Freebies can turn a state pauper, says Venkaiah Naidu
"India is growing at a faster pace, yet we must not forget that 20 per cent of the country's population is below the poverty line and 20 per cent is illiterate. These are the challenges before India today and can be tackled with development as the agenda and reform as the process," said Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday at the India Today State of the States Conclave held in New Delhi.
The Vice-President also gave away awards to the winning chief ministers of India's best performing and most improved states. In an appeal to political leaders across party lines, Naidu said that all political parties must work together for the development of the country. "They are not enemies. They are political rivals. Despite political and ideological differences, the Centre and the state must cooperate and work together for a developed and prosperous India," he said.
Recounting his visits abroad in last one year, Naidu said that India's growth story was now globally well-recognized. The time now is not to decentralise the development process and for that, he offered the '3Fs' formula. "We must empower the local bodies, and to do that we must provide them with funds, functions and functionaries. The local bodies are the ones which execute development projects at the grassroots level," he said. The Vice-President criticised short-term solutions like loan waiver and free power, cautioning political leaders against indulging in such practices. "Freebies can make you popular but will make the state a pauper. The farmers need assured 24x7 power, not free power," he said. Giving the example of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure as Gujarat chief minister, he said that Modi never offered free power, yet returned to power thrice in the state.
Naidu also appealed the media to promote stories of development like Sikkim's success with organic farming -- which can inspire other farmers. He lamented that development has vanished from media's agenda through "stories of development are spicier". He added, "Views are shown as news and this must stop."
Known for his witty one-liners, the Vice-President was in full flow when he offered a piece of advice to those who seek public life. "If you have glamour, grammar and humour, then there won't be any scope for any rumour," Naidu said, adding that just one of these three attributes would not suffice. "You need to have a combination of all."
Earlier in the day, four award-winning chief ministers -- Tamil Nadu's Edappadi K Palaniswami, Assam's Sarbananda Sonowal, Gujarat's Vijay Rupani and Puducherry's V Narayanasamy -- shared their mantra of development to an engrossed audience. There were stories of Assam's vegetables selling in Dubai and London, Kutch emerging as Gujarat's Singapore.
India Today State of the States
The India Today State of the States study was first launched in 2003. It is a novel evaluation process of Indian states -- which has now come to be regarded as the final word on the social, economic and ecological health of the states. Based on objective data sourced from government and other authentic sources, the aim of the study is to assess the performance of Indian states across various categories such as the economy, agriculture, health, education, infrastructure, law and order, governance and environment.
The 2018 study was conducted by leading research agency Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA).
The 31 states were segregated into big and small based on population and geography. The states with a geographical area of over 35,000 sq km and a population of more than five million were categorised as 'Big' while rest were clubbed as 'Small'. The states are ranked in two segments-'Best Performing State' and 'Most Improved State'. In the former, latest performance of a state specific to a category based on recent data is examined. In the latter, improvement of a state in the last five years based on outcome-based positive changes are examined.
The performances of the states were examined under 13 categories-overall, economy, infrastructure, agriculture, education, health, law and order, governance, inclusive development, entrepreneurship, environment, cleanliness and tourism. This year in overall 'large states' category, the 'best performing' is Tamil Nadu and the 'most improved' is Assam.
In the 'small states' segment, the overall 'best performing' is Puducherry, while the 'most improved' is Tripura.