Mindset change must for Kerala economy's recovery from COVID crisis: Experts

Adaptability, mindset change must for Kerala economy to bounce back from COVID crisis: Manorama webinar

A re-engineered education system and infrastructure that suit the modern day work culture should be on top of the priorities for Kerala to survive COVID-induced socio-economic crises, experts said at a webinar organised by Malayala Manorama.

The speakers of the webinar, the first in a series on 'Kerala: Beyond COVID', mostly shared the optimism that the state has to move forward reshaping itself to fit the emerging trends in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

The webinar series is aimed at offering concrete ideas to the government to revive its economy hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant lockdown.

The panelists, business leaders from Kerala who have made their mark, dwelt on a slew of topics such as education, infrastructure, tourism and a behavioural change.

In a pre-shot video interaction with moderator G Vijayaraghavan, technocrat Sam Pitroda said Kerala should focus on its key sectors like textiles, food, healthcare, education and housing among others to reignite the economy.

In his opening remarks, Chandran Nair, Group President, AEM Singapore PTE Limited, said the state has to prepare its well-educated workforce to embrace jobs in the fields of data mining and analytics. He said Kerala has to explore the options for creating web-based educational products the demand for which has surged during the lockdown days globally.

Calling for a skill-based education policy, Nair said only the most adaptable are going to survive the changing times.

The state should focus to develop agriculture by making use of modern technologies including AI and robotics, he said.

Echoing Nair's views, Raj Rajkumar, director, Symphony Asia Holdings, Singapore, said Kerala should tap the potential of remote working, which has become the norm among companies across the world.

He gave a concrete suggestion that the state should set up remote working studios with all necessary facilities from where employees of foreign companies can work.

Kerala should also adopt the Israel model of using technology to boost agriculture.

On the tourism sector's future, Rajkumar exuded confidence that the small and medium sectors would bounce back as soon as the lockdown is lifted.

He, however, said it may take more time for the high-end hospitality sector to make a comeback.

Tony Thomas, former CIO, Nissan, said the state needed a change in the mindset about revenue generation to move forward.

He said the state has to accept that there's a capitalism with compassion.

"You have to have companies coming to Kerala. They need not be big companies," he said.

Thomas' key suggestion to the state government was that it need not think of itself as a job producer. "The government has to be an enabler of job production," he said.

He said the state can no longer remain the traditional 'god's own country'. "It has to become 'healthcare's own country' and 'technology's own country".

He urged the state to explore the areas of telemedicine and online education.

Citing the example of Goa brewing its own liquor, Feni, from cashew fruits and branding it, Thomas said Kerala has to shed its conservative attitude when it comes to alcohol use.

He said the state also has to ensure that the quality of life is improved to woo leaders of big companies to work here – a view shared by most of the panellists.

(Malayala Manorama is organising a three-day webinar series on the topic – Kerala: Beyond Covid – in association with Kosamattam Finance Limited. On the second day on Thursday (May 14), the session will be organized from from 10am to 12pm. Pamela Mathew (managing director of OEN India Limited), V K Mathews (founder, executive director of IBS Software), Thomas John Muthoot (Kerala council chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry), Sheriff Sahadulla (CEO and CMO of KIMS healthcare group), Alexander Varghese (Chief Operating Officer of UST Global), and RVG Menon (noted environmentalist and former director of ANERT) are on Thursday's panel. G Vijayaraghavan (the founder CEO of Technopark) will moderate the session. To register, give a missed call to: +91-85890-05678.)

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