Cat­a­lysts of Change

It was a pow­er­ful mix of de­bate and ca­ma­raderie at the IN­DIA TO­DAY con­clave as chief min­is­ters and Union min­is­ters dis­cussed cor­rup­tion, gov­er­nance and state fund­ing

India Today - - INSIDE - By Priya Sahgal

It was a pow­er­ful mix of de­bate and ca­ma­raderie at the IN­DIA TO­DAY con­clave as chief min­is­ters and Union min­is­ters dis­cussed cor­rup­tion, gov­er­nance and state fund­ing.

SJaipal Reddy’s first stopover af­ter the Govern­ment an­nounced a petrol price hike was the IN­DIA TO­DAY State of the States Con­clave in Delhi on Novem­ber 4. The min­is­ter for pe­tro­leum and nat­u­ral gas was part of a panel dis­cus­sion de­bat­ing ‘Can Cor­rup­tion Be Cured?’ When asked whether he would also like to speak on Te­lan­gana, Reddy dodged it with a laugh, “I think I will stick to the fry­ing pan.” The mood of the na­tion was re­flected at the con­clave as chief min­is­ters dis­cussed a range of is­sues such as cor­rup­tion, Cen­tre-state fund­ing, pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship, and even Te­lan­gana. Among the six chief min­is­ters present was Arunachal Chief Min­is­ter Nabam Tuki who had taken oath just three days ear­lier. “I worked for three days and won three awards. That’s a good be­gin­ning,” said a beam­ing Tuki. His col­league from Ma­nipur was not so lucky. Chief Min­is­ter O. Ibobi Singh had to can­cel his trip to Delhi 15 min­utes be­fore his flight was to take off due to dis­tur­bances on National High­way 53. The Chief Min­is­ter asked state min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Alaud­din Khan to at­tend the func­tion. Khan, who was un­der­go­ing treat­ment for throat can­cer in Delhi, rushed to the venue, wear­ing a mask. He re­ceived the award with his lips su­tured and hands ban­daged. The spirit of Ma­nipur was on dis­play that Novem­ber evening.

Dur­ing his wel­come ad­dress, In­dia To­day Group

Chair­man and Editor-in-chief Aroon Purie traced the ris­ing im­por­tance of re­gional par­ties—and hence chief min­is­ters—in Cen­tral pol­i­tics. He pointed out that “the na­ture of the Cen­tre has also changed with the rise of coali­tion pol­i­tics and re­gional par­ties... It has weak­ened and at least some power has dis­persed to state cap­i­tals. The fu­ture of this coun­try, par­tic­u­larly in terms of the wel­fare and well-be­ing of its cit­i­zens, there­fore, de­pends on what hap­pens in the cap­i­tals of our 30 states”. In essence, he un­der­lined the dom­i­nant prin­ci­ple be­hind the con­clave—to pro­vide chief min­is­ters a plat­form to de­bate the is­sues of the day. It was in recog­ni­tion of their in­creas­ing im­por­tance as stake­hold­ers at the Cen­tre that IN­DIA

TO­DAY first con­sti­tuted the State of the State awards in 2003.

De­liv­er­ing the key­note ad­dress, Union Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pranab Mukher­jee said these awards have “con­trib­uted to a grow­ing aware­ness of the im­por­tance of pur­su­ing per­for­mance and re­sults in the area of gov­er­nance”. On the chal­lenges fac­ing our econ­omy, he ob­served, “In a glob­alised world, ev­ery sit­u­a­tion that con­fronts us is more com­plex than the pre­ced­ing one, be it in­fla­tion, or de­pressed in­vest­ment sen­ti­ments in the econ­omy or even the un­cer­tain­ties of global de­vel­op­ments. And this is where the pol­icy chal­lenges lie.”

IN­DIA TO­DAY Editorial Di­rec­tor M.J. Ak­bar was quick to ig­nite de­bate on the dais by com­ment­ing that “cor­rup­tion is emerg­ing as the big­gest chal­lenge to good gov­er­nance”. Reddy, who loves a good de­bate even when he is on the los­ing side, then reeled off a list of anti-cor­rup­tion leg­is­la­tion on the anvil. “Our Govern­ment has adopted a five-pronged in­sti­tu­tional strat­egy to com­bat cor­rup­tion. One, of course, is the cre­ation of a pow­er­ful Lok­pal,” he said. But the Govern­ment’s good in­ten­tions seemed to fall short of Ut­tarak­hand’s track record. Chief Min­is­ter B.C. Khan­duri passed Anna Hazare’s ver­sion of the Jan Lok­pal Bill on Novem­ber 1.

Dressed in a spot­less white kurta, Haryana min­is­ter Ran­deep Singh Sur­je­w­ala was the earnest and young quo­tient in the panel. “As a de­ci­sion maker I am en­ti­tled to be wrong. If I have to be right, you have to give me the lever­age to be wrong with­out nec­es­sar­ily be­ing dis­hon­est,” he said. The au­di­ence asked a ques­tion on whether paral­y­sis had crept into gov­er­nance. Reddy, as the de facto spokesper­son for the Govern­ment, de­nied it but Khan­duri said, “Our sys­tem is dis­eased. There is anal­y­sis lead­ing to paral­y­sis.”

The next dis­cus­sion had Ma­ha­rash­tra Chief Min­is­ter Prithvi­raj Cha­van and his As­sam coun­ter­part Tarun Gogoi de­bat­ing whether states get their fi­nan­cial due from the

Cen­tre. Rep­re­sent­ing the Cen­tre was C.P. Joshi, min­is­ter for road trans­port and high­ways. Cha­van said the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion should re-ex­am­ine its pro­grammes for states be­cause “one-size-fits-all schemes do not work well even within states”. So­lic­it­ing funds for his state, he cited five ex­am­ples of large in­fra­struc­ture projects, such as the Navi Mum­bai air­port, which would re­quire over Rs 50,000 crore each. “These are national projects and not Mum­bai’s alone,” said Cha­van with his boy­ish smile. The equally dap­per Gogoi, dressed in a beige band­hgalla, too made a pitch for his state claim­ing the North-east could not be mea­sured by the same yard­stick as the rest of In­dia. He listed prob­lems of ter­rain, in­sur­gency and a short work­ing sea­son (only six months due to an ex­tended mon­soon) unique to the re­gion.

Joshi played devil’s ad­vo­cate. He pointed out that the Cen­tre was al­ready giv­ing the North-east funds on a 90:10 for­mula. Gogoi re­but­ted say­ing the Govern­ment still did not fac­tor in lo­cal prob­lems. Funds for calamity re­lief did not ad­dress the is­sue of soil ero­sion ram­pant in As­sam, he said. When quizzed about los­ing the Nano project to Gu­jarat, Cha­van said Gu­jarat had of­fered a 300 per cent in­ter­est-free loan to the project, some­thing other states could not af­ford. “I don’t want to woo big in­dus­tri­al­ists with in­ter­est-free loans. My farm­ers de­serve in­ter­est-free loans more,” said Gogoi.

It was Congress ver­sus BJP and state ver­sus Cen­tre, both on and off the dais. Khan­duri rushed from the con­clave to meet Hazare while Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh, Madhu Goud Yaskhi, but­ton­holed Reddy at the venue. No awards for guess­ing what they talked about. Cha­van and Gogoi re­called their days as Union min­is­ters and rem­i­nisced about Pran­abda who had left to catch a flight to Kolkata where Ma­mata Ban­er­jee had thrown her lat­est tantrum. The state of the na­tion beck­oned.

CHANDRADEEP Ku­mar/www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com

FROM LEFT: GOASECRETARY(IT) RAJIVVERMA, MO­HAM­MAD ALAUD­DIN KHAN, TARUN GOGOI, NABAM TUKI, NA­GA­LAND CHIEF MIN­IS­TER NEIPHIU RIO,

GU­JARAT RES­I­DENT COM­MIS­SIONER BHARAT LAL, PRITHVI­RAJ CHA­VAN, AROON PURIE, PRANAB MUKHER­JEE, M.J. AK­BAR, CHAIR­MAN AND MAN­AG­ING DI­REC­TOR OFSREI IN­FRA­STRUC­TURE FI­NANCE LTD HEMANTKANORIA,

B.C. KHAN­DURI, HIMACHALPRADESH CHIEF MIN­IS­TER P.K. DHU­MAL, PUDUCHERRYJOINT RES­I­DENT COM­MIS­SIONER JAYANT RAY, RAN­DEEP SINGH

SURJEWALAAND MI­ZO­RAM MIN­IS­TER LAL­RIN­LIANA SAILO

Aroon Purie,

I hope that these rank­ings pro­mote healthy com­pe­ti­tion among states, the kind where each state adopts the best prac­tices of oth­ers .”

S. Jaipal Reddy

Our Govern­ment has adopted a five-pronged in­sti­tu­tional strat­egy to com­bat cor­rup­tion. One, of course, is the cre­ation of a pow­er­ful Lok­pal.”

Pranab Mukher­jee

We all need our he­roes and role mod­els for re­tain­ing our mo­ti­va­tion in pub­lic life. I wel­come these awards.”

B.C. Khan­duri Ran­deep Singh Sur­je­w­ala

VIKRAM Sharma/www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com

Gov­ern­ments must wake up. Their work­ing must change. Politi­cians must be­come states­men or leave pol­i­tics.”

As a de­ci­sion maker I am en­ti­tled to be wrong. If I have to be right, you have to give me the lever­age to be wrong with­out nec­es­sar­ily be­ing dis­hon­est.”

Tarun Gogoi Prithvi­raj Cha­van

VIKRAM Sharma/www.in­di­a­to­day­im­ages.com

Re­gional dis­par­i­ties have widened post-lib­er­al­i­sa­tion and the sense of de­pri­va­tion has in­creased. The Cen­tre needs to work with us.”

One size fits all schemes do not work well even within states. Seventy-five per cent of Ma­ha­rash­tra’s GDP is gen­er­ated by just four of its 35 districts. ”

C. P. Joshi

RAMESH SHARMA/MAIL TO­DAY

States must ad­dress lo­cal in­equities as funds avail­able with the Cen­tre are not un­lim­ited.”

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