India cannot grow if states are made to suffer for funds
The first meeting of the governing council of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) on Sunday ended up at some positive notes. The meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister Modi, and attended by all chief ministers; Jammu and Kashmir was represented by Governor N. N. Vohra. Ostensibly, the spirit behind this new body, that replaced the erstwhile Planning Commission, is to bring about equitable development in all the states, and involve the states in framing up the national development agenda. It is an admitted fact that the Planning Commission over a period of time had become too bureaucratic and discretionary. And funds to the states, more particularly to smaller states like Jammu and Kashmir, were allocated in uncertain fashion affecting their growth and development. The vision about ‘different states competing with each other in promoting governance initiatives, in a spirit of cooperative, completive federalism’, if translated into reality will surely help in reducing the gulf between developed and backward states. It will also help in poverty alleviation in economically backward states like Jammu and Kashmir. It augured well when Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed the Chief Ministers that he intended to transfer 66 centrally sponsored schemes, for which Rs. 3,38,562 Crores was provided in 2014-15. Some of the centrally sponsored schemes have helped in development of socially and economically backward areas. Nevertheless, most of these schemes suffered either for not being in tune with requirements of some states or lack of proper monitoring. Some of the centrally sponsored schemes were exploited by the ministers and MLAs for furthering their political interests. It is good that a sub-group of chief ministers is being constituted for rationalization of the centrally sponsored schemes and deleting the schemes that have outlived their utility and introducing the schemes that could truly help change economic scene in India. India cannot grow if states are made to suffer for funds. To see the country transformed in real sense, as the voices were raised at the conference ‘vertical devolution of share to the states should be at least 50% of the aggregate resources available with the Centre. And in states like Jammu and Kashmir, that have suffered tremendously because of uncertain fashion of allocation of funds, the financial calendar should be changed to January to December instead of April to March.