Place :Chennai Speech Date :14-01-2012
- Happy to be here on the occasion of Pongal. Tamil Nadu and Gujarat share many things in common. Bapu from Gujarat but his consicence keeper Rajaji from Tamil Nadu
- The economy did not take off because, after the Independence, Indian policies were not growth oriented. It was status-quo governance.
- There is willingness to work hard. We are a young nation but, unfortunately, there is total lack of direction in governance at the national level.
- We have to make development a mass movement. We should move away from the politics of caste, religion and region to development oriented politics.
I am happy to be here with you on the occasion of pongal festival. I know pongal is one of the most important festivals of Tamils. In fact this is the festival for Tamils. Pongal is the festival of farmers. It is the festival of thanks giving for the sun god, animals and nature after a good harvest. On this day I share your joy and festivity.
Tamil Nadu and Gujarat share many things in common. They have many links from ancient days. People of Tamil Nadu love coffee . I too like your filter coffee. But Chikkari for making perfect coffee comes from Gujarat. I know you like Ground Nut oil. This is mainly supplied by us. Tamil women love cotton sarees and Gujarat produces maximum cotton in India.
While Gandhiji was from Gujarat, his conscience keeper Rajaji was from Tamil Nadu. Above all, our people from Gujarat what we call as Saurashtra came and settled in Tamil Nadu in large numbers. They have become Tamils by heart and lifestyle and are contributing to the economy, culture and literature of Tamil Nadu.
Similarly there is a huge population of Tamils living in Gujarat, peacefully contributing to our economy. In my own constituency Maninagar, there are more than twenty thousand Tamils. By inviting me for this function Cho is making the social cultural and economic ties between Gujarat and Tamil Nadu more stronger. One more thing also is common between both states- both are ruled by Non-Congress Chief Ministers.
Today is the 42nd anniversary of Thuglak. I remember I was here, for the anniversary celebrations of Thuglak a couple of years ago. Now I am here again, and I consider it my proud privilege. Thuglak is for the thinking people. It has stood by certain values since its launch. It has stood for Truth, objectivity and ethical journalism. My friend, Ashtavadhani Cho has consistently stood for these values with courage and determination for nearly four decades. I need to congratulate him and Thuglak team on this proud occasion.
We see every day a new magazine launched with lofty ideals, but not many are able to sustain themselves. If Thuglak has been able to survive, and improve it is mainly because of you people, the readers and supporters. In fact, the main credit for the success of Thuglak goes to you. I congratulate all the readers here and all over Tamil Nadu for the same .
Thuglak is not for entertainment. It does not cater to the baser instincts in man. It deals with social and political issues. It believes that true democracy and development can be ushered in only if people are politically aware to make right choices. Good governance is the birth right of citizens. Cho for four decades has been fighting for good governance and corruption free governments.
Today, I am here to congratulate Cho, his team and Thuglak on the occasion of the 42nd anniversary. At the same time, I am also here to share some of the concerns that I have not only as a chief minister but also as a citizen of this country. In a federal set up, state governments can be expected to deliver good governance only if the Central government leads the states by being an example. Is that happening in our country?
The great poet and philosopher of Tamil Nadu, Thiruvalluvar has clearly and beautifully told us what good governance is. He says,
Iyartalum Ittalum Kattalum Katta
Vakuttalum Vallatu Arasu
The meaning of this Kural is as follows
Generating wealth, saving wealth, maintaining wealth and spending it for the welfare of the people is the duty of a good government.
Last week, someone asked me a question. The question was that in 1950 the Indian economy was bigger than China. Today China’s economy is three times the size of India. What is the reason? The answer is simple.
The economy did not take off because, after the Independence, Indian policies were not growth oriented. It was status-quo governance. It was more focused on consolidation of power and position of a political party rather than consolidation and expansion of economy. The same situation continued for long time. In took forty long years for the ruling party to realize that the policies they were pursuing were not right.
By that time, the rest of the world including China had leaped ahead. In fact, even in smaller countries like Taiwan and Korea, per capita GDP has grown twenty times in last fifty years. India has achieved only a three-fold increase in the same period. Even after so called liberalization in 1991, only half hearted efforts were made.
Today, the situation is even worse. The country is passing through a very critical phase. On one hand the expectations of the people are rising. Also, the abilities of people to fulfill those expectations are also rising. There is willingness in our people to work hard. We are a young nation and our youth have the aspiration and the ability to scale very high. But, unfortunately, there is total lack of direction in governance at the national level.
The Congress led government at the centre is at a total loss as to what is happening around the world. Moreover, as Advaniji had put it, it is the most corrupt government after independence. Rajiv Gandhi had once said that if 100 paisa is spent from Delhi only 15 paisa reaches the common man. But his party has done little to change the situation.
Many of you might feel that it is easy to criticize but difficult to deliver. No. I am saying all this with the confidence and conviction that its all possible. I will speak from my own experience and from the experience of Gujarat.
Agricultural growth of Gujarat has been around 10% for the past ten years. There are no farmers suicide in the state. But it doesn’t happen overnight.
We have worked on integration of rivers; We focused on creation of lakhs of water harvesting structures. The result is that on one hand surface water is available and on the other, ground water is getting recharged. We have introduced micro-irrigation techniques for optimum usage of water. We have been moving in the villages during peak summer in the month of May to educate farmers on scientific agriculture practices. As a result, farmers income has increased six folds.
Our high agriculture productivity and growth is not only limited to cash crops. It is reflected in horticulture and vegetables as well. Naturally, it has a good effect on the nutrition front. But not resting there, Government is making pro-active efforts by taking steps like fortifying the flour and streamlining the Public distribution system. We have involved the society in a big way to help the poor in nutrition matters.
We have encouraged people to offer healthy food in the schools on their important dates, we have invited the milk producers and dairies to contribute a small portion for the poor pregnant and nursing mothers. Similar interventions initiated by us have become a mass movement.
All our villages are connected with broadband facility All of our primary and secondary schools have computers. Our village Panchayats are connected with broadband and are doing their transactions online. E-Governance has reached the village level. Villagers are able to use this technology also because Gujarat is the only State without power cuts even in the villages.
Gujarat leads in employment generation in the country. Simultaneously we are concentrating on skill development by creating new institutions, new courses and refining the existing courses. In fact, to give more focus to youth activities we are celebrating 2012 as the ‘Year of the Youth’. We began the celebrations only two days ago on the occasion of Swami Vivekanand’s 150th birth anniversary.
We have made our administration easy, effective and economical through e-governance. We have also made it transparent. Be it our e-procurement for online tendering or e-dhara for computerized records, or e-royalty which prevents mining scams . Through Garib Kalyan Melas we provide a corruption free delivery model where assistance under various schemes is given to the beneficiaries under one umbrella.
We have now decentralized our administration upto Tehsil (subdistrict) level so that instead of 26 pillars of development, the state now has 225 pillars of administration.
Friends! in Gujarat, we are working not only for our State, but for growth of the country. With our GSDP growth rate of more than 10%, we contribute highly to the economic growth of the country. That is why I say Development of Gujarat for the development of India If Gujarat is my atma India is Paramatma.
Our efforts in good governance have been acknowledged the world over. But, Gujarat has developed without much help from Central Government. Gujarat has developed inspite of all the hurdles and problems created by the UPA government. I repeat Gujarat developed not with the help of central government but inspite of it.
Friends, Year 2012 dawned upon us with a baggage of doubts and worries due to slow economic growth, increase in inflation, and growing terrorism. Corruption has reached new heights in the UPA led central government, all driven by vote bank politics. People have started wondering if at all there is a government at the centre. Let us look at these issues in detail.
First is the slowing down of the economic growth. Growth rate has come down from 8.5 per cent per annum to 6.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2011-12 It is due to fact that the credibility of the present government at the Centre has hit rock bottom. It has been caught in a series of corruption scandals that has weakened its resolve to govern. There is no clear roadmap, no reforms to correct the slowdown.
Coupled with weak leadership and intellectual bankruptcy the UPA government is a model of indecision leading to a drop in investor confidence.
The current mood of pessimism has already impacted the economy through drop in investments. There is a policy pause all around resulting in a crisis of confidence in the India story. Currently, the dream of the India story is fast turning into an economic and social nightmare.
Steep Inflation, declining production, GDP growth at record low levels, stock market and rupee collapse, rising deficits and rising foreign debts as well as current account deficits - a perfect economic storm!
The most worrisome is that both foreign and domestic investments activity is at low ebb. Restoring the growth momentum is imperative as any further slippage would entail losing a truly historic opportunity of being a global player.
Faster growth also provides the necessary resources to improve the quality of life for all. This opportunity should not be missed.
In these troubling times, Indian industrialists prefer to invest more outside than in their own country. India’s outbound foreign investments outpaced inflows of FDI for the first time in 2010-11: At this rate, outflows may well exceed inflows again this financial year, affecting overall growth!
We talk about Double Digit Growth Rates. Every month, these estimates are revised downwards. This is due to total mismanagement by UPA government. Only this financial year, Rs. 4.7 lakh crores have been borrowed to run the government. It is reflected in high inflation and price rise. It is the common man who is suffering. To top it all the entire government is paralyzed in Delhi. What pride you and I can take as citizens of a progressive India.
Who is responsible for this mess and what is the way out? This situation is regrettable when Dr. Manmohan singh, a world class economist is the Prime Minister. Or it may be because he is only a pawn and the control is elsewhere
The next issue is the safety and security of the people. More than half the area of this country is prone to the threat of terrorism. As far terrorism is concerned the UPA government has no political will due to its vote bank politics. After 9\11, the US government enacted strict laws against terrorism. Enacting of laws and strict implementation gave dividends and there has not been a single attack after that. But in India, even after 26\11 attack in Mumbai, the central government has no will. Not only is it unwilling to come out with stricter laws, it also does not allow the states to enact stringent laws against terrorism.
For example, GUJCOC bill- that is Gujarat Control of Organized Crime has been waiting for four years to be approved by the central government. You won’t do it because you want votes and you won’t allow others to do it because they should not get votes. Can such vote bank politics be tolerated when it comes to national security?
This in a sense is undermining the very federal structure of the country.
Gujarat shares a border with Pakistan and is a very sensitive border state. It is well within our rights to enact a bill to protect our state and our people from terrorism. But UPA government by not allowing us to enact the bill is challenging the very federal structure of the state, despite law and order being a state subject. This is one of the many examples of UPA government trampling on the powers of the state.
Dividing and ruling has been the very core of congress politics. Majority and Minority – this division of the people has been going on for more than 6 decades. Now when the elections of five states are approaching congress has played this game again. The allocation of 4.5% of reservation to minority communities from OBC quota is one such move. Do you think this will help the minority community?
Congress is trying to create a division among them as forward and backward castes. I am not saying this. Some of the Muslim leaders themselves have said this and have understood the vote bank politics of congress very well.
Another issue of national concern would be the proposed Communal Violence Bill. The Bill presumes that the majority community is always responsible for any riot. This is too harsh an assumption and a threat to the peaceful functioning of a diverse nation like India.
It is a dangerous Bill as it harms the federal structure of the Constitution. Not only does it allow the Centre to hold all the powers, it doesn’t even consider anybody a citizen. The Bill treats a person only as one belonging to either a majority or a minority, which is against the secular feature of our constitution.
The Bill in its present form, drafted by National Advisory Council, presumes that the majority community is unjust, and the minority community is the victim. Not only will this be an injustice to the society, it will further lead to communal tensions. These issues are state specific and the state governments should be allowed to handle these issues.
While Swarajya has been attained for more than half a century, Surajya (Good Governance ) is still a distant dream in large parts of the country. It is only through good governance and building transparent systems with a capacity to deliver can India move forward. Unfortunately, corruption has stopped the growth and development in many spheres. For the past two years, the UPA government has been rocked with scandals and corruptions.
Ministers and MPs belonging to UPA or its allies have been either forced to resign or even forced to go to prison. The scandals are not small or negligible. The sums involved are more than the annual budget of many Indian states. The cold attitude of the central government in responding to a series of scams – 2G, Commonwealth Games and many such has broken the trust of the common man. There is an outcry for clean and robust governance all across the nation. Strong, stable and most importantly transparent leadership is the need of the hour. I know people of Tamil Nadu are very particular about punishing corrupt people. The recent assembly elections in Tamil Nadu stands testimony to this. I am sure, the people of Tamil Nadu will help clean the society of the disease called corruption. This would greatly improve the economy of the state as well as the country. The central government interferes in the powers of the state. It attempts to destroy the federal structure by introducing central laws in the matter pertaining to the states. This has always been the attitude of the congress party. In the name of development they have tried to monopolize power and funds at the central level. The financial resources are not divided based on the constitutional rights but are being used to keep the states in a sub-ordinate position.
The residuary powers are with the union and the distribution of powers is biased towards the centre. There have also been repeated attempts to transfer subjects from state list to con-current list using various opportunities and excuses. Of late this tendency has increased. We need to reverse this. The states should co-ordinate with the union government, not remain in sub-ordinate position.
We have a vast country with different languages, cultures, different levels of development and geographical situations. Indian citizens have multiple identities despite the common factor of being Indians. Hence, the federal structure should be in tune with this, respecting the diversity of this land at the same time ensuring unity. Gujarat like Tamil Nadu has always been representing this spirit of unity in diversity, always keeping the interest of the nation in mind but without compromising the needs of the state.
Decentralization and democratization would make the political systems at different levels more accountable and responsive. It will bring in more efficiency in delivery of public services. The state governments are closer to people, and can better understand the problems of people and their needs, and respond better. The UPA government needs to understand this and enable a federal structure that will bring good governance and address people’s problems rather than taking the powers from the state. What we need is co-operation federalism not coercion federalism. Sharing and Caring federalism is required. They are the real pillars of federalism.
What is the dharma of the central government ? In a true federal structure, it is to help the states with policies as the states are the implementing agencies. In matters of national interest there should be consultative process involving all the states.
As I told you, the states were not consulted in drafting the communal violence bill to the extent required. Central government announces policies and programs to push its agenda, without taking into account the capacity of the states. This sometimes imposes financial burden also on the states. The Sarkaria Commission appointed by Indira Gandhi and Punchchi committee recommended that whenever Union Government proposes legislation on Concurrent List there should be prior consultation with State Government.
But even today, nearly after three decades this is not happening but instead more and more centralization is taking place. Not only centralization is taking place, the central government is not able to tolerate if any state is praised. It is vindictive. A CEO of an NGO was sacked for praising Gujarat’s economic freedom.
Political parties can have ideological differences- Left, Right or Centre. But, a new trend has started in the country by Congress – of Individual target politics. If you don’t like a political leader, try to destroy him by any means. With strong prejudice and biases, they make use of every arm of the government, constitutional authorities and Institutions, all agencies at their disposal to cause harm to you. If you have differences, fight in the political field. I have been a major victim of this harassment. CBI is being used; Courts are being influenced through PIL by vested NGOs sponsored by Congress. There is not a single top opposition political leader, who has not been harassed by misusing CBI, Intelligence Bureau, Income-Tax Department and other Investigating Agencies. But, I have moved on because I have faith in people. This kind of negative politics is going to damage India’s development in a big way.
I will tell you how I view federalism from my personal experience. When Tata Nano was facing problems in West Bengal, my officers used to tell me – Sir, other States are offering incentives to TATA Motors to relocate We should also make an offer. I told them that once Bengal was hub of industrial revolution in India. If West Bengal develops, it will trigger development in Eastern India. We should not fish in troubled waters.
It was only when Ratan Tata came on TV and said, he is withdrawing from Singur that I sent an SMS message, “Swagatham”. Rest is history. Today, Gujarat has become an automobile hub. If India has to establish itself as a major global power, the foundation will have to be strong infrastructure. Unfortunately, currently due to lack of vision, willingness and indecision of the central government the infrastructural growth is not happening.
For uniform growth across India, the government will have to fulfill the infrastructural needs of good roads, ports, power, airports, etc. Then only will our dream of a prosperous Bharat can be realized. There are comparisons made between India and China. As far as infrastructure is concerned we are nowhere when compared with China. I saw this myself during my recent visit to China.
Given the current liquidity problem in the market, it is the government who has to majorly invest and drive the infrastructural growth in this country. If we ever want to remain in competition with China or win over china, Government of India should focus on infrastructure development in a big way.
The other area of concern is the manufacturing sector in India, still hostage to huge regulations. There is an urgent need to review these regulations and increase flexibility in labour laws. In fact, labour should be made a State subject. The slowdown in world economy should be made an opportunity for India to attract manufacturing activity from across the world.
Ensuring agricultural growth at the national level is another area of concern for all of us. We need huge investments in the field of agriculture to ensure food security. Indian farmers are switching to commercial crops at an alarming rate in recent times and this has resulted in a huge shortage in the supply of pulses, edible oils and coarse grains which forces the central government to import them.
This is a major threat to our goal of attaining self-sufficiency in food grains. A solution could be spatial specialization in the agricultural sector that will increase productivity and ensure higher agricultural growth rate. At the same time, it is imperative to take corrective measures, give incentives, implement modern agricultural practices and provide the farmer with the necessary farm inputs, knowhow and a conducive environment to improve the productivity of the land. Along with food security, regional imbalance is one of the biggest challenges that India faces today. While one part of India has been witnessing rapid growth and progress there are still vast parts of the country that are underdeveloped. The regional divide needs to be reduced and the development needs to take root in every nook and corner of the country. Development is the main antidote for fighting national threats such as naxalism.
What one needs today are good governance and a commitment to create productive assets. Hence, the focus should be on skill up gradation and providing sustainable employment rather than simple distribution of funds under MNREGA.
If India is to fulfill its destiny of being a super power in the coming decades, investments in research and development cannot be ignored. Dr. Manmohan Singh himself has agreed that in R & D we are far behind China.
While China invested 174 billion dollars, India’s investment is only around 17 billion dollars. There is need for greater industry-academic co-ordination. Government of India should wake up to this fact and consciously work towards bringing in private sector investment in Research and Development.
Another major problem area is generation of employment at the national level. Despite UPA government’s ambitious plan to create 50 million jobs in the 11th plan period it could actually create only one million jobs. Of these one million jobs created, most jobs were in informal sector and majority being casual labour. This trend is particularly worrisome when we consider the youth population of India. India is one of the nations with a large youth population. India’s young workforce is estimated to increase by 240 million over the next two decades, and by 2035 India will have the largest working population in the world. In India 65 per cent will be of working age
By developing our talent pool, in one decade our youth will be the engine of growth not just for India, but also for the world. We need to impart skills and take up skill building in a big way.
In short, to conclude I will say we have to make development a mass movement. We should move away from the politics of caste, religion and region to development oriented politics. Where ever I go I see a hunger for development. Vote-bank politics cannot survive anymore.
Today, I have flagged some of the major issues that our country is facing. I am sure, Cho will write in detail about these issues and carry on the work of creating awareness for necessary action. I know and I am sure, that Tamil Nadu, a highly politically aware state under the able leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister Selvi. Jayalalithaa will add to its existing level of development and march forward on the path of good governance.
I hope this thai pongal will show light not only to Tamil Nadu but also to the entire nation. Visiting Tamil Nadu and Participating in Thuglak’ function has given me joy. Once again I thank Cho and the readers of Thuglak. My heartfelt thanks for inviting me here and provided me an opportunity to share my thoughts.
I know, you have three days of Pongal celebrations left- Kadiravan Pongal, Mattu Pongal (in honor of cattle that helps the farmers) and Kannum Pongal. Pongal is a time for celebrations here. Movie lovers expect pongal releases. Book lovers enjoy the Chennai book fare during this time. For food lovers you have sweet, milk and ven pongal. Enjoy those days. Happy Pongal Once again.