TODAY -

Manipur and National Master Plan (Gati Shakti)

Mohendro Nandeibam *



Now we have become wiser after 6 decades of economic battle. The Gati Shakti-National Master Plan of Rs 100 lakh crore, prepared on the basis of hard facts of practical difficulties, is one of the most ambitious initiatives launched by Shree Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India on 13th October, with a deep commitment to ending the bureaucratic entanglement and habit of working in silos.

The wide gap between macro-planning and micro-implementation, lack of co-ordination, lack of advance information and working in silos lead to hampered construction and wastage of public money. Incomplete project is not project, while time is greatest resource. The cost of time overruns and cost overruns is so high in the country and estimated to be 13% of gross domestic product.

Reference to what Prime Minister said could be a fresh warning against policy paralysis and undue delay. He said “There is a good new quality road, constructed by one department and a few days later another department digs that very road to lay water pipelines”. Such visible lack of understanding and co-ordination needs to be closed once for all.

The Master Plan will use geo-tapping and real time data in one centralized portal to ensure that the key departments and States have visibility over major projects being planned-especially the ones which have multi-sectoral and multi-regional reach. 16 Central Departments will be part of the major initiative. Synchronizing of all departments of every State is going to be insisted upon.

The question of good economic governance, comes into the center stage. We have to strictly follow the system of institutions and procedures established to achieve the set objectives. Economic co-ordination with optimum efficiency, hassle free, is the backbone of the initiative.

Of course, Economic Governance is not possible without the aid of general principles of Good Governance such as participation, representation, fair conduct of elections, responsiveness, efficiency and effectiveness, openness and transparency, rule of law, ethical conduct, competence and capacity and innovation and openness to change.

Remember economics is about the creation and distribution of wealth while politics is about creation and distribution of power. Economics comes into the center stage of politics. As such they are two sides of a coin.

While exercising the political power, one has to keep in mind the wellbeing of the people, the purpose of intervention, the holistic process and the sustainable performance. The challenge is how to make an amicable and productive compromise and suitable combination. In other words, we need a new approach, a new work culture and a new lifestyle.

One thing is clear that almost all Central projects pass though different regions in the country, which means the efficiency of State administration is a critical input for the successful operation of the project.

As Tamil Naidu, Kerala and Karnataka are the 3 top States in good governance and also in economic governance, it is not a surprise that larger percentage of distributive benefit of income and employment accrues to them followed by positive effects of externality.

Well what about Manipur ? The State is one of the lowest in the National ranking of Good Governance with 23rd position and one of the worst performers in economic governance (-0.363). We have to tighten the belt of administration; horizontally and vertically.

The hill districts by and large remain dull and visibly arrested with all forms of painful limitations of feudal system and lack of physical infrastructures, while valley districts are at crossroads between constraints of traditionalism and temptations of modernism. The massive wave of globalization is on the rise with a new impetus to consumerism.

Of course, we cannot ignore the trend of competitive innovation and advent of modern technology in production. But the Human Capital Index is not encouraging.The ranking of Human Capital Index of India is so low with 115th in the world.

The mission of Go-To-Village and Go-To-Hills needs to be made aggressively pregnant with massive investment in all round development. Vision, Mission and Action should go together. One-time intervention not being followed by appropriate development programs may in the long run, be a new fertile ground of diminishing credibility. 40% of population in the hill areas are under the crushing burden of abject poverty.

Economic governance in the State needs a lot of improvement; possibly with greater intensity of Big Push for which we have to respect the systems of institutions and procedures established. The inter-sectoral and inter-Ministerial co-ordination; what we call policy co-ordination is a must.

Good economic governance strengthens the helping hand and weakens the grabbing hand and put local economy on the right track. With good economic governance we can ensure completion of projects in time, provide public goods and services, redistribute income and employment, manage externalities properly and stabilize the economy with human face.

Do the line departments in Manipur act with common goal and common team spirit or act independent of other departments in their own world for the sake of their career; not for any spectacular achievement ? Working in a system with variables and factors acting together simultaneously towards a common destination remains an unsolved problem.

Now the message is clear, ‘Perform or Perish’.The immediate challenge of Manipur is to build a home grown mechanism with commitment rooted in domestic institutions. Manipur needs a thorough Administrative Reforms to inculcate the espirit-de-corps with a definite purpose and self-discipline.

We can look up to Thailand. In Thailand, the Ministry of Finance, the Budget Bureau, the Central Bank and the National Economic and Social Development Board, - the so-called Gang of Four-act with the kind of espirit-de-corps, as guardian of National purse and the brain of civil service with remarkable success.

We can also think of the Public Private Council for policy debate and critical feedbacks to set the right economic course of Manipur.


* Mohendro Nandeibam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on October 22 2021.



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