“Kerala's strengths are its people. The State, and more importantly the country as a whole effort has benefited from their hard work, both here and abroad. The State brings in more remittance than any other Indian State. It is our priority to create enough jobs in our State itself for qualified and educated youth. In order to achieve
this goal, we are leveraging ICT and other fields that are capable of creating high-end jobs”, asserts Shri Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister, and Government of Kerala in a tete-a-tete with Poulami Chakraborty of BW SmartCities World. Excerpts below:
Over the years, Kerala has built itself as a strong state regime under your visionary leadership in an overall perspective. Would you please enlighten us on what keeps the state motivated?
Kerala has a long history of struggles in the service of progressive causes. The memory of such struggles is alive in our social conscience. The people of the State have displayed impeccable fortitude and resilience during the floods of 2018. This time also, we were able to overcome the calamity in an admirable manner. To answer your question on motivation, I would say that Kerala society's secular ethos and its strong commitment to progressive values have helped us to battle these adversities.
In the past few years the state has been hit by natural calamities and flood severely taking a toll on the developmental aspect. And there is no denying that the state has shown immense courage, stamina and motivation to fight the odds. How have you enabled building the states fighting spirit and establish its foot over the ground in the past years?
It is true that these successive calamities have caused immense destruction to life, property and livelihoods. What it has failed to destroy are the spirit and resolve of the people of Kerala. As I have mentioned in my previous answer, this spirit is built on strong foundations; that of secularism and progressive politics. Kerala has bounced back with a renewed vigour. The crisis has also opened a new opportunity to reimagine the development goals of Kerala. Our efforts are to future proof the State through a model that is resilient and sustainable.
Staying afresh for 3 years in the current government, what are the prime achievements that you consider for yourself while working as the state’s Chief Minister?
The Left Democratic Front Government in the State has been able to lead the State in a path of progress. A major overhauling of the State's infrastructure is underway; GAIL pipeline project, the LNG terminal, Kochi Metro, Water Metro, National water way development, Kannur International Airport, Vizhinjam port, Hill Highway and Coastal highway projects are just some of the examples. The progress is not limited to infrastructure development. A massive revival is happening in the agricultural sector also.
The flagship missions of the Government; Ardram, Life, Haritha Keralam and Public education protection missions are driving a comprehensive transformation of the State. Now, there is a net flow of students from private schools to Government schools. Our public health centers are ranked among the best in the country.
In this period, Kerala has also reached many milestones. It became the first State in the country to achieve total electrification. It also became the first State in the country to be declared as Open Defecation Free.
Digital Transformation through Information Technology has brought in major changes in the ecosystem across the country. Would you appraise us of how God’s own Country has been able to build on IT implementation across domains within its boundaries? What further pragmatic future pipeline do you have for the state’s benefit and putting it a step ahead of the rest of the states?
Kerala's strengths are its people. The State, and more importantly the country as a whole effort has benefited from their hard work, both here and abroad. The State brings in more remittance than any other Indian State. Now it is our priority to create enough jobs in our State itself for the qualified and educated youth. In order to achieve this goal, we are leveraging ICT and other fields that are capable of creating high-end jobs. Many major technology companies have started their operations here during this period.
Kerala has also a thriving start-up ecosystem, which is one of the best in the country. The State's Electronic Vehicle policy aims to transform Kerala as a pioneer in the EV sector.
The Rebuild Kerala Initiative is one of your key focus areas. Please appraise us of the status of the same and what plan of action strategy do you have to complete it before Assembly polls?
Rebuild Kerala Initiative is leading a major overhaul of the State’s infrastructure, housing, livelihood, and environmental sectors. While the need for rebuilding Kerala have arisen in the context of the floods, the task of Rebuild Kerala Initiative is not limited to the restoration of the losses, instead, it advances a framework for future-proofing the State. The RKI will be a vehicle for realizing NavaKeralam. It will be one of the most important endeavors taken up by the State; and is not merely focused on the assembly elections.
We want to build back Kerala better. The Rebuild Kerala Development Programme (RKDP) is ready now. As you know UN agencies have assessed the recovery cost worth Rs.31,000 crores. We are mobilizing resources from external agencies, including World Bank, too.
Tourism is one premium segment that contributes to the state’s economy. How do you plan to boost it further for a huge impact in the economy in the coming days? What other major segments do you see for the state’s economic growth? Please elaborate.
For Kerala, tourism is an important sector. The State will continue to remain as a major tourist destination. However, we have also taken steps to mitigate the impact of the sector on the environment; initiatives like Carbon Neutral Wayanad and responsible tourism have this focus.
Your vision for the state’s overall development.
The vision that we are advancing is that of the Left Democratic Front. That vision articulates the aspirations of the people of Kerala. It strives to build a NavaKeralam, which will be an inclusive and developed Kerala. Development with social justice is our declared aim. And we are moving rightly on the path.