By K T Rama Rao
I would like to elucidate, with my personal experiences, how the youngest State of the Indian Union, Telangana, has made rapid strides in development and leapfrogged from nowhere to become the most progressive State in the country.
Can an agitator become an administrator?
The question as to how a crusader, who led a protracted agitation, can metamorphose himself into an able administrator has always puzzled the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. However, now he doesn’t have an iota of doubt upon seeing the administrative legerdemain of Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao, who has donned both roles with utmost dexterity and diligence.
In my recent conversation with him in Delhi, Mr. Jaitley confided in me saying: “I have seen agitators catapulting into power. I haven’t, however, seen them delivering good governance, with Chief Minister KCR being the sole exception.”
Mr. Jaitley’s words are indeed accurate. There would be an earth and heaven difference between leading an unparalleled agitation to achieve a Herculean task and delivering a superior quality of administration like never before. It’s not easy for many rulers to satisfy people of multiple walks of life, given the limitations of the administrative straitjacket. However, KCR could surely outgrow himself above these considerations. The manner in which KCR molded himself into an able administrator after realizing a five-decade-long dream of people of Telangana, the formation of a separate State, is amazing.
KCR gracefully accepted this challenge on the very first day – June 2, 2014 — of assuming office as the Chief Minister of the newly formed State and won millions of hearts, one of them being our political opponent and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The encomiums showered on KCR’s maturity and administrative capability on the floor of the Lok Sabha by the Prime Minister are surely a rare honour bestowed upon the people of Telangana.
Servility and brown-nosing with the mighty and powerful in Delhi by some leaders over the years gave an impression that people of Telangana lacked the ability to rule. However, KCR could successfully erase it sooner than later.
The administration of the first Government of Telangana has won all round accolades. The visit of representatives from 11 different States just to study the implementation of ‘Mission Bhageeratha’; and the nation-wide interest evoked by the lifeline of Telangana, Kaleswaram project, stand testimony to the laurels earned by the Telangana Government. Every day the State has a visitor from one State or the other to study the various schemes and activities undertaken by the government of Telangana. How has it become possible? Does the Chief Minister KCR wield a magic wand or a talisman that creates the magic overnight?
Clear understanding of problems
Though he has neither, KCR possesses an undying commitment to the development of the State. His enormous understanding of trials and tribulations of the people of Telangana is the driving force behind him. He, who crisscrossed the State wearing the spirit of the agitation on his sleeve, is fully aware of the ambitions and aspirations of the people of the State.
What the Adilabad tribals need, what needs to be done to salvage the weavers of Sircilla from the clutches of penury, how to address the chronic problem of fluoride water in Nalgonda, and how to prevent the migration of labour from Palamuru are all known to him like the back of his hand. It’s this knowledge that has ignited massive welfare and development activities across the State to mitigate the suffering of people of all hues.
The Government is surging ahead with a perfect planning to set right the injustice meted out to the State in water, funds and jobs. The government is working with an iron will and steel resolve to provide irrigation facility to every acre and safe drinking water to every household. A whopping Rs. 25,000 crore is being spent annually for canals, tanks, reservoirs and irrigation projects.
I have no doubts in asserting that Telangana would become a “one crore-acre arable State’ with the effort to convert the Godavari into “A boon of Telangana” with Kaleswaram project, the Sitarama Project, Mahbubnagar Lift Irrigation scheme and the likes.
The Government has embarked on the ‘Mission Bhageeratha” to ensure that safe drinking water reached every citizen in Telangana. Purified safe drinking water would reach every household of Telangana, shaming the decades’ old negligence of Andhra rulers who ignored the basic needs of the people. Those leaders who occupied high offices in the government also miserably failed in giving safe drinking water to just two lakh people, who were suffering from fluoride content in water, in their respective constituencies. However, we are all set to drive the devil of fluoride out very soon.
New industrial revolution
The TS-iPass, introduced with the vision of the Chief Minister, brought about a new wave of industrial revolution in the State. Telangana became an investment destination for global giants like Apple, Google, Amazon, Uber, ZF, Novartis, and ITC, which expanded their operations with huge investments in the State. The government has accorded permissions to 6,500 industrial units in the last four years, resulting in an investment of Rs. 1.23 lakh crore, creating six lakh new employment opportunities. The State topped the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) rankings awarded by the Centre.
The clouds of doubt that the State would suffer from paucity of funds if Telangana was formed have been shattered and the State’s income is burgeoning year over year. The Chief Minister’s progressive policies achieved the feat of registering a manifold growth in the State’s economy by a staggering 17.5 percent. No other State across India is anywhere near Telangana. As the State’s income is growing, the per capita income of the people too is spiraling. Every pie accruing to the State exchequer is being used by our government for the public good.
The government has laid emphasis by allocating enhanced budgets for schemes like Asara pensions, Kalyana Lakshmi, welfare schemes for different professions, women and child welfare, making the other States jaw-drop.
A gross injustice was meted out to Telangana in the undivided Andhra Pradesh. With a view to setting this right and ensuring that injustice would never be done to the youths of Telangana in future and the locals should righteously get the jobs, the Chief Minister worked out the new zonal system. It’s no mean an achievement to convince the President of India, and the Prime Minister of India to secure clearance for the establishment of seven new zones and two multi-zones only to ensure that 95 percent of the jobs in Telangana are given to locals. The Centre approved of the zonal system proposed by KCR in toto by endorsing the views of the Chief Minister. This is one of the greatest achievements of KCR.
KCR, who went on a fundraising mission to support the cause of Telangana weavers, has implemented novel schemes to make weaving remunerative, after assuming office as the Chief Minister. The Telangana weavers, in fact, spread the grandeur of their craft across the globe with the products they churned out with the expertise of their nimble fingers. Their incomes doubled, and the government is providing insurance. Schemes like Cheyutha, Thrift, loan waiver, and Bathukamma sarees have indeed infused new lease of life and hope among the weavers.
The decisions of KCR to fortify the rural economy are going to realise the ‘gram swaraj’, dreamt of by Gandhiji. I am proud to declare that Telangana is the first ever State in the country to extend input subsidy to the farmers. The farmers’ life insurance scheme has become a big assurance that bolstered the sagging morale of the farmers’ families.
The Government is creating ease of practicing agriculture by effectively implementing loan waiver. The lives of farmers are brightened with the “24-hour free power supply” to the agriculture sector. I wouldn’t hesitate to assure that agriculture would become profitable with the help of Farmers coordination committees.
Health is wealth
Soon after we came to power, we could erase the diffidence among people in going to government hospitals, which were known for being the thresholds to a man’s last journey. The State has adopted a two-pronged strategy for this: 1. Improving the basic amenities in Government hospitals; 2. Introduction of “Arogya Lakshmi” and KCR Kits. We successfully drew the attention of the country by launching “Kanti Velugu” and Telangana Diagnostics schemes.
A nation’s future lies in the strength of future generations. With a view to providing them quality education, which alone can bring about a social reformation, the Government schools are being encouraged. The State is providing free quality education to the needy through residential schools.
While the private sector spends around Rs. 80,000 on a pupil, the government is spending around Rs. 1.30 lakh. The government could instill confidence in people by strengthening the education and health sectors. We have taken upon our shoulders the onus of ensuring that this trust does not wither away. As part of this exercise, we have decentralized the administration.
We have carved out new districts, new village panchayats, and new municipalities. By enhancing the number of circles in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), we have been able to take the administration to the nook and cranny of the city.
Those who spread canards saying that darkness would engulf Telangana if it’s separated, disappeared into wilderness. However, Telangana is shining in its glory.
Most schemes of the government are trendsetters in their own right. Double bed-room houses (dignity housing), Harithahaaram, Pay-revision commission for employees, regularization of contract workers, and SHE Teams are just a few to name.
A day isn’t enough to extoll about these policies and programs and a page ain’t enough to explain them. This surely isn’t a self-proclaimed hyperbole. This is the confidence we have in ourselves and the trust we repose in the people of Telangana. Anything that we do is with an aim to benefit the people. Ironically, this truth isn’t understood by the Opposition, but people are very well aware of it.
Precisely this is the reason why the people’s confidence remained unflinching in us and the same was reflected in every election that’s held after the formation of Telangana. Beginning from Medak Lok Sabha byelection to the recent byelection to Paler Assembly seat, the TRS romped home with thumping majorities. People’s belief in the TRS is so much that its nominees were elected with landslide margins in Paler and Narayankhed Assembly seats where elections were caused due to the death of incumbent Congress MLAs.
By endowing the TRS with a never-before result of 99 seats in the 150-seat GHMC, in which there wasn’t even a single TRS corporator earlier, the people emphasized their trust in the KCR administration. The people are keenly observing how the Opposition is spewing venom on KCR by infusing negativity and have been teaching a befitting lesson to the detractors from time to time.
Miles to go
These four years of rule is just the beginning of a golden era. In fact, we have been in power only for just three and a half years. It was confusion confounded in the early days of the formation of Telangana. Though ministers were available, there was a scarcity of bureaucrats. While I used to handle two departments as a minister, the principal secretary working with me used to manage five different departments, reflecting the intensity of scarcity of officials. This was due to the lackadaisical attitude of the Centre in distributing the civil servants between the two States.
Almost one full year elapsed without implementing the policies and programs, despite their formulation, only due to lack of availability of sufficient number of officers.
The troubles sprouting on and off from the neighboring State, the unresolved dispute over the division of common institutions, merger of seven revenue mandals of Khammam district in Andhra Pradesh, loss of Sileru power plant, could be addressed by the Chief Minister with his astute administrative knack.
While I deem it my privilege to serve the people of Telangana in its first Government, I would like to assert that the rule of these four years is just the first step in the right direction. We have miles to go to fulfill the aspirations and realise the dreams of all sections of people. Interestingly, our first few baby steps in the road to development are drawing all round accolades from across India. I am sure the Bangaru Telangana would inspire the rest of India in the days to come.
(This is an English translation of the article written by Sri K T Rama Rao, Hon’ble Minister, published in Sakshi Telugu Daily a month ago.)