Nation needs new direction, says CM KCR

Nation needs new direction, says CM KCR
Nation needs new direction, says CM KCR

Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrashekar Rao, during the first week of March last year for the first time, advocated the need of a qualitative...

Chief Minister of Telangana K Chandrashekar Rao, during the first week of March last year for the first time, advocated the need of a qualitative change in the country's governance scenario, which has been in a rut for the past 70 years and hinted at he himself leading the emerging alternative. He said the present political atmosphere in the country at the national level lacked novelty and innovation in their thinking and working.

He believed that the demand for change for the better would come from people and the leadership to bring about such qualitative change would emerge automatically as was done in the past. On the proposed political alternative at the national level, the Chief Minister said, what is important is not which alternative will emerge but there is a simmering discontent among the people on both the national parties.

A year later, sharing his thoughts in the form of national concerns with the Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission during his visit to Hyderabad in February this year, Chandrashekar Rao literally spelt out the likely philosophy of his campaign in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections.

As a nation, mentioned the Chief Minister, India needs to introspect where it stands in comparison to many contemporary nations. A paradigm shift in the institutional structure and official business processing is the need of hour. For instance, if only 40,000 TMC FT of water out of 70,000 TMC FT available in India could be utilized, the entire 40 crore acres of arable land in India can be provided irrigation by traditional means alone.

By following efficient irrigation systems such as drip, sprinkler and piped irrigation, the task of universal irrigation could be achieved. The 5.5 crore acres (14%) of agricultural land which is currently under canal irrigation needs to be increased multifold.

The main impediments for water sector projects like inter-State issues, legal hurdles, delays in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement, poor project planning and implementation have to be overcome. Inter-State River Water Dispute Tribunals which take decades to give their verdict are to be made more functional so that they expedite giving the verdict.

A permanent River Water Dispute Tribunal has to be set up. If legal process is time consuming and insensitive to the national concerns, an alternative dispute resolution mechanism could be set-up.

There is a need to take institutional initiative encouraging the States concerned to discuss the issues and come around to accept a mutually beneficial solution.

The Chief Minister cited the living example of Telangana's Kaleshwaram project which is the result of such negotiated agreements in water sector that successfully resolved differences in water sector with Maharashtra and Karnataka. Preventing frivolous Public Interest Litigations is another issue the Chief Minister highlighted.

Stressing on leveraging economy, wealth and inner strength of India, the Chief Minister quoted the example of China which consistently is maintaining a high growth rate since 1979 due to its proactive and visionary approach. East Asian tigers like South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan and ASEAN countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Philippines, etc., achieved miraculous growth.

Japan rose from ashes to become a country with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Country needs a new direction as 70 years have passed since Independence and still, the people are struggling for basic minimum needs. Chandrashekar Rao suggested that national agenda has to be changed since routine budgets year after year and usual methods and conventional thinking will not bring any big changes. The country has to get rid of poverty of thought and plan big instead of incremental thinking! Out of the box thinking is the need of the hour.

States are to be empowered by setting a development-centric national agenda and move away from centralisation. India needs a new economic model that has States in the forefront. Growth of the States is the growth of the country. If the country has to grow and achieve its potential, each State has to grow duly leveraging its resources and potential. States need to be given more space to prioritise issues at their level. Including of numerous Centrally-sponsored schemes in the subjects listed under the State List has to be changed.

States expressed the view that the Concurrent List has been operated by the Union in a monopolistic and unilateral manner as if it were a second Union List. On the subjects listed in the Concurrent List, most of the laws are made by Parliament like criminal law, forests, bankruptcy, trade unions, welfare of labour, legal, medical and other professions, education, electricity, etc.

Even some of the subjects which were earlier in the State List like education, forests, weights and measures, protection of wild animals and birds and administration of justice, were also brought to Concurrent List by 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, thus restricting the subjects of the States further. As suggested by Sarkaria Commission that in cases of proposed legislation on a subject in the Concurrent List, prior consultations are to be held with State governments individually and collectively in the Inter State Council.

Agriculture, education, health, urban development, rural development, housing, drinking water, sanitation, and women and child welfare are subjects which are best left to be handled by State governments. Large number of Central sector and Centrally-sponsored schemes and sub- schemes should entirely be handled by States as per local priorities.

Though there is a provision of devolution of 42 % of the Tax Revenue (GTR) of the Union, in actual terms, this has never been achieved. The devolved share has been only around a third of GTR. This is mainly due to significant percentage of cesses in the GTR, which are outside the divisible pool.

India needs economic reforms to improve Ease of Doing Business, attract foreign investments, and resolve issues that hinder growth.

For example, removing bottlenecks by improving container handling capacity and turn-around time at ports, improving average speed on National Highways and freight traffic on rail, reducing time to get customs clearance, etc., will improve business environment.

India's infrastructure status is far from satisfactory. If country has to grow faster, we need to improve our infrastructure significantly by spending at least 3- 4 % of GDP every year additionally in our infrastructure sector. To achieve this, country needs structural reforms for higher FDI inflows. These include developing SEZs like China, stable tax regime and no retrospective changes in laws.

Country also needs to bring out an attractive and practical tax amnesty scheme for bringing black money to the country and to invest it in infrastructure. Every Indian should be a proud tax payer and partner in nation building. He may voluntarily pay even if it is just 1 Rupee.

Investment Support of Rs 10,000 per acre (at the rate of Rs 5,000 per crop per season for both Kharif and Rabi) as in Telangana will be a step in the right direction to address the distress in the sector. Increase MSP by Rs.500/- or 1/3rd more of existing MSP. Thereafter the MSP should be increased every year by linking it to the price index as in case of employees' dearness allowance. Based on agro-climatic advantage of each area, there should be area-wise crop colonies to grow specific crops.

(Source: Broad National Interests and Concerns of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao shared with 15th Finance Commission) (The author is CPRO to the Chief Minister of Telangana)

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