Invest Karnataka the showcase event of Karnataka Government is seeing hectic activity. Policy Pulse’s Vijay Grover caught up with the man behind the show Gaurav Gupta, Chairman Karnataka Udyog Mitra. Gaurav Gupta hopes that the Investors will lap up the various proposals being made by the State Government during Invest Karnataka which plans to mop up Rs 5 lakh crore investments in the next five years for the State of Karnataka.
Hectic activity has been on for Invest Karnataka 2016, how challenging was it to showcase this event and get investors keen to come here ?
Reaching out to the industries and investors is what we have taken up on ourselves as planned from June 2015 when it was announced. We are overwhelmed by the response from all quarters and just look forward to help build the right connections.
Karnataka is well known across the world and many prospective investors know more about India now than ever before. They are identifying regions in India where there is possibility of development, there is a talent pool and positive industrial climate and I think Karnataka has come to be identified as a progressive industrialised State. Particularly Karnataka is known for the Information Technology industry, research and development and design. Frankly speaking, it wasn't very difficult to market Karnataka. The only element we added is we need to talk about it more as compared to what it is being talked about already. That is primarily because if we are not heard then people may think although Karnataka has potential may be people are not interested for fresh investment. So here we have a show that lets us talk about our resources and enthusiasm, helps us reach out to people.
Over the last two decades Information Technology continues to be main stay of investors, what are the other sectors you are looking at investment in the coming years?
Apart from IT, Karnataka is very strong in biotech and pharmaceuticals, companies like Biocon have been exporting. Karnataka has been a strong player in aerospace because of the HAL and the system that got created around it. Machine tool is a very important sector since 1960’s. The automobile is rapidly growing and is very important for us because we already have Toyota, Honda, Volvo who are based here. In Textiles Karnataka is very strong, earlier it was silk now other materials are also available. There are people who have 100 percent export setups. Likewise Karnataka has very strong R&D sector with some prime centres being based here in Bengaluru. Thelargest steel plant in the country, is based in Karnataka. While we also have strong tourism potential we need to do more in marketing the State. We need to make people aware that there is something beyond what they already know. One major area is electronics manufacturing. This is what we want to give a thrust primarily because it complements the IT sector. We have recently tied up with companies from Taiwan for this sector.
The basic need for any investment is power. All eyes are on the power sector, what steps have been taken in the last two years to ensure the industry doesn't suffer because of power shortage?
We are encouraging investors in power sectors in a big way. We have lined up several meetings and will be signing agreements with various multinational companies and Indian companies who are keen to invest in Karnataka. The agreements are in various sectors, thermal, solar and hydel power which we will be sharing with you in the next few days. As power demands are rising with expected growth we are allowing expansion of existing projects immediately.
The Chief Minister has been highlighting that Industry needs to provide value addition for agro sector and rural economy. Is there any specific plan that you have for the agriculture?
The Chief Minister’s vision is to integrate industry to invest in agriculture to give higher value to farming community. We are working hard to get proposals to come in because the Government wants small industries and small investors also to benefit.
Karnataka has a very strong agricultural economy like sugar-based industries. We manufacture everything from sugar to alcohol to cellulose in several districts. Floriculture is an important sector where we are exporting already. Karnataka which produces some of the finest grapes now has several wineries which are producing some of the best Indian brands. In horticulture , Karnataka stands tall and we are encouraging food processing units to invest in the State. We grow exotic vegetable varieties and also gherkins for exports. Traditionally the pulses grown in North Karnataka are sold across the country. Coorg and several other districts produce some of the finest coffees which are exported in substantial quantities. The coffee from Karnataka is considered as very fine quality, and carries a premium in auctions.
When you went around travelling for the road shows inviting investors which was the sector that got a lot of interest and what were some of the concerns of some of the people whom you met regarding this?
In the IT sector we have a leadership position it will expand because of the subsidies they have and the feedback they've got from their partners based in Karnataka. We found big attraction from aerospace sector because of the projected growth in aviation market. Karnataka already has assembly lines for several aircraft and there is projected increase in manufacturing of aeroplanes. It’s an upcoming sector and Central Government is giving out licences.
You have done things differently for Invest Karnataka 2016. What are some of the USP’s of IK 2016?
The team has ensured that technology makes the entire process simple. Right from queries, registration as delegates, putting up interests in various sectors have been opened online. Most of the delegates have already been given an opportunity to research before they reach Bengaluru. We have set up interlinx -network to facilitate meetings and we are overwhelmed by the response. We are trying to facilitate investments, signing of MoU’s and completion of formalities at the earliest with highest levels of transparency and timeliness.