By B Yerram Raju
Telangana, the 12th largest State in India, will soon be the most dynamic State though the youngest among the States in the Republic of India. The State was virtually stagnant prior to its formation through the AP State Reorganization Act 2013 with a heavy shortage of power, lowest groundwater levels, poverty and shrinking employment.
From the very beginning of its formation, it was on a promising path with K Chandrashekhar Rao, the leader who brought the State into being against enormous odds, had his task well cut out. He held the portfolios of irrigation and power among others – the two in shortest supply in 2014.
Overcoming Policy Challenges
Without brooding over the past neglect, Telangana had three policy challenges: Reinventing the opportunities in the State – particularly, the low-hanging fruits – mining, tourism and other services that required little investment but would provide sustainability to growth; taking the administration closer to the people so that they would feel closer to their dream of golden Telangana – the electoral promise of the party in power; and making the dry Telangana wet and preventing suicides among farmers that the State was notorious for.
The Kaleswaram Lift Irrigation project won aplomb, both nationally and globally, as a pathbreaking initiative that delivered results in a record time. There was an acute power shortage at the time of the formation of the State, adversely impacting the growth of industrial and services sectors.
Ranking 12th in population and 11th in geographical area, it has become the most attractive investment destination with world’s leading technology and distribution companies like Google, Amazon, Intel, Lulu, finding their foothold here.
Flagship programmes like Haritha Haram, 6-kg fine rice per person in a family of five; KCR Kits to pregnant women, Kalyana Lakshmi (Shaadi Mubarak), Rythu Bandhu, two-bedroom flats for the homeless, spatial reforms with the formation of 31 districts out of the ten, panchayat status to tribal hamlets, financial support to each panchayat to grow vibrant with local resources, reforms in cooperative credit with technology leading the way are but a few factors that gave pride of place – the fourth largest growth contributor to the Indian economy, according to the RBI’s Handbook of Statistics on the Indian Economy 2020-21. This article will be a curtain-raiser for two more articles to follow dealing with the contribution of different sectors to the unparalleled growth of this young State.
Income per person up; rural poverty down; smartphones in the hands of farmers are guiding them to new technologies and markets and the self-help groups and the poor are moving to mobile banking. Linking the tanks through Mission Kakatiya and drinking water availability with Mission Bhagiratha made the dry State wet.
Telangana has become a role model in institutional development with Dharani as the land information system, T-Hub – where several unicorns or technology and fintech startups have been seeded, WE Hub, TS-iPASS, T-PRIDE, TASK, TS-bPASS and Telangana Industrial Health Clinic Ltd (TIHCL), with the main objective of revival and restructuring of manufacturing micro and small enterprises. These institutions stand testimony to good governance where autonomy, transparency and accountability merit unique attention.
Disparities in growth among States
The RBI Handbook 2020-21 reveals substantial inter-State variations in gross State domestic product (GSDP) as well as in growth rates. In 2013-14, the GSDP of Gujarat was 4.3 times that of Bihar and the per capita GSDP of Kerala was 3.7 times that of Bihar. The high growth years are associated with an increase in inter-State income disparities.
Critics may say that the State debt to GSDP has also risen high. Debt should be viewed in terms of the assets created and the longevity of such assets and the earning capacity of the debt-ridden persons. It is this context that should make one look at the rise in per capita net State domestic product. Sectoral contribution to growth in the State clearly indicates the sustainability of growth.
At current prices, agriculture, forestry and fishing broadly classified as agriculture at constant prices grew by over 100% during 2014-15 -2020-21. Agriculture and animal husbandry grew by a little over 19% per annum. No other State in the country could come near this goalpost. The factors that contributed to this growth will be discussed in the next part of the article.
Come 2020-21, the per capita net State domestic product at constant prices (NSDP per capita) of erstwhile high ranking and industrial States like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Punjab were behind Telangana while Haryana, Delhi and Sikkim ranked above. Telangana’s per capita NSDP was Rs 1,53,298 compared with the national average per capita NSDP of Rs 86,659. Even at current prices, with 2011-12 as the base year, the State ranked fourth.
The other most important ingredient of growth is information technology and electronic services. The policy and implementation of ITeS in the State won appreciation globally and the State has almost overtaken the nation’s Silicon Valley. This is the second State, next to Delhi, to have a well networked metro rail service with least interruptions except during the first and second wave of Covid-19.
Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology took pride of place in industrial advancement of the State. This has won the reputation of vax city of the world. The State is not content with these achievements but has a long-term vision and strategy of expanding to its second and third tier cities. The outer-ring road and the other State-wide road network with an eye on maintenance are on its active radar. Although there are a few nagging problems in urban management, health and hygiene infrastructure and cyber security that put the State on a continuing alert, Telangana has become a trendsetter among the States that eye growth as an imperative and not an option.
(The author is an Economist and Risk Management Specialist. Views are personal)
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