The Centre will, in all overseas visits of important government functionaries and high-level trips of visiting dignitaries to India, push the specific needs of interested states rather than the current norm of describing the country as a whole and opportunities in general terms.
To this effect, the ministry of commerce will soon ask states for details on the status of available land in hectares, industry-wise break-up of skilled labour, sectors in each state which have the potential to boost manufacturing, agriculture and services, the power situation, a list of feasible projects, fiscal incentives, in addition to phone numbers as well as addresses / website links of key contact persons and state government agencies, official sources told FE. These will then be made into power-point presentations or pamphlets in English and the national language of the partner country.
The idea is also to identify states that are proactive in being more connected to the world, as well as to encourage the laggards to catch up with the best practices followed by others. This will help the Centre and states function as a team in promoting the country to attract foreign investment and technology, the ministry said.
This new strategy is being taken forward based on the consideration that each state may have different priority areas and could be looking at unique development models given their unique locations. Therefore, promoting the country without understanding the needs of individual states may not be fruitful. Besides the power to approve projects, especially those related to mega infrastructure projects where the Centre wants huge investments including from overseas sources as also land clearances, lies with the state government.
Addressing the concerns of each state is an area the Modi government wants to accord top priority to. The PM has backed the idea of making the states compete with each other on development, industrialisation and infrastructure, as well as in attracting investment, generating employment and boosting exports. For better coordination, the government is also seeking a closer relationship between the Prime Ministers Office and offices of CMs.
In his address to Parliament in June, the PM had said his government believes in cooperative federalism and a situation where best practices followed in any part of India is imbibed by other states as well.
The move comes at a time when the Centre is looking at re-energising platforms such as Inter-State Council and the National Development Council. The Centre is also engaging with states for faster roll out of the Goods and Services Tax.
The government's pitch for ensuring that India remains a top investment destination comes in the wake of a recent survey by consulting firm AT Kearney which showed that the country has plunged to its lowest ranking since 2001 in the foreign direct investment confidence index. Though it ranked third in 2010 and second in 2012, 2007 and 2005, India was ranked only seventh in the 2014 FDI confidence index. "India attracted $25.5 billion in FDI inflows in 2012, down from $31.6 billion the previous year. The cooling-off in investor sentiment we foresaw last year appears to have taken shape, with a two-place drop from fifth to seventh, its lowest rank since 2001," AT Kearney said.