//Future belongs to Kerala: PM

Future belongs to Kerala: PM

Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 1 (IANS) The next hundred years will belong to Kerala, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday, praising the state for having kept open its doors and windows to the world and adapting to changes.

He also said that another Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and an Institute of Science will be set up in Kerala.

'Fifty years have gone by and you have reached a new level. Now the next century belongs to Kerala,' he said while inaugurating the state's golden jubilee celebrations here.

'You Keralites have kept your doors and windows open to the world and have been able to adapt to changes. The unity in diversity is best seen in Kerala. I am truly delighted to be with you on the golden jubilee of the formation of your state.'

Manmohan Singh, who arrived here Tuesday night, said his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will wholeheartedly support Kerala's demands presented to him by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan.

Referring to the demands, he said: 'Already you have an Indian Institute of Management and now I would ask my minister to see that an Indian Institute of Technology and an Institute of Science are set up here.

'We shall also design supportive policies for coir and cashew and also revitalise the plantation economy.'

Manmohan Singh praised the efforts of non-resident Keralites (NRKs) and asked them to generate newer ideas for the growth of the state.

'The need of the hour for you is to create conditions inside the state to help everyone to be on their own. The state should invest in skill-based sectors to generate newer employment opportunities. The public service should be upgraded to meet the needs of time,' he added.

He also called for the creation of a new political culture of working together.

'Kerala has to look ahead and think anew. Reforms and changes are the need of the hour. Otherwise, yesterday's dogma would be today's prejudices,' said Manmohan Singh.

Earlier, the prime minister laid the foundation stone for two new airport expansion projects in Kerala – a new terminal for the international airport and a maintenance/hangar unit of Air India.

'Our UPA government will give all help for the development of infrastructure of Kerala and we will do everything to improve connectivity, which has been a long-standing demand from here,' he said on the occasion.

Manmohan Singh complimented the efforts of Keralites the world over in keeping India's economy on an 'even keel'.

'The remittances of you Keralites have helped the balance of payments and India's economy is on an even keel.'

The areas where the state was lagging behind were industrial development and knowledge-based industries, he said. 'With the excellent human development index, progress in healthcare and education, you can catch up.'

He gave an assurance that his government would not do anything that would harm the agricultural sector.

'We are aware of the problems in the plantation sector here and you should be prepared to deal with competition in this sector from friendly neighbouring countries. The need of the hour is to use modern technology to improve agricultural productivity,' the prime minister said.

'You have the potential to make a great leap forward and for that the people, political fronts, business and the social structure should come together… And you should never fall prey to sectarian tendencies,' he added.

The prime minister returned to New Delhi in the evening.

© 2006 Indo-Asian News Service