Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao says that on the lines of Telangana, India too needs to be reinvented and reoriented to make it great again. Towards this, the best practices across the globe are to be studied and applied to the Indian situation.
Leveraging country’s strengths and drafting a policy framework to understand where we are lagging is the need of the hour. Keeping this in view, KCR opines that it is absolutely necessary to prepare a national growth agenda for the country taking into account the requirements of various States and strata of society.
Change for Good
The Chief Minister has asked experts, senior bureaucrats and economists to provide guidelines and a road map for the way forward after studying the existing Acts, laws, methods and practices and identify the changes and reforms that must be taken up.
This was the outcome of a brainstorming meeting the CM had with likeminded people at Pragati Bhavan recently. The views and ideas expressed in the meeting, if read against the background and context of KCR’s announcement for a qualitative change in politics, are of long-lasting importance.
With the BJP in power at the Centre, the possibilities of development and taking the country forward appear gloomy. People, by and large, are vexed with Modi and his policies. There is not a single flagship programme of the Modi government worth mentioning. Neither is there anything for the Dalit nor for the farmer.
If people are made aware of it, they will start questioning. If Modi is defeated in the next elections, in the absence of an alternative, it would be the Congress that would replace Modi and the BJP. Will it make any difference? Unlikely. We will again see some new names without any qualitative change.
When KCR took charge of spearheading the separate State movement, he was heckled with comments that he would not be able to do anything. History proved otherwise. KCR made everyone say, Jai Telangana.
Why not the same spirit be adopted at the national level? Both the Congress and the BJP are overconfident and there is a political fragility in the country. It’s time a realignment of political parties took shape. In fact, it will not be a mere alignment of parties but ‘unifying people’. This should be the specific agenda before the team that campaigns for ‘qualitative change’ in national politics.
Consortium of Parties
The political force that can enable a qualitative change in politics cannot be a third front or a federal front but a ‘national party’ by itself or through a consortium of parties.
The Constitution of India is federal in nature. States have powers and the Centre too has its own subjects. The question is why should the Centre keep subjects like rural development, agriculture, rural roads, urban development, education and health with it.
The Centre may keep macro subjects like defence, external affairs and security. Let there be no concurrent list but only two lists — federal and State.
Power to States
There is also a need for structural changes in the polity and judicial reforms. Subjects like reservations should be with the States only as they know the requirements of the people in their States better. It’s also time to redefine as to what is a State and what is exactly a federal government.
The States should be more empowered. More powers must be transferred from the Centre to the States. The State governments must also forego some of their powers to the local bodies. This is the true spirit of cooperative federalism.
The development for the past 70 years has not matched people’s expectations. Safe drinking water is still a distant dream. Electricity is yet to reach many. People still fight for basic needs. Infrastructure facilities are dismal.
For example, there is an availability of 70,000 tmc of water yet we have scarcity for both drinking and irrigating. Tribunals take years to settle water disputes. Around 3.30 lakh megawatt power can be produced but half of the country is still in darkness.
Is this the way the country should be administered? If anything is in excess in one State, it should be made available to other States where there is a deficit.
Can’t we leverage our strengths and our economy? Economists need to discuss this. The broad fiscal policy now rests with the Government of India. Every State has to align with it. The States have no independence. People had great expectations from the Modi government but nothing has happened.
Time for Change
Several reforms suggested by experts in Centre-State relations have been ignored and the federal spirit has been given the go-by.
Innovative programmes of the Telangana government have become a role model for the Centre and other States. For example, the investment support scheme of Rs 8,000 per acre could be taken up at the national level benefiting our 40 crore farmers. Wages to Asha and Anganwadi workers could be enhanced. Mission Bhagiratha could be expanded. There can be a national agenda for river waters.
There is a need to formulate schemes based on the needs of the States. Structural changes in social, judiciary, legislature and administrative areas are required. All these changes will have to be brought about by leveraging the economy better. Political leaders, experts and senior bureaucrats should be made stakeholders in this transformation.
When these ideas are put before the people by a leader who has consistently delivered, like KCR, in the capacity of leader of the proposed national party or a consortium of parties, it will be taken seriously. If we need development, we need to move from merely changing the government to making a radical change, which will catalyse growth of all.
(The author is Chief Public Relations Officer to the Chief Minister of Telangana)