After raising the hackles of the BJP by praising Tipu Sultan in Karnataka, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday showered praise on Kerala for its appreciable track record in public health and education and becoming a potential power house of Digital India, with a growing IT sector.
On his second visit to the state within a month, the President also congratulated the state for having created a remarkable hospitality industry.
President's good words for the state and its various sectors come against the backdrop of an aggressive campaign launched by BJP's top leadership specially its President Amit Shah against the Left rule and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who during his visit to the state attacked its public health system.
Speaking at the launch of Technology Project and laying of the foundation stone of the first government building in Technocity, the President said the sense of service has been deeply imbibed by the people of Kerala.
"I would say it has become your economic calling card. This is a state with an appreciable track record in public health and education, and is a front-runner in our country's quest to achieve total literacy. It is logical therefore that Kerala has also become known for its strengths in the services sector and the knowledge economy," he said.
Kovind said Kerala is potentially a power-house of Digital India. "It is one of India's most connected states, with among the highest rates of mobile phone penetration. I understand that the government is making efforts to bridge the digital divide and provide free Internet connections to two million poorer families by using a new optic fibre network. And there is ample evidence that our people, even those at the bottom of the pyramid, are very adaptive and can easily embrace and use new technology."
He said the the Kerala IT sector has been growing. Among all Indian states, it is currently ranked eighth in terms of exports by IT and IT-enabled services companies. The IT sector provides direct employment to one hundred thousand (or one lakh) people in Kerala. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is immense capacity to make these numbers grow.
The President also noted that Kerala's strengths lay in basic literacy and skills - and the experience of Kerala's people in the services sector and in consumer driven industries - make this state a natural for an IT ecosystem.
"I am confident that early development of Technocity will only accelerate this process," he said.
Praising Kerala's contribution to the Digital India campaign, Kovind said: "The future of the young generation is new jobs that will come up in the Digital India campaign and Kerala is a powerhouse in this campaign as it is one of the most digitally connected states."
He also lauded the state's people for making a huge contribution to the economy of the Middle East countries and through their remittances, also keeping the state's economy at a high level.
"On my first visit abroad to Ethiopia, I came to know that a large number of Indian teachers were there working hard and of these, a good number of them were from Kerala. I have also experienced it as I too had people from here working in my office," said Kovind.
The President arrived in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday afternoon and was received by Governor P. Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other top officials.
On Saturday, he leaves for Kochi to take part in a function of the Kerala High Court and will return to Delhi from there.
The 400 acres Technocity project at Mangalapuram in the city suburbs is located a stone's throw away from the Technopark campus.
The building of the Kerala government is to become operational in 2019.