Skip to main content

Odisha view: Govt of India centralising power, 'destroying' cooperative federalism

Narendra Modi with Naveen Patnaik 
Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Dr Gopabandhu Dash* 
The pandemic of Coronavirus has exposed all limitations of free market economies and anomalies in capitalist global economy. The world economy is in shambles. The unprecedented restrictive and unavoidable lockdown measures by governments across the world has led to the loss of livelihoods, growth of unemployment, economic stagnation and crisis. It is one of the biggest challenges in world history.
In this context, Indian economy looks gloomy. The pandemic has crippled the manufacturing and service sectors in Indian economy. It shattered the urban economy in India, which led to reverse migration from urban areas to rural areas. So, it is time to revisit the role of state and planning to invest in rural economy, which can absorb migrant labourers for a sustainable future.
The authoritarian, neoliberal, market economy free from state planning is no longer an option to revive agrarian and rural economy in India. It is important for the state planners to shift their focus from economic growth led capital formation to labour empowerment. The investment in rural workforce, environment and agricultural land are three areas on which the governments need to focus for the revival of Indian economy.
The unbridled privatisation of natural resources must stop. The governments must use natural resources in the rural areas to generate revenue to invest in rural development. The availability of sustainable livelihoods, investment in rural infrastructure in health, education and healthcare facilities can help to reduce rural to urban migration.
It can reduce urban biased development programmes. It can reduce population and other pressures on urban areas. It can help in accelerating national economic development in long run. There is no alternative to public welfare driven states and governments. The recovery from the pandemic led economic crisis depends on revival of state planning for rural development.
Rural development in India was in disarray before the outbreak of coronavirus. The state planning was considered obsolete and completely abandoned in search of economic growth. The market forces were given free hand to decide. The practice of neoliberal capitalism and its technocratic approach with the help of analytical development tools destroyed rural economy and reinforced agrarian crisis in India.
Poverty, hunger and unemployment are the net outcome of the withdrawal of state from planning for rural development. The decline of rural agriculture and economy led to mass migration of rural labour and agricultural workers to urban areas and cities in India. These migrants were treated as disposables during the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic.
Majority of migrants were left to their own fate. Many migrants survived the ordeal by walking thousands of miles from Indian cities to their rural hamlets. Their citizenship rights and human dignities were taken away by the very system that profits from their labour. 
Odisha dominates mineral map of India. But the sector’s potential for growth is restricted by successive Central governments
Progressive states like Kerala and Odisha are two beacons of hope for the migrant population. These two states have taken enormous steps in bringing back their own migrants and sending back migrants from other states. It is time for the return of the state for planning and development of rural India by developing an abiding partnership between migrant citizens and the state.

Odisha model of crisis management

The state of Odisha is an agrarian economy, which continue to face challenges of natural calamities in regular intervals. The regular natural calamities like floods and cyclones destroy the economy and cause deaths and destitutions in the state. It is because of state planning for last two decades, the Government of Odisha has managed to reduced human casualties to single digit and sometimes to zero causality due to natural calamities. The Odisha way of disaster management can be emulated by other states in India and countries across the globe.
In spite of limited resources and apathy of the Central government, the state and government in Odisha is making remarkable progress under the leadership of Chief Minister Mr Naveen Patnaik. He worked relentlessly for the welfare and rehabilitation both Odia and non-Odia migrants in the state during this coronavirus led pandemic.
The Government of Odisha has announced a package of Rs 17,000 crore for sustaining livelihoods in the rural areas. This is going to have a positive impact on the overall economy. The focus of the government is on developing rural economy through various government sponsored programs.
The idea is to engage the migrants in different rural livelihood programmes by developing sustainable infrastructure such as roads, school buildings, agriculture land, irrigation facilities etc. The government provides incentives for the people to engage in the handlooms and handicrafts sectors. The handloom producers and workers are provided economic stimulus to carry forward their production activities so that the rural economic chain continues without any disruption.
The Government of Odisha has developed citizenship and state partnership model to empower the women and rural poor with the help of self-help groups. It is an important policy platform of praxis, where seventy lakhs of women are directly involved. It gives an edge to Odisha over other states in India.
Self-help groups are the biggest institutional asset of the government for the implementation of rural development policies for the revival of rural economy in the state. These groups help in creating local livelihoods through production of daily needs and using locally available raw materials. This can help in immediate crisis management with long term positive returns.
One of the 336 camps set up in Odisha for migrant workers
More than 75 percent of Odisha’s population is directly or indirectly related to agriculture and the farm sector. The agricultural sector continues to be the dominant sector in Odisha economy. It provides employment to majority of population in the state. The crisis is an opportunity to diversify agriculture in Odisha to absorb more people and increase the per capita income in agriculture.
The revival of farmers-led agricultural marketing, storage and distribution cooperatives are important in long run. The small-scale agriculture-based industries with focus on food processing can provide livelihoods to a large number of people. People returning from other states with skills can be employed in these industries with little training and skill development.
The contribution of farm sector to Odisha’s economy is about thirty percent, which can grow in these difficult times with the help of government interventions. The returned migrants are not going back to the cities outside the state of Odisha. It is important to create facilities to engage their skills and labour for the development of rural economy.
The state government is planning to small and medium-term financial assistance for setting up of new rural enterprises and businesses. The state of Odisha is in a good position as a fast mover under the leadership of chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
The coastal line in Odisha connects seven big districts in the state. It is important to accelerate coastal economy under the guidance and leadership of the Coastal Development Councils. The fisheries, tourism and agriculture are the three areas the Coastal Development Councils need to focus for the growth of rural employment and economy.
The state is also gifted with large rivers like the Mahanadi, the Brahmani, the Budhabalanga, the Subarnarekha, the Baitarani, and the Rushikulya. The river basin covers large parts of Odisha from north to south. The fertile river deltas need to be utilised properly for the further growth of agriculture.
The state of Odisha dominates the mineral map of India. Odisha is endowed with mineral resources. The mining sector contributes immensely to the state’s economy but the poorest of the poor live in the resource rich regions of the state. It is time to make the indigenous and rural communities as the shareholders of mineral resources of the state.
However, the sector’s potential for the growth and development of Odisha is restricted by successive Central governments. Therefore, the Government of Odisha is demanding greater financial federalism and greater control over its mineral resources for the development of Odisha, Jharkhand and other mineral resource rich regions of India.
The centralisation of power by the Government of India is destroying the framework of cooperative federalism for economic growth and development of rural population in India. The Government of Odisha is committed to the democratic decentralisation of development and empowerment of rural poor. The experience of Odisha reveals that it is the only alternative to manage all crisis in future.
This is a crisis and so resource constraint theory is an alternative. It is a product of neoliberal capitalist logic to control the state and its abilities for public welfare. Such an argument needs to be discarded. Austerity is not an economic policy but a religious philosophy. It has no place in economic planning for development.
The pandemic has revealed that the prevailing free market economy with capitalist system has failed to manage the crisis it produces. It failed in developing an egalitarian system with distributive justice for the marginalised, urban and rural poor. It failed to provide permanent employment and safe working place to the majority of population.
History is witness to positive role of a people’s state. Only democratic state and governments can manage crisis for the greater common good. The sustainable future depends on the abilities of the states and governments led planning for economic growth and development in India.
---
*Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak is with the Coventry University, UK; Dr Gopabandhu Dash is official on special duty with the Chief Minister of Odisha

Comments

TRENDING

Tracing roots of Hindutva Zionism: cannon fodder for 'warped' nationalist pretensions

By Shamsul Islam*  Those who believe in a world free of hegemonic ethno-nationalism, racism, religious bigotry and hatred have rightly taken note of Zionism and its ally Christian Zionism, major perpetrators of ethnic cleansing of ‘Others’. However, the civilized world with its core belief in multi-culturalism and peaceful co-existence is oblivious to a no less dangerous threat to the present human civilization: the Hindutva Zionism. As the term reads it is part of the Hindutva world-view which stands for an exclusive Hindu India minus Muslims and Christians. The other religions like Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism will have no independent status but treated as part of Hinduism. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; National Volunteer Organization) is the most prominent flag-bearer of the Hindutva politics whose cadres presently rule India, the largest democracy in the world. RSS was founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar (1889-1940) in 1925 who was disillusioned with the Indian freedom st

Regional parties, anti-Congress progressives, civil society groups 'joining' Bharat Jodo

By Harshavardhan Purandare, Sandeep Pandey*  The Congress party declared Bharat Chhodo (Quit India) movement against the British regime in 1942. The Congress party has now launched a movement Bharat Jodo (Connecting and Uniting India) against the Modi regime in 2022. Indian people have had a journey of 80 years since Mahatma Gandhi gave that Quit India call to the British and we have to agree that we stand most divided in our modern history when Rahul Gandhi is giving this Bharat Jodo call to the nation. And back then, Congress was a thriving idealistic political movement against the British rulers and now it is an ever weakening political organization electorally defeated several times. However, it is India at stake, not just the Congress party. That is why so many regional political parties, civil society organizations, traditional anti-Congress progressive forces like socialists and communists, intellectuals and civil servants have declared their support and are proactively partici

Shocking? No Covid vaccine trials conducted on pregnant, lactating women: RTI reply

By Rosamma Thomas*  A Right to Information applicant who sought details of safety trials conducted in India on pregnant and lactating women for three Covid vaccines in use in India – Covishield, Covaxin and ZyCov-D -- was shocked to learn from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) that Serum Institute, manufacturer of Covishield, and Cadila Healthcare, manufacturer of the ZyCov-D vaccine, had not sought permission for such trials.  Bharat Biotech, manufacturer of Covaxin, had sought permission for trial on pregnant women and later withdrawn its application. This response , provided after the applicant was initially unsatisfied with the response and went in appeal, is from the joint drugs controller, CDSCO. It was dated September 13, 2022. One researcher closely following the vaccine rollout, however, is of the opinion that the lack of a trial on pregnant and lactating women is a blessing; potential trial participants and their unborn babies thus escaped harm. Aruna Ro

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Grave error? Scholar blames ex-Gujarat babu for anti-Christian riots 'citing fake report'

By Rajiv Shah  A few days back, I received a message from one of the finest former Gujarat government bureaucrats, PG Ramrakhiani, a 1964 batch IAS official, who retired in November 2000. I would often interact with him in 1997-99, even later, after I was sent to Gandhinagar as a Times of India man to cover Sachivalaya. Those were turbulent times. Shankarsinh Vaghela was the Gujarat chief minister, under attack from two sides – from the BJP, which he had left to form a separate breakaway party, Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), one one hand, and the Congress, which was supporting him from outside, on the other. Ramrakhiani, in his message, referred to the book authored by Ghanshyam Shah and Jan Breman, both top-notch scholars who have known Gujarat in and out. Called “Gujarat, Cradle and Harbinger of Identity Politics: India’s Injurious Frame of Communalism”, I reviewed the book in January 2022.  It claims that Muslims in Gujarat have been turned into “new untouchables”, thanks to the Hin

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Excess to cheetah in Kuno to increase 'woes' of local people, 'disturb' wildlife balance

Bharat Dogra*  The release of eight cheetahs into the Kuno National Park ( Madhya Pradesh) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, although accompanied by a media blitz, has raised several questions. The animals were flown from Namibia to Gwalior and from there they were taken to the release site in a helicopter. Official sources have stated that this is the first time a large carnivorous species has been moved across continents for establishing a new population. This first release will be followed by others under this project. However, precisely for this reason, it is important to be cautious because if such translocations have been generally avoided in the past, there may have been reasons for this and at the same time we do not have much learning experiences from the past. The Cheetah became extinct in India in 1952, although this very fast moving animal is still remembered in the folklore of many areas. Hence the first impulse is to say that trying to introduce and revive

Introducing non-native cheetahs is 'not equivalent' to restoring pride in the nation

By Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay*  The Cheetahs from the African continent has finally been introduced to India by the Indian Prime Minister on his 72nd birthday. The process had started with the previous Government in 2009. However, the Supreme Court clearance was pending owing to the objection by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) plea to reintroduce cheetahs. Finally the clearance was obtained in January 2020 and thereafter Kuno National Park (KNP) was chosen for the reintroduction of first set of Southeast African Cheetahs. In the near future, depending upon the success story of the current reintroduction, more cheetahs from South Africa may also be introduced. This exercise has generated a lot of interest among various stakeholders with opinions on both sides galore. It is important to pose some questions that surround the whole exercise. Let us evaluate some of these arguments. The first set of arguments are quite detached from the issues of conservation as they most

'Military diplomacy': US praises Bangladesh Army for leadership role in UN operations

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder* As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centerpiece of all geo-strategic play. Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Army Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year's 46th Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS)-2022, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest confer

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".