Competing globally: Minister Murugesh R Nirani on Karnataka’s growth story

Close to the heels of the Global Investors Summit (GIS), YourStory caught up with Murugesh R Nirani, Minister for Large and Medium Industries, Government of Karnataka, to understand what’s in store for the state.

Competing globally: Minister Murugesh R Nirani on Karnataka’s growth story

Saturday February 25, 2023,

5 min Read

In India, when one speaks of the IT industry, the image of Bengaluru pops into mind. The Silicon Valley of India is the flag bearer for the Indian startup ecosystem—the third largest in the world.

However, Karnataka’s growth story goes well beyond that.

With significant investments in multiple sectors, infrastructure development, favourable business policies, and improvement in ease of doing business, the state is preparing to become an economic leader.

Close to the heels of the Global Investors Summit (GIS) held in Bengaluru in November 2022, Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory, caught up with Murugesh R Nirani, Minister for Large and Medium Industries, Government of Karnataka, to understand more about all that is in store.

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Talking about GIS 2022, Nirani—who had organised similar meets in 2010 and 2012—shared that he travelled to the US, Europe, Dubai, Davos, and within India, to Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, etc., to make this edition possible.

The summit concluded with the signing of Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) worth Rs 10 lakh crore, with another Rs 2 lakh crore in the pipeline.

In keeping with the current government’s “one district one product” philosophy, these investments are spread across the state, and it has acquired 50,000 acres of agricultural land to build the industrial set-up.

Of this, 20,000 acres are in Bengaluru. The remaining 30,000 acres are spread across the rest of the state.

Karnataka has many factors in its favour, enabling the strong growth planned for the state in the coming decade. Nirani spoke of the presence of skilled engineers and professionals produced by the colleges and ITIs in the region. The state offers moderate climatic conditions, along with a good law and order situation.

In fact, the state is seeing a steady improvement in the ease of doing business over the years.

Bengaluru boasts of a large number of R&D centres and the presence of several Fortune 500 companies, accounting for over 38% of the foreign direct investment (FDI) in India. “Karnataka is competing globally,” Nirani said.

Reiterating the Indian government’s motto of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, the minister said the foundation of this “self-sufficiency and Make in India” philosophy was laid in Karnataka centuries ago by the kings of Mysore, who set up several industries to meet the daily needs of people.

He highlighted the business parks dedicated to different sectors, including auto manufacturing, FMCG, and textiles, established in Hubli, Dharwad, Tumkur, etc.

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While industrial investment will lead to job creation, on the other, youth will be strongly encouraged to start their ventures to become employers instead of employees.

Infrastructure investments have helped the state to build connectivity across all modes of transport. Alongside eight functioning airports in Karnataka, three more will be operational shortly in Hassan, Vijaypura, and Shivamogga. Another five airports are commissioned to have an airport every 100 km.

The central government has announced the highway construction of 5,000 kms. New railway routes are added to save time between key destinations around Karnataka.

In terms of sectoral focus, the state government has signed Rs 2 lakh crore worth of investment in green energy, including hydrogen, solar, wind, and hybrid modes.

Further, it is setting up semiconductor plants in Belgaum and Hubli. Other areas that continue to receive investment include data centres, aerospace, and defence.

Also, healthcare infrastructure is undergoing upgradation, with many primary healthcare units (PHU) converted to 10 and 20-bedded hospitals.

An entrepreneur first, Nirani understood the pain points in business from his personal journey. Talking about his experience, he shared that after completing his engineering, he was expected to join the family profession of agriculture.

However, he chose the path of business amid family resistance, leading him to move out of his home. He started a manufacturing unit with a small bank loan, which he could pay off within a year, allowing him to get credit for a much larger amount to achieve scale.

Later, he ventured into sugar production, realising that farmers in Karnataka had excess sugarcane produce with not as many buyers. The Murugesh R. Nirani Group—now managed by his sons—has emerged as one of the leading sugar manufacturers. Over time, it has also diversified into many other areas.

Nirani shared that he has never restructured his assets or defaulted on a payment, which has allowed him to build strong credibility with lenders. His advice to business owners is to always maintain a good credit standing.

This experience led Nirani to seek a legislative career in Karnataka, allowing him to solve the problems of the business community and bring about amendments. He believes that all ministers should have some experience in the business.

Nirani’s vision for India is to become a country that should be able to produce enough for domestic consumption and have a surplus to export. He said, ironically, countries like Germany and Japan employ Indian talent and export their products to India.

He believes that Indian businesses need to adopt time management, efficiency, and transparency in the business processes of such countries. His ambition is that “Made in India'' should stand for products that people can blindly trust.

“We have to concentrate on quality products,” he said.

Edited by Suman Singh