News is to be read between the lines, not along the lines. When Defence Expo was held in Lucknow in Feb 2020 and subsequent MOUs were signed by UP Government to start many defense related industries in UP, I could sense a shift in balance of industrial scenario in India in not so distant a future.
If you read the news buried under Covid related stories about success, dedication, cries, claims, fault findings, cover-ups or pure cacophony, you will see, a number of labour and agricultural reforms have been pushed in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. In post-Covid scenario, when India is expected to receive international shifting of production facilities, these two States (earlier falling under the BIMARU category- literally meaning sick but actually BIMARU was the short form for Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh – States that were considered the most backward) are preparing themselves to take the first advantage.
UP has just announced wide relaxation in labour laws and worker’s rights for next three years for establishing new industries. UP, along with Madhya Pradesh, is investing in ramping up consumption in the rural hinterland by minimising the role of middlemen, boosting competitive pricing of agricultural produce and ushering in an era of value added agricultural produce based economy. Significantly, State monopoly of determining the price of agricultural produce through state owned APMCs is being systematically demolished. MP also has allowed direct selling of agricultural products from the doorstep of farmers.
There is also a perceptible change towards no-nonsense law and order implementation in central and northern states. Law enforcement machinary is getting back the due respect it deserves. Long lost fear of law is making a reappearance. This change in perception augurs well for building up business and industrial climate.
Recent labour migration will also help these two States to avail trained labour force easily and profitably. All the states who did not take care of the labourers during lockdown period, took them for granted and consequently had to allow them to return to their home states, will have to rue the lost opportunity. They have to bear the wrath of spurned labour. Their construction and other industries will have to look towards a difficult future in the post-Covid scenario, leave alone to take advantage of International migration of industrial manufacturing facilities. Somebody’s loss is somebody else’s gain.
The author, Tapan Misra, is a distinguished scientist and Advisor with the Department of Space.