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Aim is To Make Uttar Pradesh A $1 Trillion Economy, Says Top State Official Navneet Sehgal

Navneet Sehgal was appointed Principal Secretary of handling MSMEs and export promotion for the state by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. His task also includes the state’s image makeover. Sehgal spoke to on how UP is changing.

How important is the image makeover of Uttar Pradesh as a destination of new investments?

The image of the state has undergone a rapid transformation and we are constantly highlighting the economic and industrial development taking place in the state. This is clearly visible in view of the overwhelming response of industries (both national and global) to invest in Uttar Pradesh. We have been aggressively pursuing industrialization-led development in the state to generate new employment opportunities and uplift the economic condition of our citizens. Our aim is to make Uttar Pradesh a $1 trillion economy.

Uttar Pradesh has a population of approximately 24 crore, the highest in any Indian state. Its population is exceeded by only four countries in the world and is more than that of many European countries combined. It is a political hotspot as well. The challenges we have to overcome are Herculean.

Peace stability and law and order are what investors look for. There are reports of law and order failure in some parts of the State. Does this worry you or you think things have improved?

Law and order is the government’s priority and we work at war footing to ensure a safe environment not just for the investors but everyone in the State. We have also developed infrastructure all over the State and provided a holistic set-up to all companies. The Mafiosi of UP have had a tough time as the police have cracked them down at a war footing and seized around Rs 1,000 crore worth properties in 2020 alone.

For better policing, 41 new police stations and 13 new check posts were established in the State and 1.37 lakh police personnel were recruited. The police commissionerate system has been implemented in Lucknow and Gautam Budh Nagar. The government has adopted a policy of zero tolerance towards crime and corruption, which ensured an immensely improved policing system. Crime figures have dropped to a considerable extent. While dacoity cases decreased by 59.70 per cent in 2019 as compared to 2016, there was a decrease of 47.09 per cent in murder cases in the same period.

In the State’s ranking in the recently announced (2020) Business Reform Action Plan ranking of States by DPIIT by the Government of India, Uttar Pradesh bagged the second position in the ‘Ease of doing business’ – a jump of 12 positions in the last three years.

What are the new plans as UP is considered as the hub for industrial development, especially for the small and medium enterprises?

UP has the largest number of estimated micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in India, approximately 90 lakhs MSME units. This accounts for 14.2 per cent of the total number of MSMEs in the entire country. With the establishment of around 49.02 lakh MSMEs, the State’s MSME sector generated direct employment for nearly 24.41 lakh people in the last three years. Additionally, MSMEs contribute around 80 per cent of the State’s exports, which have seen an increase of 35 per cent from nearly Rs 88,967 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 1,20,356 crore in 2019-20. The MSME sector has provided the most number of jobs in the State.

The State government is committed to providing all necessary assistance for the development of MSMEs and traditional craftsmen as they form the base for realising the dream of a self-reliant India. A new portal ‘MSME Sathi’ has been launched to help entrepreneurs set up new units. The government also plans to set up 4 lakh new units across the State in its efforts to generate more employment and also help people learn entrepreneurial skills. As many as 90 lakh MSMEs are functional in the state and the sector has been projected as the new growth engine for the economic development of the State.

The Atmanirbhar scheme will make India less dependent on foreign countries. Do you agree to this especially since many countries are trying to protect their economy by inclusiveness?

Absolutely. The State’s “One District One Product (ODOP)” scheme launched in 2018 is our flagship programme. This was launched with the intention of benefitting the artisans and the development of clusters of traditional craft, handicraft and small industry in the State. We are providing support in terms of raw material sourcing, technology, packaging and marketing of the products.

For example, the artisans’ of the old wood carving industry of Saharanpur needed training. Now under the ODOP initiative, we are providing training facilities to them. This will not only improve the products, but will also improve efficacy. Additionally, the programme aims at adding to the income and local employment and is in line with the honourable Prime Minister’s clarion call of ‘vocal for local’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

What is the desire behind the ‘One District One Product’ initiative? Can this be replicated across the country?

The “One District One Product’ initiative was launched with the intention of benefitting the artisans and development of clusters of traditional craft, handicraft and small industry in the State. The ODOP scheme recently completed three years and so far around 80,000 artisans have been trained and more than 40 lakhs of people have been employed as part of the initiative. While the overall exports have risen from Rs 80,000 crore to Rs 120,000 crore in three years, the exports through the ODOP scheme have increased from Rs 55,008 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 65,982 crore in 2018-19. The artisans have further been trained in branding of the products as well. One of the core objectives of the ODOP programme is to ‘discourage migration by improving income and local employment in the State’.

By providing specific platforms such as MSME sectors, securities sector and self-help groups (SHGs), the artisans would be able to increase the quality and production of traditional products. This would lead to an increase in income and employment opportunities.

The ODOP project aims to have stringent monitoring measures to prevent unethical monopoly practices of middlemen and ensures fair wages to artisans for their arduous work.

The ODOP programme, through its various schemes, provides following financial assistance for its artisans:

· Through its Margin Money scheme, a certain margin of the project cost will be paid to the applicants in the form of subsidy to set up the project.

· Through its Market Development Assistance (MDA) scheme, financial assistance will be provided to participants of national and international fairs and exhibitions for display and sale of their products selected under the ODOP programme.

· Through its Common Facility Centre (CFC) Scheme, financial assistance of up to 90 per cent of the project cost of a CFC would be provided by the State government.

·The ODOP Cell is also tying up with various expert organisations and institutions to fill credit, marketing, technology, design, packaging and other gaps in the ODOP product ecosystem. Key tie-ups with Amazon, Flipkart and ebay, among others are also there.

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