Make in Odisha: An illusion of investment and employment

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Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government is now ecstatic about hosting the third “Make in Odisha” (MIO) conclave to encourage job-related industrial investment in the state. This event will take place at Bhubaneswar’s Janata Maidan from November 30 to December 4. According to the government, industrialists from across the country and abroad will attend the five-day event to discuss investment opportunities in Odisha.

In the past, the government spent nearly 40 crore rupees on two “Make in Odisha” events in Bhubaneswar. This time, it is estimated that it will cost Rs. 70 crore—a 700% increase over the first event—to create an ecosystem that will inspire industrialists and investors to invest.

Despite spending so much on the first two editions, the government does not appear to have accomplished much in terms of attracting investment or creating jobs. The first MIO conclaves were expected to attract Rs. 6.26 lakh crore in total investment: Rs. 2.03 lakh crore in the first and Rs. 4.23 lakh crore in the second. However, the government has only succeeded in attracting a total investment of Rs. 5,674 crore, representing a success rate of 1%.

Similarly, claims were made at both conclaves that a total of 7.31 lakh new job opportunities would be created – 1.40 lakh during the first conclave and 5.91 lakh during the second. So far, only 5,800, or 0.79%, new jobs have been created.

In addition, the department has failed to maintain transparency in informing the public about MIO initiatives. The Industry Department has made information on the signing of Memorandums of Understanding available until 2016. In the MOU tag of the departments portal, no information has been updated since 2016. Similarly, the Department’s Annual Report has only been updated through 2015-16.
Recognizing a start-up is the first step in encouraging entrepreneurship in young people or ignited minds. So far, 101 start-ups have been assisted, and 1434 start-ups have been recognised in the state.

The failure rate on both investment and employment generation fronts in the first two editions of MIO is around 99%. Now it has to be seen what the third edition of the extravaganza is going to achieve.
This recognition is declining year after year, indicating a lack of interest among entrepreneurs in starting a new business in Odisha.

According to data from the start-up Odisha portal, the number of recognised startups in 2017 was 185, increased to 215 in 2018-19, and then dropped to 23 in 2019-20. The government provided financial assistance to 30 units in 2017-18, but only one unit in 2019-20.

Odisha has fallen short of competing with other Indian states in terms of promoting startups and maintaining a startup eco-system. The Government of India publishes a ranking of states in five categories, but Odisha did not receive a single chance. Even the North-East states receive high marks and are ranked in the top performing categories.

The ease of doing business is considered as a metric for attracting professional investments. However, the worst EoDB environment has been seen here in the past.

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