The vision for Tamil Nadu for 2023 is to become India’s most prosperous and progressive state with no poverty, and where its people enjoy all the basic services of a modern society and live in harmonious engagement with the environment and with the rest of the world.
Any visioning exercise has three essential defining points – the starting position, the targeted outcomes, and the trajectory to be traversed. Today, Tamil Nadu is a mid-sized state in the Indian union, with a good standing on many economic and social parameters. It scores amongst the top three states on many dimensions and does well on most others including infrastructure provision.
Tamil Nadu will increase its per capita income (at current prices) by 6 times from Rs. 73,278 (US$ 1628)4 in 2010-11 to Rs. 4,50,000 (US$ 10,000) in 2023, in line with per capita income of Upper Middle Income (UMI) countries. Over the next 11 years, Tamil Nadu, given its factor endowments and the combination of strengths and opportunities, will aim to grow its GSDP at 11% or more per annum - about 20% more than the expected growth rate of India’s GDP over the same period.
Along with a high rate of economic growth, Vision 2023 also seeks to simultaneously reduce inequality of incomes across the state. Any growth that only caters to the aspirations of the upper crust and leaves behind some sections of society is not only morally wrong but practically unsustainable. Enabling widespread access to physical and social infrastructure services enhances equitable growth, and this lies at the heart of Tamil Nadu’s growth strategy.
At present, Tamil Nadu scores reasonably well on social indicators vis-a-vis most states of India. This can be seen particularly in the case of Human Development Indicators, in which Tamil Nadu has made considerable further progress during the past decade. Vision 2023 seeks an ambitious goal for key parameters such as, crude birth and death rates, MMR, IMR and Under 5MR, where, the performance of the state will be ranked as the best in the country. Essentially, Vision 2023 envisages Tamil Nadu to become not only the numero uno State in India in terms of social indicators, but also reach the levels attained by developed countries in human development by ensuring universal access to health facilities.
The heart of Vision 2023 is provision of world class infrastructure to all the residents of Tamil Nadu irrespective of their economic status. The accent on infrastructure in Vision 2023 is necessitated on two counts – (a) Infrastructure development is investment intensive and in its own right generates significant employment opportunities and economic growth; (b) More importantly, infrastructure development creates huge positive externalities in the economy by providing a fillip to economic and social development across all sectors.
Given the quantum of investments required for the infrastructure sector in Tamil Nadu and considering the need for providing efficient services, more than two-thirds of the financing has to come from non state governmental sources, particularly the private sector. Therefore, improving the standing of Tamil Nadu on the investment climate sweepstakes is one of the key planks of Vision 2023.
While Tamil Nadu already enjoys a good position in India from the perspective of investment flows, Vision 2023 envisages Tamil Nadu becoming one of the top three destinations for investment in Asia, and also be the most attractive state for investments in India.
For growing GSDP at a sustained pace of 11% per annum for the next 11 years, all three sectors of the economy, namely, Agriculture, Manufacturing and Services, need to grow at a high rate. Agricultural output would need to grow by 5% per annum over the next 11 years despite no increase in cultivable area; manufacturing sector would have to grow by about 14% per annum, while the Service sector would grow at 11% per annum. Innovation is key to achieving such ambitious growth rates and Vision 2023 envisions Tamil Nadu becoming the “Knowledge Capital” and “Innovation Hub” of the country.
A secure, peaceful and conducive environment is an essential pre-requisite for trade and industry to flourish in the state and for its people to attain their potential by providing opportunities for skill upgradation, enhancing employability and mobility. Towards this end, Tamil Nadu will integrate seamlessly with other states of India and the rest of the world on multiple dimensions, such as, increasing the flow of workforce and goods/services across its borders, enhancing the levels of exchange of ideas and culture with other regions, and facilitating the natural movement of people to and from Tamil Nadu.
Preserving, and wherever possible, improving the quality of the environment and nurturing the cultural heritage of the state would be an essential ingredient of Vision 2023. Environmental preservation would encompass the entire ecological footprint of human activity and would include increasing forest cover, protection of wetlands, conserving groundwater and rivers and other water bodies, protection of the coastal zones and fragile ecosystems, conservation of the zoological and botanical diversity of the state, protection of soil and other natural formations from abuse on account of human activity, efficient recycling of solid waste ensuring minimal impact on the environment, minimising atmospheric pollution and in general maintaining the ecological balance across the entire state.
Implementing measures to reduce the vulnerability of the state and its residents to unfavourable events (natural or otherwise) and their consequences, is a key objective of Vision 2023. A lot of the progress and good work can come unstuck in the event of natural disasters or other man-made disturbances such as accidents, unrest, economic downturns and the like. While improving the economic lot of society enhances the ability to bear shocks better, there are several other steps that need to be strategically and consciously taken to reduce the vulnerability of the state.
This is both an outcome desired and also a fundamental enabling factor for implementing Vision 2023. Successful implementation of Vision 2023 will not happen in the “business as usual” mode. The role of Government of Tamil Nadu has to change in a comprehensive manner for the Vision 2023 to succeed.