‘When all the states compete among themselves to try and achieve aspirational goals and bold targets, that’s when truly the potential of India will be unleashed,’ asserts Union Minister Piyush Goyal.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
I remember Virat Kohli mentioning ‘No cricket team in the world depends on one or two players; it’s always the team that plays to win.’
And in some sense that has been the approach of Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi when he got around to building trust between the Union government and the state governments and truly bring about a federal system where the states have an equal voice along with the Centre in policy making, in execution of policies, in reaching the benefits of development to the last man at the bottom of the pyramid.
In fact, if one looks at the successful launch and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax, the GST, I believe there can be no better example of true federalism, cooperative and collaborative federalism at play than the finalisation of thousands of items – GST rates, the finalisation of the procedures and processes that would be implemented along with the GST and the entire process being run through complete unanimity.
Not a single decision of the GST Council over so many meetings in the last few years has seen even one voice of dissent while implementing the GST.
We saw the 14th Finance Commission being accepted by the Government of India by which we were able to have a larger share of the devolution of funds from the Centre to the states being untied finances.
Earlier, 32 per cent of the total devolution of funds used to go through an untied mean and the rest were through specific projects.
Prime Minister Modi recognising that different states have different development imperatives, different need for funds, it is best that we increase the allocation of funds which is untied from 32 per cent to 42 per cent as recommended by the 14th Finance Commission.
And we were actually able to give states more voice and more power to implement the projects which are suitable for them.
On a lighter note, as the states are competing to grow, competing to perform, competing to meet the aspirations of the people in each state, we now have a story where states are competing with each other.
So, when Prime Minister Modi was in Uttar Pradesh, he excited or ignited their interest to try and achieve a trillion dollar economy ahead of Maharashtra.
And actually, when all the states compete among themselves to try and achieve aspirational goals and bold targets, that’s when truly the potential of India will be unleashed and we will be able to see all round development and growth across different regions in the country.
All the schemes of the central government, by and large, get implemented through the states. So be it the effort to take electricity to every home in this country in the next nine months.
Within the next nine months, every home in the country, every willing consumer will get the benefit of electricity.
After all, that programme cannot be successful without the active involvement and participation of the states. And in that, every state has its own challenges.
Maharashtra has a challenge to reach electricity to remote tribal areas, deep in the jungles, in the forests, sometimes left wing extremists affected areas. It’s a difficult proposition.
Uttarakhand has a problem of taking electricity to remote homes. It’s a unique situation.
Sushil Modi inherited from earlier times, a situation where more than half the population of Bihar did not have electricity in their homes, but they have taken up the challenge in right earnest and I dare say, the most successful rural electrification programme to reach power to every home would be carried out in Bihar, given the enthusiasm and the active involvement of the political leadership and the bureaucracy working together to give this basic amenity to every citizen of Bihar.
And a very-very active programme on mission mode, I can see before my eyes being carried out in Bihar.
Now, this kind of cooperation where the Centre supports through finances, the states actively implement the Centre’s programmes is the way forward to reach development to every citizen of this country.
We are shortly going to launch the Ayushman Bharat programme where we hope to give free medical treatment worth almost $8,000 per year to every family living below a certain threshold of income, which will cover nearly 500 million people in the country.
Now, 500 million people getting the benefit of medicare — sometimes called ModiCare in India now — is truly transformational in terms of the future of these children, the future of these families.
Very often, many of us are aware families have got into distress largely because of debt taken during the course of an illness in the family.
Now, all of these projects, be it our projects to take the railways into the nook and corner of the country, be it our effort to revive the discoms in the different states, be it the effort to take rural road connectivity to every home cannot be a success unless there was active participation of all the states.
And truly, this country today is demonstrating to the world the true meaning of federalism, the true meaning of working in partnership between the central government and the state governments, working as a team, working as a team to win, working as a team where the nation comes first, working as a team to meet the aspirational goal that by 2022, when India will be celebrating 75 years of Independence, every citizen in this country should have a roof on his head, with clean drinking water and electricity 24×7, a good toilet in his home, good healthcare and education facilities in the vicinity, good transport and road access to the village and home.
And to meet that aspiration, to meet that goal, to meet that target in a short span of time, I think all of us in government at the Centre and the states, are equally committed.
We are all passionate about the job that we have on hand. We are working together through different fora, through different means where we have the NITI Aayog giving us logistic support, where we have organisations like the department of industrial policy and Promotion and the Invest India organisations working to bring industrialisation to different parts of the country.
We are working on getting ease of doing business, cleanliness, getting the different states to work, both in collaboration and competition.
And I think that truly will be the game changing programme that we have launched over the last four years to bring about change in the lives of a billion plus people, a better future for the children of our country, a better future for the planet and India’s contribution to make the planet a better place to live in.
Edited excerpts from Union Minister Piyush Goyal’s speech at a discussion with chief ministers on the ‘Vision of infrastructure development in India’ in Mumbai, June 25, 2018.
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