Hardcore cynics may find the vision of a Trillion Dollar Economy for Odisha a daydream. From the present level of Rs. 500,000 crore of GSDP, we can reach Rs. 13,00,000 crore if we manage to grow consistently at 10% for ten years. But dreams defy logic. They are aspirational. The Trillion Dollar dream presented by the State Government is indicative of the potential which Odisha holds on the strength of its natural resources.
Its mineral wealth is well known. It has 25% of the country’s coal reserves, 35% of iron ore reserves, 53% of bauxite reserves and 96% of chromite reserves.
It is similarly blessed with abundant water and forest resources.But these natural resources have been there for thousands of years and still Odisha is within the bottom three States in the country in terms of GSDP. The fact of the matter is that Natural Resources by themselves do not transform a State’s economy. It is the human beings who harness them and put them to use. We have not paid sufficient attention to prepare our Human Resources to take advantage of the true potential of our State.
Let us now take a look at the sectoral break up of our economy. The Manufacturing Sector contributes 18% of the GVA. The Agricultural sector contributes 18.9%. The Services Sector contributes 42%.
If we look at the institutions of skill development in these sectors, the maximum attention has gone to the Manufacturing sector. Odisha has 94 Engineering Colleges having 38,296 intake capacity. It has 151 polytechnics with intake capacity of 46,139. It has 506 ITIs with an intake of 93,894 students. There are thus 751 institutions in Odisha to develop manpower for the Manufacturing sector which contributes only 18% of the GVA.
In contrast, what is being done for creating quality manpower in Agriculture? While agriculture is going hi-tech, with increasing mechanization, climate resilient agriculture, covered cultivation, application of laser technology, artificial intelligence etc., there is acute shortage of quality manpower. There are some institutions which do address the manpower issues of agriculture, such as Management colleges imparting courses in Agri-business Management, but these are aimed at Management level positions and experience has shown that very few of them really take to agricultural operations. The bulk of manpower engaged in agriculture occupy a low rank in the employment ladder.
Let us now turn to HR Development of the Services sector, which contributes 42% of the GVA. The two major drivers of the services sector are Hospitality and Retail. The number of Colleges in Hotel Management which offer degree and diploma in Odisha is just 17. There is no dedicated institution for the Retail sector although some of the Management institutions offer a segment of their curriculum to retail or logistics.
So, what should we do? Should we open thousands of “professional institutions” to cater to the needs of Agricultural and Services Sectors? There is certainly a need for such institutions, but the two-crore people waiting to be employed cannot find enough such institutions at affordable prices.
The answer to the HR issues of a Trillion Dollar Economy is not to have more and more “professional” institutions but to orient our mainstream education towards the trillion opportunities which the economy will open up.
Our Schools and Colleges are not equipped to train the students in basic skills of agriculture and allied fields. Nor do they teach the essential requirements of the Hospitality or the Retail sector. These jobs do not require “professional skills”. They require just human skills – skill of communication, skill of inter-personal relations, politeness, punctuality, timely action, discipline at work place, integrity, reliability. And above all, an open mind and an eagerness to learn.
If we fix our Schools and Colleges, a Trillion Dollar Economy will become a reality, with or without Natural Resources.
Was happy to deliver an address at the HR Leadership Summit organised at Bhubaneswar the other day, on Odisha's goal of…