By Dr Ranjith Reddy
One of the important pillars of our federal structure is Centre-State relations. The better the relations between them, the stronger are the pillars of this structure and democracy. And to maintain a balance, the Constitution has clearly demarcated the duties and responsibilities of the Union and States in the form of ‘Union List’ and ‘State List.’
Apart from these, there is the Concurrent list and quite often we have been observing that the Union, taking shelter under this list, is usurping powers of the States. There are umpteen examples with the recent being the farm laws and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill. All this is being done by national parties ruling the country, creating problems for smaller and regional parties as they have less strength at the national level.
Hence, there is a need for a strong federal front – like the one proposed by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao – not only to protect the interests of the States and their people but also to make the national parties understand that they cannot fiddle with the federal structure of the country.
Second to None
The very survival of the Indian Union is dependent on the revenue coming from the States in the form of taxes – an arrangement made under the Constitution. But it is equally true that it is not the arrangement under the Constitution that the Centre will collect taxes from performing States and dole them out to ‘BIMARU’ States.
One argument is that there has to be equidistribution of wealth. But if you fleece performing States and dole out to non-performing ones, what will happen? Both will be crippled and the country will fall into a deep abyss.
Telangana has been proving it is second to none. A ‘toddler’ is competing with ‘sprinters’ and beating them convincingly! The figures demonstrate where this youngest child stands. These are not the figures of Telangana; they are released by the Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation.
The GSDP of Telangana at 2020-21 prices is Rs 9.8 lakh crore – 94% increase from 2014-15 value against the country’s increase of 58% – achieving 3rd rank in the country in terms of percentage of increase at current prices. Between 2014-15 and 2020-21, a State with ‘baby steps’, achieved the 3rd highest average annual growth rate of GSDP.
Telangana contributes 5% to India’s GDP and is the 6th highest contributor. It has also achieved 11.7% average annual growth rate (AAGR) – 3.7% more than the country’s average growth – between 2014-15 and 2020-21 and ranked 3rd in terms of AAGR out of 18 States. More importantly, when the country registered a negative 3% GDP in 2020-21, Telangana registered a positive growth rate of 2.4%.
The per capita income of Telangana stood at Rs 2.37 lakh in 2020-21, 1.84 times higher than the national figure of Rs 1.28 lakh, and is 3rd among States in terms of per capita income.
The CAG states that Telangana achieved 90% increase in State’s own revenue collection from Rs 35,146 crore to Rs 66,648 crore between 2014-15 and 2020-21. Telangana’s AAGR of State’s own revenue collection during this period is the highest in the country at 11.52%.
It is equally good when it comes to sectoral analysis. Is the GoI paying for Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bima, free 24X7 power to farmers, Haritha Haram, Kalyana Lakshmi, Shaadi Mubarak, social security pension, double bedroom houses, etc? Certainly, not. And, primary and tertiary sectors are contributing 83.5% to the GSVA of Telangana.
When it comes to the service sector, Telangana’s IT exports have gone up from Rs 66,276 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 1.45 lakh crore in 2020-21, an increase of 120% between 2014-15 and 2020-21 with a growth rate of 14%. It now provides employment to 6.28 lakh (2020-21). Apart from this, so far, 1.32 lakh government jobs have been given and there are 50,000 more in the pipeline.
For the first time in the country, Telangana is implementing Dalit Bandhu by giving Rs 10 lakh to each Dalit family. It is also contributing Rs 2.72 lakh crore to the Union in the form of taxes and the Centre is giving Rs 1.4 lakh crore through devolution – just 50% of what it takes from the State! The point one should understand is that the performer should be encouraged.
We are a democracy and opposition parties have a pivotal role in highlighting the shortcomings of the ruling dispensation. Making misleading, deceptive and factually incorrect statements by top leaders of national parties in the State will only dent their credibility. An instance: leaders from the State belonging to a national party said the GoI had given Rs 7,000 crore to Telangana to fight Covid. But a reply to a question in Parliament by Union Minister indicates that the GoI has given just Rs 290 crore to Telangana. Is it not a pure distortion of facts and misleading propaganda with the intention to malign?
The performing States should be encouraged but the Union government chose to deny Telangana:
• Rs 24,000 crore recommended by the NITI Aayog for Mission Kakatiya and Mission Bhagiratha
• Rail Coach Factory, which has been the demand for decades and mandate given under APRA, 2014, instead it was given to Latur in Maharashtra
• National Project status to Kaleshwaram though Jal Shakti Ministry’s Investment Committee approved National Project status to Upper Bhadra in Karnataka
• ITIR project sanctioned for Hyderabad but cancelled subsequently for reasons best known to the Union government
• Railways planning to sell 21 acres of railway land in Moula Ali. The Telangana government asked to allot land for its double bedroom housing project for the poor. It was denied
Policies of the Union should incentivise performing States. A performing State like Telangana needs to be encouraged and made part of the growth story and the concept of cooperative federalism should be converted into actionable points.
The stronger the States, the stronger will be our country. So, the Union government has to play a big-brother role, bring all brothers into one roof under the National Development Council or NITI Aayog’s Governing Council so as to write a new growth story post the pandemic.