States Business Acumen
Three cheers for Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The two bifurcated States have shown tremendous resilience since 2014 and given Modi’s Gujarat a run for its money. Chandrababu Naidu’s AP, however, has been able to shown the thumb to neighbouring Telangana’s KCR this year and taken the top slot in ease of doing business. Last year, the two southern States had jointly shared the No 1 slot in the list prepared by the World Bank and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), but this year, Telangana has slid to No 2 position. Interestingly, post Narendra Modi era, Gujarat has been slipping – from top post in 2015 to third last year and eventually fifth this year! While it’s cannot be said with certainty that Gujarat’s loss is the nation’s gain, the reforms ushered in to attract both domestic and foreign investors have made the States go into fierce competitive mode. Surprisingly, Haryana has bagged the 3rd slot, followed by Jharkhand (4), Chhattisgarh (6), Madhya Pradesh (7), Karnataka (8), Rajasthan (9) and West Bengal (10). The nation’s capital, Delhi has ranked a poor 23rd, and will try to take solace that it isn’t exactly at the bottom of the list which includes Meghalaya, Lakshadweep and Arunachal Pradesh. These States have unfortunately not shown any inclination to improve business climate. However, there is hope: in all 17 States achieved a ‘reform evidence’ score of over 90 per cent and 15 achieved a combined score of 90 per cent and more. Which State will give the other a run for its money, is worth a constant watch.
UP’s Taj & Paris
Learn from the French, is a terse message to both the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government. “There is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Perhaps it is nothing compared to Taj Mahal. Eighty million people come there (Paris). This is eight times more than what we have. You can destroy the Taj, we don’t want to do it,” is what the Supreme Court told the authorities on Wednesday last. Exasperation was writ large as the two-member bench, monitoring steps for preserving the Taj, further stated: “UP is not bothered. No action plan or vision document has come yet. Either you demolish it (Taj) or you restore it.” Obviously, its earlier order of putting a moratorium on expansion of industrial units in the Taj Trapezium Zone and checking impact of pollution on Taj’s marble seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The court is to hear the matter daily and if the authorities come out convincing by the deadline set, month-end, it would be the ‘eighth wonder of the world!’
Maharashtra Fails Miserably
Nothing can change. That’s what the nation’s financial capital Mumbai has the country and the outside world believe. Sadly, it’s the same old story every monsoon year after year. The BJP-Shiv Sena government has failed miserably to fight the monsoon blues. The city is flooded and the people’s misery finds no end. Satellite townships of Vasai, Nallasopara and Virar were marooned on Tuesday last after rail and road connections to Mumbai snapped. Over 1,500-odd passengers were helpless, stranded for 4-8 hours before they could be rescued as long-distance trains were stalled. Besides, nearly 400 residents of low-lying salt pan lands in Manikpur had to be rescued on boats by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). Schools had to be shut, flights disrupted, office goers forced to stay home et all, as it happens every year. And, what does the Fadnavis government have to say? Prior to the rains, its local authorities assured they were prepared, now during the havoc they say we are monitoring the situation and when the rain Gods oblige and go away they will say ‘all is well’. The big question of accountability gets drowned in the floods.
Bihar Poll Strategy
No cracks in the alliance in Bihar, is a message partners BJP-JD(U) seek to give to the people. On Thursday last, Amit Shah finally put Patna on the radar and met ‘sulking’ Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has recently been questioning the Centre’s moves. While time will tell how ‘mutual respect’ and a seat-sharing agreement for 2019 poll will pan out, Nitish is in the meantime going all out to revive his popularity, particularly among those impacted by prohibition. On Tuesday last, his Cabinet approved amendments to Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016, to water down provisions, such as arrest of all adults, seizure of house/vehicle where liquor is recovered etc. so that people are “not harassed unnecessarily.” Apparently, since April 2016 over 1.4 lakh people have been booked under this law of which the SCs, OBCs and EBCs faced the most brunt. Nitish realises that the marginalised section is his big vote bank, which he must hold on to come what may.
MP Poll Wary
Madhya Pradesh is wary of any election as of now. Adversity should be kept at an arm’s length, seems to be the BJP government’s strategy, till of course when it has to bite the bullet, Assembly polls year-end. Not only have elections to 257 agriculture produce marketing committees been deferred, but so also to five urban local bodies. It managed to prevail upon the State Election Commission not to issue the notification on Wednesday as ‘reservation of wards for SC, ST and women in these five bodies hadn’t been published in official gazette.’ Who is the culprit? The government of course as the responsibility to issue the notification is its. The next obvious question: did it do so wittingly or unwittingly? Rival Congress says it’s deliberate and ‘undemocratic’: “the BJP is scared of losing as it has done precious little for the people” and doesn’t want a ripple effect in the big battle. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan would do well to take on the Opposition by doing the needful. Sooner the better?
Himachal’s Cow Sanctuary
Gaushalas (cow shelters) will soon be passé. Himachal Pradesh is soon to set up cow sanctuaries instead. On Tuesday last, BJP Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur inaugurated such a project at Kotla-Barog, covering an area of 107 bighas, to cost Rs 1.55 cr. This says the government, will provide a suitable ‘natural living environment’ and grazing facility to 500 stray cows. The animals will be ‘free to roam in the area fenced’ instead of being kept indoors and fed in-house as in existing gaushalas. Further, proper sheds will be built, caretakers posted, veterinary services available etc for the experiment to succeed. Insofar as funding is concerned, the government has already thought of a kitty-it takes one rupee cow cess on each bottle of liquor sold in the State and has made it mandatory on temple trusts to shell out 15 per cent of annual earning for existing gausadans/gaushalas. All the name of protection and ‘enrichment’ of the cow! It would not be uncanny if one heard beggars and the homeless in the State wishing for being born a cow in the next birth. —INFA