The recently concluded Tamil Nadu Global Investors Meet 2019, saw Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) worth over Rs.3.4 lakh-crore signed within two days. In addition to roping in promised investments, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami has also claimed that if and once these investments come into the state, over 10 lakh job opportunities will be created for the people of Tamil Nadu. Even as several questions are being raised over whether this promise will materialise, Minister for Rural Development and Municipal Administration SP Velumani in an exclusive chat with TNM revealed that job creation was a pre-requisite for all deals before they were sealed.
"You would have noticed back to back meetings over the last few months amongst the cabinet ministers. This was for the smooth running of the event and also to ensure that only confirmed investments came in. And as far as the 10 lakh figure for job opportunities is concerned, this is a definitive figure," he says. "Before signing the documents, we have got the assurance that jobs will be created for the people of Tamil Nadu. This is part of the understanding," he adds.
Amongst the investments in which job opportunities have been assured include the Mahindra Group's Rs.1000 crore investment for an auto component recycling plant, FoxConn which is setting up a smartphone assembling unit and in the aerospace and defence sectors where the government claims that it can create one lakh jobs in 10 years.
"We are also aware of what happens when these companies start units here. They take labourers from here but ignore the management level people. So we have told them that even MBA and engineering students should be hired from Tamil Nadu. Defence is a huge industry for the state and our engineering students will be sought after for employment," points out the minister.
The Tamil Nadu governent is currently eyeing investments worth USD 15 billion in the aerospace and defence sectors in the next 15 years and looks to make the state a preferred hub for the two industries.
Drop in the Ocean
Economists who are keenly observing the investments discussed, however maintain that while promise of business is good, it is not enough.
"Tamil Nadu has a population of 8 crore people of which 6 crore are in the workforce," says economist Venkatesh Athreya. "10.5 lakh job opportunites is too small a number at this point, compared to the number of unemployed people we have," he adds.