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The unease over Ease of Living Index rating

The unease over Ease of Living Index rating
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The unease over Ease of Living Index rating

Highlights

This is not Ahmedabad but Hushaar Hyderabad

"This is not Ahmedabad but Hushaar Hyderabad."

The merchandise exports from Telangana across all categories in 2019-20 were valued at $ 7.4 billion which is higher than the national AAGR of 4.7 per cent.

♦ The key destinations for the merchandise exports from Telangana are the US (28 per cent), China (six per cent), Russia (four per cent), the UAE (four per cent) and Bangladesh (four per cent).

♦ Telangana accounts for six per cent of the electronics production in India and has significant headroom for growth.

♦ The State has been pro-active in enacting its own policy to boost the growth of the sector, it could benefit from the Centre's Production Linked Incentive Scheme and Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Electronic Components and Semiconductors.

♦ Telangana accounts for substantial agricultural produce ranging from rice, maize, lemon, grapes, mango and soyabean. In particular, the State accounted for the highest production of turmeric and sweet orange, third highest production of tea and coffee, and the fourth highest production of marine fish.

♦ Telangana is one of the fastest growing States in India in terms of installation of solar power and ranks second in terms of solar power generation, after Karnataka. In order to cater to the growing energy demand and to facilitate faster uptake of renewable energy, Telangana could further expand its network of solar power plants and attract investments for setting up manufacturing of photovoltaic cells, which are mostly imported from China.

♦ Telangana accounts for about 30 per cent of India's pharmaceutical production, 40 per cent of total bulk drugs production and 50 per cent of the bulk drug exports from India in 2019-20. Over the last four years, Telangana has attracted over Rs 10,000 crore investments.

These are the nuggets we often here from the ruling party bigwigs including top ministers. But still Hyderabad has been ranked 24th in Ease of Living Index by Union Housing and Urban Ministry. What does that indicate? There are two possibilities. One, either the Centre is "partial" in its attitude towards Telangana as is being alleged by ministers and ruling party leaders or the claims of the State government are not correct.

Hyderabad city is fast expanding. We have ORR and now we are going in for Regional Ring Road. It has all the qualities and facilities to be ranked much higher considering the performance in independent surveys conducted by different organisations, including global bodies. City of Pearls is way ahead of other cities in every sense some argue.

It would be desirable if the state government instead of trying to use this for campaign against the BJP in the MLC and Nagarjuna Sagar by election makes a serious review of the reasons for such low ranking.

The fact is that the city traffic is chaotic. Drainage system needs to be modernised. Another three months, the monsoon would set in and if it is heavy as we saw last year then god forbid, the city would once again face deluge. We had heard the government make several promises when it faced unprecedented floods last year but then after that things did not move forward and no measures to prevent recurrence of such a situation has so far been taken.

It is even finding it difficult to convene the budget session citing the two MLC elections and one assembly by poll as the reason. By the time all this political drama is over, we would have reached closer to monsoon season.

Many countries are going in for making best use of technology and are coming up with innovative ideas to make the life of the people safe and comfortable but we do not seem to be even taking note of such innovations. In some countries streetlights have been given unique numbers and geo tagged and all the lamps are integrated into a special map used by emergency operators. But here we make more noise than action.

The former president of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam said, "The dream is not that which you see while sleeping. It is something that does not let you sleep." If the bureaucrats and the political executive realise this, Hyderabad would certainly be in top ten places in Ease of Living.

The biggest problem that the country and the State has been witnessing is that the political opposition has faded away. The Union Government and the State governments ruled by regional parties have been bulldozing opposition parties. Many lured to defect from their parent party so that there would be minimal opposition.

Desertions from one party to another is not a new phenomenon. Even the anti-defection law enacted in 1980s could not stop it thanks to the enterprising political parties which voted in favour of the act for having found ways to circumvent the law. The general experience has been that politicians in financial trouble, either not having enough money or those in excess and under investigation, choose to defect.

This new phenomenon has left the opposition in disarray. The main opposition Congress is in a pathetic situation where it is not able to find a full time president. Other opposition parties are fighting in their backyards. Democracy seems to be more on paper and the ruling parties across the state have got a new alibi to throttle the opposition in the form of Corona restrictions.

There is no point trying to pass on the blame on to Centre. Senior bureaucrats need to analyse why Hyderabad failed to figure in the top ten if not top three cities. It is time they stand up and tell the government where things were going wrong and what immediate and long term measures the government should take up to see that the popularity graph of the city of pearls and the city of Ganga Jamuna Tehzeeb again climbs up the graph so that the people can again say 'I Love My Hyderabad.'

There is no point wasting time in wondering how Hyderabad did not figure in the Ease of Living Index assessment which is done on the basis of economic ability of a city and its sustainability and resilience or ask how could Bengaluru which has bad roads and high cost of living emerge as the top performer in the million-plus category, followed by Pune, Ahmedabad and Chennai in less than a million category and how Shimla was ranked the best, followed by Bhubaneshwar and Silvassa in less than one million population category.

Software employees and others working in different corporate companies have made Hyderabad their home. But that cannot be the criteria for becoming number one in ease of living.

What really matters is local government practices in municipalities across areas of services, finance, policy, technology and governance. Transparency and accountability is yet another criteria. Hence, the government should not dismiss the present rankings without doing an in-depth analysis of the real ground level reasons that made ranking agencies to judge Hyderabad and place it at 24th position.

It would be doing good if such analysis was made before the newly elected GHMC council meetings begin. The GHMC council members irrespective of the parties should focus their attention in making Hyderabad climb up the ladder and find place among top ten cities rather than waste the time on petty issues and create ruckus and thereby do nothing except to waste public money.

The state government on its part should seek expert advice and go in for working out an action plan which could be implemented within a time frame. This ranking by the Union Urban ministry should be treated as an alarm bell and should become an eye opener for the political executive in the state.

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