Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s oft-repeated catchphrase “Team India” to describe the spirit of cooperative federalism will remain an empty slogan if the interests of the States are consistently ignored and political considerations are allowed to guide economic decisions. Nothing illustrates this better than the step-motherly treatment being meted out to a progressive State like Telangana. For a State that has set an example for the rest of the country in terms of innovative welfare and development schemes, Telangana has been handed out a raw deal by the Centre. Be it the failure to keep the promises made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, an arbitrary slash in the allocation of funds or deliberate volte-face on the promised development projects, the NDA government’s approach has been callous and disappointing. The list of unfulfilled promises is quite long: Bayyaram Steel Plant, Tribal University, Navodaya Vidyalayas, Information Technology Investment Regions (ITIRs) and Kazipet railway coach factory. Ironically, Telangana is made to suffer because of the discriminatory and politically biased attitude of the Centre at a time when more and more States are emulating development initiatives of the country’s youngest State. The Centre has slashed the allocations to Telangana in the Union Budget 2021-22 by Rs 3,000 crore while funds by the Finance Commission have been reduced from Rs 1,847 crore to Rs 1,365 crore. It is unfortunate that despite Telangana contributing a lion’s share to the country’s economy, the Centre is showing discrimination in the allocation of funds and reducing the State’s share in the Central taxes.
However, despite non-cooperation from the Centre, the upcoming State Budget is expected to see higher allocations for welfare and development activities. This reflects an unwavering commitment to the round development of the State. By registering a consistently impressive growth rate since its formation and striking a fine balance between welfare and development, Telangana has been a shining example of good governance and facilitator of innovation. Unfortunately, never in the recent past, the threat to federalism was as serious as it is now with the Centre systematically usurping the rights of the States and taking unilateral decisions. In the last few years, there has been a growing tendency to centralisation of powers, be it in the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, devolution of taxes to the States or pushing through the controversial farm laws that are not only detrimental to the interests of farmers but also amount to usurping the powers of the States. High performing States like Telangana will suffer gross injustice with the Central government approving the report of the 15th Finance Commission which recommended a reduction in the share of Central taxes to the States from 42% to 41%.
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