From L.S. Herdenia
BHOPAL: Can the government of Madhya Pradesh, whose annual budget is Rs 80,000 crores and which is in the debt of Rs 85,000 crore, fulfill all the commitments made by it to the people of the State?
Some time back, the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan announced that he was determined to make Madhya Pradesh a ‘golden state’. However, given the state’s precarious financial health, can MP touch the heights, which would afford it a place in the comity of developed and prosperous states?
MP lacks the infrastructure for economic and industrial development and still carries the stigma of being a BIMARU state. To achieve the ambitious target of development, the state should have good roads and enough power for uninterrupted supply to farm and industrial sectors.
Digvijay Singh lost the 2003 Assembly elections mainly because his decade-long tenure as chief minister was marked by glaring shortcomings on the power and roads’ front. Uma Bharati, who was the star campaigner for the BJP, promised the people that if her party came to power, it would provide good roads and adequate power supply. The BJP is in power in the State for the last nine years. It will be facing the electorate the next year. But even in this long period, it has failed to fulfill the promise of motorable roads and enough power. The rural areas are still not getting power supply even for eight hours a day.
The state has also failed to utilise its irrigation potential. The state has the potential of irrigating 1459 thousand hectares of agriculture land through major irrigation projects but actually, only 620 thousand hectares is irrigated. Similarly, it has the potential of irrigating 410 thousand hectares each through medium and small irrigation projects but the actual utilisation is only 173 and 183 thousand hectares respectively.
One of the main parameters for judging the progress of a State is the percentage of unemployed persons. The total number of unemployed registered with employment exchanges in the state in 2010 was 19.54 lakh. In that year, only 9.20 thousand could get jobs. The next year (2011), the number of registered unemployed rose to 20.02 lakhs, out of which only 3.2 thousand could find a job. This means that while the number of persons without jobs went up, a lesser number of them got jobs in 2011 as compared to 2010. These figures relate to only urban areas. If we add to this the number of unemployed and under-employed in the rural areas, which may well run into several lakhs, the enormity of the problem would become evident.
Now, let us take the position with regard to education. The percentage of dropouts between class one and twelfth is 62.82. Among the dropouts, the percentage of girls is higher than that of the boys. The dropout rate for SCs is 68.70 and for STs 80.96.
One of the reasons for the massive dropout rate is the lack of educational infrastructure. The total number of school teachers in the State is 2,52,860 but according to RTE norms, the requirement is of 3,80,613 teachers, which means the State still needs 1,27,753 more school teachers. Similarly, the total number of rooms in all schools in the state is 3,35,853. But according to RTE norms, the state should have 4,46,706 rooms. The provision for the school education sector in the 2012-13 budget is hardly adequate to fill-up the gap in terms of both schoolteachers and schoolrooms.
Co-operative bodies play a vital role in the development of rural areas. The co-operative sector has been totally politicised in the State. When BJP was in the opposition, it used to take Congress to the task for politicisation of the co-operatives sector. But on coming to power, the BJP is doing exactly the same and is blatantly using co-operative bodies as tools to further its ends in the politics of power.
The position in respect to Health is critical. According to an estimate, 25 per cent posts of doctors and over 50 per cent of those of specialists are lying vacant in the state. There seems to be little prospect of filling up these posts in the near future. Most of the government doctors are unwilling to serve in the rural areas. Thus, the rural population is the worst hit by the poor infrastructure in the field of health.
The situation is not very happy in the social sector either. Allocations made in the budget for old age pension, social security for labourers, mass marriages, save daughter and family planning campaigns, for construction of ‘Rain Baseras’ (Shelters) etc are grossly inadequate. Moreover, most of the social sector schemes are named after Hindu Gods-Goddesses and rituals. Some such schemes are ‘Kanyadaan’, ‘Ladli Laxmi’, ‘Annaprashan’ and “Jalabhishek’. The minority community members are naturally disinclined towards taking benefit of these schemes.
Meanwhile, there is no end to expending government money for religious activities. The government has recently announced that it would be sending one lakh senior citizens to places of pilgrimage all over India. Critics feel that this decision is not only against the letter and spirit of the Constitution but also exemplifies the skewed thinking of our political rulers. In a State where tens of thousands of children are severely malnourished, the rationale of spending crores of rupees on pilgrimages is difficult to gauge. (IPA Service)