Kohima: Union Minister for Finance and corporate affairs Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday graced the state’s first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Investment conclave which began at the NBCC convention centre in Kohima. 

Adorned in traditional Naga attire, the Union Minister, while addressing the gathering, shared about what prompted her to visit the state.

She recounted a conversation she had with Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio in March, where the CM raised concerns that Nagaland does not get CSR, and is not drawing investors. 

“I didn’t disagree with him them. I want to highlight today that just that one quote of the CM to host the CSR and investors conclave in Nagaland has drawn this entire business leadership to Nagaland. Just that one call from CM and it was an anxious voice then, and I don’t want it to be heard again,” she said. 

Sitharaman said it was certain for that one single call to draw investors to the state and let them know that Nagaland should be a natural choice, which is why the government has been branding the state as “naturally Nagaland”.

While it takes a bit effort, she said that little effort of the CM has brought in investors for the conclave and that it can even be better. The Union FM, however, highlighted that calls for CSR will have to have some reality check. 

There are problems in people’s expectations about CSRs as it can happen when investments happen. To this, she said that states like Nagaland face the conundrum. 

The conclave, she opined, is a first stepping stone towards having greater CSR and potential investment in the state. 

In list of CSRs, she pointed that there is greater interest in healthcare, particularly primary healthcare, and in logistics. She suggested that the youth in Nagaland can be brought in and that the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) proposal to set up a training centre can add skills and proper certification to the educted Youth. The FM added that the youth of Nagaland carry themselves well, communicate well and have great strengths. 

She also goes on to say that logistics in India is going to be big and there is an investment pipeline–brownfield and greenfield–to strengthen the infrastructure of the country, which will make way for the skilled young people. 

Identify a product; brand it

The Union FM encouraged the Nagaland government to identify a product from each district. On this point, she said that the Centre is coming up with good plans to build common facilities for packaging or processing. 

Her advice is that branding is important, and so there should be efforts to identify products with certain kind of image projection. There is a global market waiting, she added.

Need for Science & Technology

Sitharaman highlighted that students in Nagaland must step up in the study of science and technology. As the Atal Innovation Mission is establishing Atal Tinkering Laboratories (ATLs) in schools across India, she said that the labs should have been there in Nagaland by now as students will benefit through it. 

She also highlighted about eco-tourism potentials and urged the government to have an innovative approach to tourism in the state. 

Further, she recommended for the creation of a Task Group consisting of Naga youth who can move around the country along with some government officials to convey messages of the state, seek startup and help in building a brand for the state. 

Nagaland has to also catch up and develop, she said, further adding that India cannot develop without in all parts of the country. 

She also took time to thank the investors who came all the way to Nagaland to show their interest in the state. 

Nagaland Chief Minister, NeiphiuRio speaking at the CSR and Investment Conclave said that the conclave would be a game changer for Nagaland. He acknowledged the FM and the Central Government for bringing greater focus on the development of the North Eastern region.

The Chief Minister said there is scope and potential for companies to increase their Corporate Social Responsibility spending in Nagaland and the Conclave would provide a platform to harness the various opportunities the State offers. 

He added that in seeking CSR investments, the state government is not trying to replace its own development initiative but only will deepen engagement with the private sector and banks, encourage partnerships between local entrepreneurs, start-ups and established companies across the country.

Also read | Nagaland Olympic & Paralympic Games: Around 3,500 athletes to compete

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