UP is always in the news. For all its political importance. But the State is known for its extreme complexity in all its many dimensions, political complexity, political instability and the big number MPs who make up the composition of the Central Government in all desirable and undesirable ways!

UP’s economic and social backwardness is very galling, to say the least! By any parameters of development UP is a laggard. Of course other bimaru States, Bihar, MP and Rajasthan, Orissa and W.Bengal also come to the fore when it comes to count the very basic growth indicators. The Human Development Index is very poor for these States.  If you keep out all the mass-level leaders from the levers of power as the Sonia Gandhi-dictated policy now provides, there can’t be any sustainable solution to the problems at the ground level.  The State level politics, democratic politics, must reflect the State level realities. We mean the political socio-economic realities. If it doesn’t, then what you will be having is either the vice-like grip of the extremist politics is one kind or other. The W.Bengal Leftists, the CPI (M) leftists and their allies are relying on some worn-out thesis of land reforms etc. Only now Mr.Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee gives some hope.


 
The other type of extremist politics we witness is in TN where the two Dravidian parties indulge. In the absence of any valid economic or social vision the only politics they have learnt is that of revenge politics.

In either case the extremist politics, also in Kerala and in the other extreme in the more extreme rightwing politics of Mr.Modi in Gujarat we see the modern enlightened economic and social and secular policies are easy to give up and it is equally easy to go for some type pf extremism or hype that keeps the gullible poor in thrall of their rabble rouser Chief Ministers!

So, now we are back in UP. What is happening in UP?  Nothing, we can’t say but not enough to make a critical dent in its socio-economic backwardness. It is said by an expert that if the UP is allowed to develop on the present pace, it would take at least 100 years for the State to reach the present state of Kerala and TN in critical socio-economic indicators! It is a tiresome job to read all the statistics about UP.A World Bank study, a Profile and Diagnostic of Poverty in Uttar Pradesh makes for chilling reading.

Eastern and Southern UP is identified the poorers of the poor as those who had suffered idiosyncratic shocks such as long-term and costly illnesses. So many losses for the families. So much destitution! The casual labour is still so abundant and so prone to all sorts of deprivation, even  “foraging and begging”! Poor women low caste status are prone to destitution more than other categories. Poverty incidence for agriculture labour is as high as 50-60%, school evolvement 40%, poorest 20% get only 4% electricity.

Even petty land-ownership is seen as social security and prestige. In 1933/34, nearly two thirds of rural households were seen as dependent on earnings from casual labour. Yes, labour migration is very strong in some regions, more so the seasonal migration.  Rural poverty is increasingly associated with casual labour in agriculture and in the non-farm sector. “Land is the most crucial asset for the rural poor. Poverty falls as landownership rises.”  So, the education weakness of the Northern States, so bad in UP, very bad in Bihar and MP and other states there. Only down South you see the competition. In UP, we have a new phenomenon of so many State level leaders now asserting to become the Prime Ministers!  Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and others are waiting in the wings. V.P.Singh has come back with a new outfit. More than his outfit, the Jan Morcha, it is his ideas for the new party and a new formation of a Third Force that merits attention as far as UP and the future of India is concerned.

Says V.P.Singh: “The media might think I have made a comeback. I haven’t. I am busy with farmers’ issues. Unless the farmer’s issues are made electorally relevant no mainstream media takes note. So electoral issues have to be linked to critical issues of the farmers.” So, he is leading agitations and what not. More than that it is his personal stature that makes him nationally relevant. When he launched the Mandal in 1989, it was an infant, as he himself says. Now, he wants his Jan Morcha as a multi-party alliance in which he counts Lalu Yadav, Paswan and the Leftists and also even the DMK, though he did not name it.
 
So, agriculture per se won’t improve unless a whole lot of related issues, like good governance, combating corruption and also politically legitimate ministers at the Centre, Economic growth as such won’t come about. There are lots of good schemes at present. But there is no politically legitimate leadership to implement them.

Public services Delivery in India.
 
The latest World Bank report on the “Public Services Delivery in India, in the States” brings out so sharply what needs to be done. A study of 31 cases are examined in the report.10 detailed study is published as a separate book. Civil service now plays a very critical role. In West Bengal, Karnataka and AP and more so in TN and Kerala, more than 90 per cent of salary of teachers make up the elementary education budget! In TN almost 98 per cent of the tax revenue is consumed by the government employees as salary!

The growing salary burden of the State budgets make for all undoing of the many plans on paper. “Employees have effectively captured control over state spending in health and education and diverted most of it to themselves through salaries, with the negative consequences for service delivery. It is worth noting that the ratio of average public to private sector wage is now 233 per cent compared to 192 per cent a decade ago” Teachers constitute now some 40 per cent of the total  size of the civil service, but not the senior civil servants who are actually paid less than the market wage for their services”. “It is this imbalance led the MP government under Digvijay Singh to hire para-teachers with so much success in elementary education, enrolment of children etc.”(Institutional Innovations in Public Service Delivery in India by Vikram K.Chand).
So, State level politicians can do and undo much good work, depending upon their personal inclinations, and level of education, vision and competence.

Bengal paradox

Bengal where big farmers are gaining

West Bengal for long had made us, outsiders; believe that it is land reforms that had made the State number one in agricultural production. So, the recording of the tenancy had made all the rural land owners helpless. The tenants-led party workers, the party local units also led to the tightening of the panchayat raj institutions. So, election after election, the Leftists won power, very much like what the Dravidian parties did in TN. In West Bengal, the latest election saw the opposition combined vote share had gone up to 49.8%. The latest Economic Review show big farmers are gaining small and marginal farmers losing.   The land reforms didn’t proceed further than tenurial security, the Operation Barga, and this was taken as an all-time solution.

But then these very same land reforms have proved the State’s undoing. The State is now seen as very backward in education, health and rural development and more so in industry too. Bengal was once the capital of an industrial India, not anymore.  In Bengal, agriculture had become unviable with very unviable holdings of landownership. The eviction rate for the 300 share croppers is currently at 15%.In tribal and Rajbongshi-dominated districts of south and north Bengal respectively, the eviction rate for the sharecroppers is as high as 25%-30%.

This should not come as news to any other States, where too land ownership itself is becoming unviable. May be in UP, in the old feudal areas landownership might still be a reality, not in industrially advanced states and regions. In a district like Coimbatore, so industrially advanced than any other district in the country landownership is no more a viable economic activity.

The intergenerational mobility, as they call in West Bengal, did not accrue to the marginal peasantry. It has only strengthened the upper-caste middle and upper class peasantry. The very word peasantry is a leftist jargon; no one uses such word these days.

The talk now fashionable, the empowerment of the poor and small farmers is so bogus that you can’t empower anyone unless he or she gets education and jobs outside the agri sector, right?

So, the education weakness of the Northern States, so bad in UP, very bad in Bihar and MP and other states there. Only down South you see the competition. The latest World Bank report on the “Public Services Delivery in India, in the States” brings out so sharply what needs to be done.

A study of 31 cases examined in the report.10 detailed study is published as a separate book.

Civil service now plays a very critical role. In West Bengal, Karnataka and AP and more so in TN and Kerala, more than 90 per cent of salary of teachers make up the elementary education budget! In TN almost 98 per cent of the tax revenue is consumed by the government employees as salary! The growing salary burden of the State budgets make for all undoing of the many plans on paper.

“Employees have effectively captured control over state spending in health and education and diverted most of it to themselves through salaries, with the negative consequences for service delivery. It is worth noting that the ratio of average public to private sector wage is now 233 per cent compared to 192 per cent a decade ago” Teachers constitute now some 40 per cent of the total  size of the civil service, but not the senior civil servants who are actually paid less than the market wage for their services”. “It is this imbalance led the MP government under Dig Vijay Singh to hire para-teachers with so much success in elementary education, enrolment of children etc.”(Institutional Innovations in Public Service Delivery in India by Vikram K.Chand).

So, State level politicians can do and undo much good work, depending upon their personal inclinations, and level of education, vision and competence. In UP, we have a new phenomenon of so many State level leaders now asserting to become the Prime Ministers!

Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and others are waiting in the wings. V.P.Singh has come back with a new outfit. More than his outfit, the Jan Morcha, it is his ideas for the new party and a new formation of a Third Force that merits attention as far as UP and the future of India is concerned.

Says V.P.Singh: “The media might think I have made a comeback. I haven’t. I am busy with farmers’ issues. Unless the farmer’s issues are made electorally relevant no mainstream media takes note. So electoral issues have to be linked to critical issues of the farmers. So, he is leading agitations and what not. More than that it is his personal stature that makes him nationally relevant. When he launched the Jandal in 1989, it was an infant, as he himself says. Now, he wants his Jan Morcha as a multi-party alliance in which he counts Lalu Yadav, Paswan and the Leftists and also even the DMK, though he did name it. Very likely, given his past mastership in forging an alliance on noble themes like a cause, not a vote calculation, he can swing the political forces once he decides the timing.

The point is that we need to have a change of political culture in the country. If we want to bring about an alternative economic development programme, we need State -level leaders with a mass base. Mulayam Singh Yadav is one such mass leader. So too Lalu Yadav. May be all such State-level leaders might make a difference to the alternative Government at the Centre.

Unless, there is a new momentum to seize the economic dynamism, the Indian economy shows now, unless we, the leaders, in politics and outside, understand the very nature of the globalised economic opportunities, all our current politicking and just keep the Centre under the control of people who have no mass base, then it wont be a good democracy or a good economic either.

So, agriculture per se won’t improve unless a whole lot of related issues, like good governance, combating corruption and also politically legitimate ministers at the Centre, economic growth as such won’t come about.

There are lots of good schemes at present. But there is no politically legitimate leadership to implement them.

Post Navigation