Kerala can take a cue from China in tapping investments
from its non-resident population, the United Nations Industrial
Development Organisation''s (UNIDO) regional director for
South Asia, George B Assaf, said.
Assaf, on a visit to the state on an invitation from the
city-based Institute for Small Enterprises Development,
said that Kerala should adopt innovative strategies to
"encourage foreign investment through non-resident
Keralites who are doing business outside Kerala."
was speaking on the opportunities and challenges before
the concept and implementation of industrial clusters
here on Saturday. "Kerala is one of the least industrialised
states in India," he said, but lauded Kerala''s achievements
in developing the quality of life.
manufacturing contributes about half of the value added
to manufacturing in the state whereas the all-India average
was 40 per cent, he said. He also noted with concern the
rising unemployment, especially among the educated. To
meet the situation, he suggested that education should
be reoriented to suit the requirements of a market-oriented
economy. The state can do this "by realising the
very positive role the state can play, through panchayati
raj institutions and local government and especially through
promotion of SMEs in a cluster-based approach," he
a press meet organised immediately after Dr Assaf''s lecture
on Industrial Clusters: Opportunities and Constraints,
the secretary to the government of Kerala for investment
promotion, PH Kurien, said that the concept of industrial
clusters is catching up in the district with several new
initiatives in the recent past. Sixteen clusters, one
of them a tread rubber enterprise, are in various stages
of formation and development, he said.
clusters of plywood in Perumbavoor and rice mills in Kalady
are examples of the way the idea is catching up, he said.
Most recently, the District Industries Centre has initiated
the formation of a garments cluster for women entrepreneurs.
Kurien said that industrial clusters were historical groupings,
which had developed under circumstances that were unique
to a place. According to him, industrial clusters were
entrepreneur-driven initiatives rather than government-driven.
government could, at best, act as a facilitator in the
process of confidence-building, provide expertise and
choice of cleaner and better technologies, he said. He
said that a sub-committee of the Planning Commission that
looked into how the government could help industrial clusters
had submitted its report to the Commission recently.
Assaf said that UNIDO understood clusters as a "concentration
of micro, mini, small or medium enterprises, also called
''principal firms'', producing similar or nearly products.
Typically, these firms are situated in the same geographical
area city or town or village and its surrounding
he said, "A cluster has a dual dimension - a product
consisting of a range of products and a geographical identity
or place." He also said that clusters were not new
phenomena but that they had evolved historically.