The state needs proper guidance to do away with poverty and poverty alleviation programmes. It cannot be denied that MNREGA has transformed the countryside in Uttar Pradesh where villages which could not even boast of a new motorcycle now have landscapes dotted with Tata Safaris and Scorpios, but this was not the agenda of MNREGA. Its job was to create environmental assets to rid UP villages of environmental poverty.
The towns of Uttar Pradesh too face a crisis every day. From providing electricity to water to sanitation to proper roads the cities of Uttar Pradesh are failing on every benchmark. The problem has been identified but no one wishes to name it. It is sheer bad management. Or rather the unmentionable word in corridors of power … the 'C' word- Corruption.
How does corruption cripple development? The problem is very simple. Very intelligent persons get into the government service and that too after passing several exams. Then they begin to apply their minds to projects which are designed in such a manner that public money can be converted into personal wealth for those executing the project. This intelligent form of corruption is the most dangerous as it works like a virus replicating itself in all departments and all projects where it can gain entry.
When a project is designed to further corruption it delivers corruption and not development. If a businessman were to open a school in a village he would first look for a teacher and then allot him a room with a black board, very little money would be put at risk… in the government project money is first pumped into a building … which may only exist on a file … and then the project written off when no teacher reports for duty at the location. Schools are built in areas where there are no children … or mid-day meals sanctioned in schools where children cannot or do not come to study…better still the meal is allowed to rot so that no one eats it and it can be sold as cattle feed.
Is there any difference between a doctor using an ambulance to take him and his family to and fro from office and an official allowing his wife and children to use his staff car? Technically yes - one is graver than the other but morally the lapse is the same - but morals alone will not save Uttar Pradesh today.
The state has had many development conclaves and many advisors but the young Chief Minister Akhilsh Yadav who means business also needs the right set of advisors. Only one such organization based in Delhi has the capacity to provide him the right advice. Take Sunita Narain of the Centre For Science and Environment in Delhi. The lady and the organization both have the national and international experience to analyse and study the weaknesses of the state.
The CSE team also has two very capable individuals with them - Anumita Roy Chowdhary and Chandra Bhushan, both experts in Urban Development issues and Industrial issues. The Centre has the resources, information and experience of thirty years of research and data to back up its work, and has on more than several occasions provided advice and interacted with the Jal Board and with Pollution Control Board. The Shiela Dixit government too has been known to consult CSE on several occasions. Even the water harvesting plan for the Rashtrapati Bhawan was drawn up by the CSE.
But the request to interact must come from the Uttar Pradesh government. What the Uttar Pradesh government needs is a proper real development Conclave and this time not with corporates who have their own hidden agendas but with the real development world.
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