Given the abuse the socio-economic scenario of India has gone through between 2004 and 2014, there is no wonder that Indian craved for effective governance and a robust leadership to run the country. Indians were looking for someone experienced, capable and powerful enough not only to right the wrongs of the previous government but also take the situation in hand and divert it to the path of progress. Hence the entire agenda of 2014 elections was focused on the concept of development unlike the previous two elections in which caste and religion played a colossal role. This situation made Narendra Modi a perfect choice considering his role in the development of Gujarat which he has achieved especially when the state was in its worst times thanks to 2001 earthquake and 2002 Riots. Now, we are done with 2014 and Narendra Modi is the people’s champion and the most deserving Prime Minister of India.
Now, let us ask ourselves this question.
Is there anyone apart from Modi who is as enthusiastic in development of the country and inclined towards using technology to solve modern day socio-economic problems? Is there anyone who is true to his intentions and smart enough to deserve the top seat?
Yes there is! and his party is a part of the existing ruling alliance of this country. His name is Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Some people might not know him due to the political gap between North & South Indian geographies.
Here are a few reasons why after Modi, if there is any non-BJP person who deserves the top seat, can be Chandrababu Naidu, the President of Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
- He was Andhra Pradesh’s youngest member of Legislative Assembly and the youngest minister in the cabinet at 28 in the year of 1978.
- From 1995 to 2004, He has served as the longest reigning Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and again was sworn in as CM of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
- He is recognize by political enthusiasts as the only Indian politician with 21st century vision for his developmental and result oriented policies.
- He has this reputation worldwide. How many times have we seen the US President or Prime Minister of UK visiting a State’s CM on their visits to India? Yes, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair visited Hyderabad and met Naidu personally while he was the Chief Minister of the state.
The chauffeur of IT boom in Andhra Pradesh.
Mr.Naidu is credited with bringing Information Technology in the state and today, top IT companies like Google, Microsoft, IBM, Dell, Deloitte, Oracle etc have their campuses in Hyderabad. One thing that surprised the eorld is that Microsoft Corporation has established a software development centre in Hyderabad, second such center outside Seattle.
His intention to create Hyderabad as the new IT hub of India and had been successful. Apart from IT, he is credited for bringing some big foreign direct investments (FDIs) in key sectors such as biotechnology, healthcare and various outsourcing services.
In a World Bank Survey in September 2015 on India’s top 10 states on doing business, Andhra Pradesh takes the second place after Gujarat. This itself speaks of his efforts to attract investments in the state.
National Geographic mentioned in its 2002 issue about Hyderabad- “Hyderabad is poised to become the hi-tech capital of the subcontinent. Not only is it remarkable that all this has happened, but that it has happened so fast.”
Andhra Pradesh Value Added Network (APVAN).
Can be termed as most ambitious project ever, APVAN. The aim of APVAN was to wire up the entire state into one large network (intranet) and hook up every government office with it. This way, information could be accessed and shared across the board at a great speed. Naidu already has a similar but smaller system set up in his office where he can connect to the network and get data on things like condition of power generation and transmission, education levels, etc. He already uses this data by keeping the ministers and bureaucrats on their toes by calling them at all times of the day and questioning them based on the data.
Now Naidu envisions a similar system set up across the entire state. Such a network would have multiple purposes.
- The first one is to give all government employees and ministers access to instant information and data.
- The second one is to streamline government working. This is to be achieved through a system of online government (sort of like online banking) in which citizens would be able to print out forms, apply for licenses and permits, pay their taxes, along with having access to all the information.
Further more, Mr.Naidu currently has a file-tracking system in his secretariat where he can track every minister’s files and see how long it took to work and what decision was taken. He hopes to make even this information public and have the citizens track the ministers’ files.
Janmabhoomi translates to “Birth Place”. Mr.Naidu understands the importance of involving people in the decision making process of the government right from the lowest level. For this purpose Janmabhoomi was initiated which not only focused on people participation in the decision making in the villages but also aimed at increasing the literacy rate and spreading awareness among the masses.
This program relies on having the people work with each other at the grassroots and to get them involved in the development process. India has always had a culture of a panchayat which is a group of generally five elders in the village who mediate and judge problems in the village. This system is now part of the Indian judiciary. Extending upon this, Naidu has tried to mobilize the people into working with each other in setting up organizations and committees. Some of them are credit groups (providing low-interest short-term loans), water associations, education committees, and health committees. While the government will be out to educate and organize such groups, its main role in this program will be to implement suitable policy and train the people and group them according to their skill.
One major development through this program has been an attempt at making the government more transparent. Naidu hopes to have the citizens more involved in the decision making process and as such hold the government bureaucrats accountable for their actions. This means that the people would have a right to the information and be able to audit government accounts. Although this is a great plan into streamlining and improving the bureaucracy, it is obvious that it would not go down too well with the bureaucrats. In terms of the social objectives of Janmabhoomi, it has been very successful with improvements across the board, in areas such as water, sanitation, health, and also veterinary care.
Pattiseema lift irrigation scheme
In order to solve the water and irrigation problems in the state, linking the rivers is tested method. Naidu understands its benefits very well. As of September 2015, he is credited with the completion of first link in the national water grid, which seeks to interlink the nation’s rivers, by formally connecting rivers Godavari with Krishna by completing the Pattiseema lift irrigation scheme. This will irrigate two crops on 1.7 million acres and ensure adequate water supply in a large part of the parched Rayalseema region.
Though dating back to more than three and a half decades the project work on Pattiseema took off effectively only a decade back. But finally it was Naidu who accelerated the work on the scheme and ensured its completion in a record five and a half months and thus overtaking the Ken-Betwa project which was expected to be the first completed river linking project in the country.
- Declared as “South Asian of the year, 1999” by the Time Asia Magazine.
- “IT Indian of the Year” in a poll conducted by India Today and 20:20 media
- “IT Man of the Year” award by Computer World in 1999 for his vision and contributions in harnessing IT for improving the lives of common citizens.
- In 1998, when the World Link magazine of the World Economic Forum decided to pick a dream cabinet of political leaders, Chandrababu Naidu shared honours with British PrimeMinister Tony Blair; Iranian President Mohammed Khatami and Foreign Minister of New Zealand Don McKinnon among others.
Future Plans for Andhra Pradesh
- He intends to make Andhra Pradesh one of the top three developed states in the country by 2022 and the number one state by 2029. In order to translate his plans into action he has already tied up to work with the Lee Kuan Yew Institute of Excellence to further ease the ways for doing business. The results have been encouraging so far as the state has already managed to secure Rs 1.13 lakh crore of investments which are now in various stages of implementation.
- Amravati – The Capital City
The most ambitious of the Chandrababu Naidu’s new initiatives are his plans for Amaravati, the new capital of the reorganized state. The capital city with 32 kms of riverfront is being built with the active cooperation of Singapore which has helped with the master plan of the smart, green and sustainable city.
The idea is to initiate the project by building 17 sq kms as a vibrant business hub with offices and residences with metro rail, bus rapid transit, downtown roads, arterial roads and collector roads. Naidu biggest success on this front so far has been to secure the peoples participation for procuring land for the project on a voluntary basis by promising to deliver them a part of the gains by returning a portion of the developed land and ensuring annuity payments meanwhile. So far Naidu has managed to secure 33,000 acres of prime land for the capital project in lieu of a promise to return 8,000 acres of developed land to the landowners. This is one of the most innovative plans for urban development that India had attempted till now.
- All these are major gains considering that the reorganization of Andhra Pradesh had left the state coffers almost empty with hardly any resources. The transfer of the then capital Hyderabad, which is the most resourceful region of the state, to Telangana robbed Andhra Pradesh off a major bulk of the taxes. And the promised compensation form the central government fell far short of expectations.
The scarcity of resources had forced Naidu to work out new plans to build a tax base for the reorganized state. Naidu’s new idea is to tap the potential of the long coast line of the state to build new ports and industrial corridors to generate employment and revenues. The Vizag Chennai industrial corridor and the corridor connecting Chennai Bangalore industrial corridor to Krishnapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh are two focus areas of the port based industrial infrastructure projects that Naidu has initiated.
These are few of the many great work initiated by Chandrababu Naidu. But sadly very few people are aware of his achievements. The work done by him is in no way inferior to what Modi did in Gujarat, rather his might be better, but what he lacks, I think, is the connect with the people in the northern parts of India. He focuses on regional politics and doesn’t have a cadre as strong as BJP/RSS to spread the party’s wings all over the country.
But he is undoubtedly one of the deserving candidate for the PM’s, who is not associated to BJP. Don’t know whether he will ever be able to get the PM post, but keep an eye on Andhra Pradesh in the coming few years. Naidu continues to haunt Bangalore and now Hyderabad (Telangana). New York times rightly identified Naidu as “The High-Tech fix for one corner of India.”
If only India had more such fixes for every corner.
Ayush Goyal is a this forum.and a active quora user. This article is based on his answer in