Navneet Sehgal, the man behind the successful implementation of the scheme, spoke to this newspaper.

New Delhi: The “One District One Product (ODOP)” scheme launched by the Uttar Pradesh government three years ago, has led to the revival of the local arts and artisans who were facing existential crisis.
The Sunday Guardian spoke to Navneet Sehgal, a 1988 batch IAS officer, who is presently posted as Additional Chief Secretary, MSME, Export Promotion, Khadi & Village Industry, and is behind the successful implementation of this scheme. Sehgal, who was also given the charge of the Information department by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath post the Hathras incident, explained how the state was able to control the spread of Covid-19 despite it having the largest population and witnessing a massive influx of migrants. Sehgal also elaborated on how due to the effective implementation of law and order in the state, the state was witnessing increase in investments from foreign companies. Edited excerpts.
Q: There is a lot of curiosity, both at the national and the international levels, about the One District One Product (ODOP) programme of the state government. Has it, and if yes, how, has it benefited the local artisans? 
A: The programme was launched with the intention of benefitting the artisans and development of clusters of traditional craft, handicraft and small industry in the state. ODOP recently completed three years and so far, around 80,000 artisans have been trained and more than 4 million people have been employed as part of the initiative. While the overall exports have risen from Rs 80,000 crore to Rs 1,20,000 crore in three years, the exports through ODOP scheme have risen from Rs 55,008 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 65,982 crore in 2018-19.
One of the core objectives of the ODOP programme is to “discourage migration by improving income and local employment in the state”. ODOP project aims to have stringent monitoring measures to prevent unethical monopolized practices of middlemen and ensures fair wages to artisans for their arduous work. Through its Common Facility Centre (CFC) Scheme, financial assistance of up to 90% of the project cost of a CFC is being provided by the state government.
15 ODOP products have been awarded GI tag while the process to register 10 new ODOP products is under process. Nine ODOP summits have been conducted; 75 ODOP Udyam Samagams have been conducted–one across each district of UP; showcased ODOP products at Surajkund, Delhi Haat and have opened a shop at the Statue of Unity. A Hunar Haat is currently ongoing in Lucknow with ODOP as its theme.
We have also launched an ODOP e-commerce platform called the odopmart.com where over 20,000 ODOP products are being sold. We have tied-up with organizations like Amazon.in and Amazon Global, Flipkart.com, eBay, Quality of Council of India (QCI), Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) and others to market the products built by the artisans in an effective way.
Q: Will you agree with the assessment that many good government schemes lose their shine because the monetary assistance that needs to go to the intended person often lands up in the hands of the middle and government officials? How have you ensured that this does not happen with ODOP in particular and the other financial assistance programmes taking place under the MSME department under your supervision?
A: First of all, the entire process is online; so it leaves no scope for any middleman and our department is quite dynamic and result driven. We are ranked second in the country in terms of “Ease of Doing Business”. Moreover, we have the “Nivesh Mitra” portal which works as a single window system for application and clearance of projects. It ensures the ease of doing business and addresses all grievances of investors. The “Nivesh Mitra” portal offers 146 services across 20 departments.
Q: Uttar Pradesh government was successfully able to control the spread of Covid-19 despite lakhs of migrant workers entering the state and many workers from different states passing through it on their way to their home states. What made this possible?
A: Uttar Pradesh with roughly 24 crore inhabitants (as per 2011 census), is the most-populous state in India as well as the most-populous country subdivision in the world. And we received around 40 lakh of migrants from all over the country. To deal with the pandemic which was capable of overwhelming the healthcare system, it was quintessential for the government to innovate at the outset.
We implemented a large range of non-pharmaceutical interventions to control the spread of the virus and although these measures differed in their level of stringency (i.e, the severity of the measures), they proved their worth.
The combination of immediate risk assessment driven by science, with the decisive actions of the government at an apt time helped Uttar Pradesh contain the virus.
The state’s efforts and strategy have even been recognized by the WHO. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath decided to set up a Team-11 comprising 11 senior officers, to review the measures taken by the government in management of Covid on a daily basis. Each officer was given a specific task to be carried out by him in coordination of other officers.
The officers/team was selected keeping in view the issues public was likely to face because of Covid restrictions. For example in the Agriculture sector, it was for the government to ensure hassle-free harvesting and in the Industrial sector, it was to be looked into that all important industries like those dealing with medicines, medical equipment worked without any difficulties. Similarly, attention was to be paid to those units which were dealing with essential commodities.
As a pro-active protective measure, the CM had sealed the inter-state and international borders of the state even before the country-wide Lockdown was imposed. In order to mobilise required funds to supplement health services, the UP government created the ‘Covid Care Fund’.
Uttar Pradesh was also the first state to undertake skill mapping of more than 20 lakh migrants and announce policies to assure employment to returning workers within the state. It had launched a skill mapping exercise of all returning workers to get an assessment of what employment can be provided in situ. The state government also signed MoUs with various industries for creation of 11 lakh jobs within a year. While FICCI and IIA accounted for three lakh jobs each, realtors’ body NARDCO and the Laghu Udyog Bharti had agreed to provide jobs to 2.5 lakh each to migrant labourers.
Q: You have worked with multiple Chief Ministers including Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and now Yogi Adityanath. If you have to identify the three top priorities of the present CM, what would that be?
A: The government under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is dedicated towards maintaining law and order in the state, empowering farmers and women and transforming the infrastructure in the state which in turns creates employment opportunities.
Q: Uttar Pradesh was known for crimes and criminals. How safe is Uttar Pradesh now, especially for foreign based investors who are looking at UP? And how would you address their concerns regarding red-tape and corruption at government level?
A: Law and order is the prime focus for our government. If you look at the figures of “Crime in India 2018 and 2019” published by NCRB, Uttar Pradesh ranks far behind several other states in terms of registered cases of crimes in India. In other words, it is ahead of many states in terms of controlling crime. It is precisely for the same reason that even amidst the pandemic Covid-induced lockdown last March, it has received investment proposals worth Rs 53,000 crore.
Samsung has set up a project worth Rs 5,000 crore in Noida to manufacture mobile phone display screens—moving its project from China, because of the Ease of Doing Business in the state. Uttar Pradesh recently emerged as top destination for investment and as the second-best state for Ease of doing business. UP has jumped from the 12th position in Business Reform Action Plan (BRAP) 2017-18 to the second position in BRAP 19. UP has left behind several leading states such as Gujarat, Telangana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra etc in the EoDB annual rankings.
PepsiCo has invested a sum of Rs 8,000 crore to start a plant in Mathura to manufacture potato chips.
“Invest UP” has been established for facilitating and handholding investors. Unlike similar organisations in the country which either focuses on investment promotion or investment facilitation, Invest UP has been mandated to carry out both the activities to provide complete investment life cycle support to the investors.
To facilitate various new investment intents, the state government has created dedicated helpdesk within Invest UP to handhold leads including those from foreign countries.
Q: Till now, we have not seen a culture of “start-ups” getting popular in Uttar Pradesh. Is the government thinking of making policies that will attract start-ups?
A: We currently have the UP Startup Policy-2020 which is proving to be extremely popular among the start-ups. Uttar Pradesh has witnessed an exponential rise in start-ups with 3,406 start-ups setting up base in the state in the last three and a half years, registering a massive increase of 1700% from just 200 in 201 7.  This has provided employment to more than 22, 000 people.
The seed capital is given in the form of Marketing Assistance up to Rs. 5 lakh per start-up up to 10 start-ups per incubator per year to launch the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in the market.
Under this provision, the seed capital is disbursed in milestone-based instalments, for example, 40% + 30% + 30% in three tranches, the first being advance and remaining two on completing the milestones. On disbursement of the first instalment, start-ups shall have to commit Key Performance Targets to the PIU on which they will be assessed before releasing the second and the third instalments of the grant.