per a district-level report on Telangana published by the Government of India’s Labour Bureau in December 2014, five months after India’s newest state was carved out of Andhra Pradesh. The report estimates urban unemployment in Telangana at 6.9 percent, and rural employment at 1.3 percent, at the end of financial year 2013-14.
The state government wants to “infuse capital into creating more urban infrastructure, and at the same time, try to create urban amenities in rural areas as well,” says Rao, in an answer to a question on urban clusters driving growth. Asked to reply to the same report which shows that three-fourths of the state’s workforce have no family member with a salary or a wage – implying large-scale informal employment – Rao says the way to more formal employment is through “more job creators in India by way of ensuring that they are abled and not stifled by the system that we have around us.”
Doubling Down On Technology
Nearly two decades after Hyderabad was first developed as a hub for information technology, the present government in Telangana is simultaneously wooing global technology giants as well as homegrown startups. After a busy eighteen months of hosting top executives from Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Uber in Hyderabad, the state government is also promoting a technology entrepreneurship programme in collaboration with the Indian School of Business, and a government-run skilling academy. Rao says over 1 lakh direct technology jobs have been created in the last two years, and thrice that number in ancillary employment. Telangana and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh topped the Ease of Doing Business Reforms Ranking 2015-16, released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and the World Bank in August.
Then there’s the paradox that promoting technology also leads to automation and a potential loss of semi-skilled jobs. There’s a way out, and perhaps even a silver lining here, believes Rao. “Any challenge that is thrown up by way of automation or an invention definitely presents an opportunity right next to it. Cyber security, data analytics, data centres are the next waves of growth. The country has to embrace the change that is sweeping the world.”