The Hindu Business Line
Young pup Telangana snaps at AP’s heel
India’s newest state grabs pole position in ‘ease of doing business’ ranking, as its first-time government takes the fight to its more developed neighbour Andhra Pradesh
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao can barely control his glee. The leader of the country’s youngest State, which (except for the capital Hyderabad) is largely backward in all socio-economic indicators, now stands shoulder-to-shoulder with his bête noire — Andhra Pradesh (AP) CM Chandrababu Naidu, known for his track record in development and administration.
Telangana and AP rank first in ‘ease of doing business’ in an all-India study conducted by the Centre’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), edging out Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home State, Gujarat — a five-time winner in smart governance and industry-friendliness. Telangana was carved out of the erstwhile united AP on June 2, 2014. Within a year, the newbie ranked second in ‘ease of doing business’ and as destination choice for investments and exports, behind Andhra. And in another year, both states jointly grabbed the top spot.
“This has been made possible due to my government’s strategic approach to infrastructure projects — Kakatiya Mission (renovation of 44,000 irrigation tanks ) and Bhagiratha (piped drinking water scheme), with huge investments from government and corporate sectors,” the Telangana CM had said shortly after the rankings were announced.
The World Bank’s recent ‘ease of doing business’ global report had ranked India at 130, just one place higher from last year. To help the country break into the top 100, the Centre embarked on its own ranking exercise to get all States to introduce reforms on par with Delhi and Mumbai and attract investments even to their Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns.
The focus areas for administrative and business reforms included environmental registration, commercial dispute resolution, labour regulation, online filing of tax returns and single window clearances. DIPP’s assessment last year showed that only 32 per cent of the proposed reforms were implemented countrywide. “The performance levels during the current year are enhanced, thanks to digital formats,” said Aravind Kumar, secretary, Telangana industries department.
Telangana Industries Minister KT Rama Rao, who is also the CM’s son, did not hide his joy at the rating of the State — a “two-year-old baby”, according to him — especially because it had stunned Naidu in neighbouring AP. KTR, as he is known, made it a point to attack Naidu, as the latter has often flaunted AP’s “superiority” in administration and governance. “We have shown Chandrababu Naidu that Telangana is equally efficient in utilising opportunities and that we are less than none,” KTR said recently at an official briefing at the Secretariat.
The rankings were based on a 340-point business reform action plan framed by the Centre and its implementation by the States during the period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. Interestingly, four of the seven States with the lowest income levels in the country have found a place in the top 10. This, despite reform implementation levels hovering at just 75 per cent in all the seven States. Chhattisgarh was ranked fourth (97.32 per cent), Madhya Pradesh fifth (97.01 per cent), Jharkhand seventh (96.57 per cent) and Rajasthan eighth (96.43 per cent).
What’s working for Telangana
The TS iPASS online portal (www.ipass.telangana.gov.in) — conceived as a one-stop shop for information, online applications, fee pay-