The Integrated Approach

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I have been reading all the thought provoking discussions going on in ORNET in identifying the problems in India, specifically Orissa and our role in eradicating them. I am proposing a different idea in relation to it. I shall try to make this discussion short so that all of you would be able to go through it and provide your feedback/opinion. Articulating a thought and conveying it is a difficult task. So kindly bear with me.


Facts: 
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We owe a lot to our society and must work towards its betterment because, it has helped us in becoming what we are today (may be at the cost of others!).

In search of excellence we have always moved to different places for better school, better college and finally landed in USA. With the good things we have learnt from the American society and our earning in stronger US currency, we can make a difference back home.

Corruption and crime are prevalent in all countries, in all ages; the scale may vary because of the economic condition of a particular society. Despite the evils, the society progresses. Though we must try at driving out corruption, we must not stop other good efforts because there is corruption in India. India still has more number of non-corrupt people than any other country in the world despite the poverty.

Many people do not respond to calls for charity because it gives a feeling of giving something without any return. I have watched the Salvation Army volunteer standing in front of Walmart in the cold and asking for donation. Though people go out with $100 worth of goods (which may not be used at all) they do not feel like putting a $1.00 in that box. Whereas if Walmart charges 1 cent/$ more for a product and contribute that to Salvation army, still people will buy products from Walmart and will also feel happy that they are helping the society too.


Suggestion :
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For taking Orissa to the heights of prosperity and progress we need an integrated approach. Along with the efforts like SEEDS we should also think of rapid economic growth of Orissa. The economic growth will in turn fund more projects aimed at improving the life of the deprived. Out of the many suggestions in my mind I am proposing one here.

Education is a profitable industry. You can all invest to start a Technology Institute (School) in Orissa. Considering the large demand and supply gap and also the fact that it encompasses all fields of education, I have chosen Computer Science. We shall give the best education & training and roll out 200 Computer Science graduates every year. Engineer hungry companies will set up Units in Bhubaneswar once they see a good source for getting their people. This theory has worked well in Karnatak. Bangalore & Bubaneswar were newly formed cities during independence. But there is a large economic gap between the two today). We may subsequently expand it to add other faculties.

The institute will be residential. Students will be given training on higher values of life and integrity. The student force can be utilized for undertaking developmental projects in the society. The way a strong building withstands erosion for a long time, a properly trained person will less likely to be affected by corruption and other vices of the society.

The money you invest will fetch good return (I am sure it will be better than what we get in USA). Part of the earnings of the institute will be allocated for developmental activities being taken up by organizations like SEEDS. As many of you are associated with universities and studies, this will also provide a platform for you to go back to our beloved Orissa and serve it better.

This can be a starting point for taking Orissa on a fast path of development. Today 50% of goods we buy in USA are made in China. The major difference between NRI and NRC is that many of Chinese nationals have left their lucrative jobs in USA have gone back to China to do something on their own.

We can deliberate further and come out with a more concrete plan.

 
A PLAN :
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All of us are aware of the noble work done by SEEDS. I was happy to know that there are 5000 Oriya professionals in USA, but surprised to learn that SEEDS got only $7500 as donation last year; an average of $1.5 contributed by an Oriya in USA in a year. The blatant truth is it bites to give money for pure charity. But we all know that along with economic development we need money for social upliftments too.


How is going to be different under the Integrated Approach
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Let us assume that you have an opportunity to invest your money which gives you higher return ; instead of 5 to 8% say 15%. But the company who manages your money can give 16% on your investment. However it spends 1% towards charity and gives you 15%. For an investment of $6 million it amounts to $60,000. I have taken $6 million as a figure as I feel the project may cost around Rs.15 to 20 Crores. Now the point is where do we get $6 million. The answer is simple. To generate x amount of money for business, we should logically have x/3 from promoter starting the business (we all). Rest comes from other financial institutions and public issues. So in effect we are investing $2 million which generates $20,000 for charity but also gets $40,000 for charity from others' investment. We are getting good return on our investment and at the same time the contribution on charity has a multiplier effect of 3. I am sure we can do better social work with $60,000 than with $6000. This ROI should be appealing to all of us.


Mobilizing the fund
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We have to mobilize $2 million. It is an investment from all of us. If 1/5th of Oriyans in USA invest $2000 each we get $2 million. $2000 means saving $170 per month for one year. All of us save some amount of money for future. Instead of making investments in Reliance, SBI, Starshare etc we are collectively making it in "Utkal Gaurav Initiative". This fund can be invested in various ways. It can be used to set up industries in Orissa. To ensure expected return, a part of the money can be invested with some blue chip shares in India till the actual project takes off.


Why Information Technology Institute
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In a capitalistic economy, there will always be a demand for certain kind of job at certain point of time. It is not only true in India, it is true in USA too. Many people have changed their fields after coming to USA to suite the market demand. The potential for IT exports from India as estimated by World Bank is around $1 Billion by 1996 of which companies in India are capable of capturing $500 million. So a big pie of the cake is still left out for others to bite.

For those who feel trawler business was a failure, I think they are misinformed. It is still thriving and has produced some of the richest entrepreneurs in Orissa. People who failed are those who wanted to make more money with little effort and others who stuck to "8086 PC when the world was moving to Pentium". One of my friend's in-laws are in the business of providing accessories for fishing trawlers (nets ..) and their business is doing fine & is to the tune of Rs. 1 Crore.

Opening a World class IT learning center is the first step towards cashing on the IT export market. The most important raw material in an IT industry is the professionals. Infact the business is directly proportional to the number of employees. There is a big gap between the requirement and the availability. Many leading companies in India are planning to set up their own training centers (now-a-days they call it university) to tranform the potential candidates for meeting industry requirements. Employees get referral money (as high as Rs. 10,000 if some one they referred is found suitable and joins.) There is no need for engineers coming out of colleges started in bus garage. When every country is competing world-wide what is needed for survival and growth is QUALITY. There are many companies who are making large profit by cashing on the computer craze (NIIT, APPLE many others). But they have been successful in mostly generating computer-aware people instead of true IT professionals, who can provide world class services. The proposed institution must be a center of excellence and its products must be equal to or better than those from the best institutions in India.

Once we have the source for excellent raw material, Orissa can easily draw investments in IT to the tune of $100 million as Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore and Hyderabad are getting overcrowded. Where does all these money go? It goes towards the development of economy of the state as people will spend more when they have more money (it is proven in USA).


What is our role in Orissa Gaurav Initiative
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All of us need not be entrepreneurs. We anyway invest and save money. All that is needed is to allocate a part of it for this project.


Last word
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Some have suggested to encourage small entrepreneurs in Orissa. I think many of us do that along with our relatives and friends. I feel what is needed is a jump-start to the economy in Orissa. So let us think big. We can also consider taking up some big projects in Kalahandi too.

Once investment comes in, there will be so many intellectuals with similar thinking process & concern for the state like we have, who will operate within the heart of Orissa. They can bring about the change in Orissa that we are dreaming/contemplating to do staying 16000 miles away.

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Your comments are always welcome...

Rajesh Ram Mishra

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