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6 challenges for the new UP government

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With 200 million people, equivalent to the population of Brazil, but with an economy the size of Qatars — which has 2.4 million people, the same as the town of Bijnore — the new government of Indias most-populous state Uttar Pradesh faces myriad problems.

The GDP of Uttar Pradesh is comparable to Kenya’s, and its infant mortality rate rivals Mauritania, a poverty-ridden, west-African nation.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won an unprecedented victory in the state in the 2017 assembly election, with 312 out of 403 seats, but with some of India’s worst development indicators, there is much to do.

We analysed six major challenges and the corresponding promises made by the BJP to fix them in its election manifesto, called the””Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra-201″”.

1. Second-highest maternal mortality, half the child population stunted

Despite having the largest population, Uttar Pradesh spends Rs 452 per capita on health, 70 per cent less than the average spending by states.

One in two children in the state is not fully immunised, and it has Indi”s second-highest maternal mortality rate (258 deaths per 100,000 live births) and highest infant mortality rate (64 deaths per 1,000 live births), according to the National Family Health Survey, 2015-16 (NFHS-4).

There are 84 per cent fewer specialists than needed, 50 per cent fewer nursing staff, and the lowest share of health workers (19.9 per cent) in India.

As many as 46.3 per cent of the stat”s children are stunted (low height-for-age), 17.9 per cent are wasted (low weight-for-height) and 39.5 per cent are underweight, according to NFHS-4.

What the manifesto said: The BJP has promised to have a primary sub centre in all villages with the latest equipment and technology. Further, it promised to set up 25 new medical colleges and specialty hospitals and one hospital at par with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in every six blocks.

The BJP has promised a malnutrition-free state in five years.

2. Low learning levels, high absenteeism

Uttar Pradesh has achieved high enrolment of children in primary school, with 83.1 per cent of primary school-aged children enrolled in in 2015-16, according to the data from the governmen”s Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE).

Major issues for the new government now include low learning outcomes, high absenteeism, and lower enrolment in grade VI and further — 60.5 per cent of upper-primary school-aged students enrolled in school in 2015.

In 2016, about half (49.7 per cent) of Grade I students surveyed in households could not read letters, while 44.3 per cent could not recognise numbers up to nine, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), a citizen-led assessment of learning in rural India.

The survey also found that a little over half of students (56 per cent) were present in primary school on the days of the survey.

What the manifesto said: It majorly concentrates on inputs – free education, books, uniforms, teacher-student and classroom-student ratios, along with laptops and free internet for college students, and a Rs 500 crore scholarship fund for poor students.

3. High youth unemployment, high migration for jobs

The low quality of education in the state (and dearth of jobs) is reflected in high unemployment. In 2015-16, more people per 1,000 were unemployed (58), compared to the Indian average (37). Youth unemployment was especially high, with 148 for every 1,000 people between the ages of 18 and 29 years unemployed, compared to the Indian average of 102, according to 2015-16 Labour Ministry data.

Between 2001 and 2011, over 5.8 million people between the ages of 20 and 29 years migrated in search of jobs, but, for most of these migrants, low educational attainment likely resulted in low-paying jobs in the informal sector.

Voters recognise the lack of jobs as a major issue in the state. As many as 20 per cent of voters surveyed said jobs were the most important issue this election year, according to a FourthLion-IndiaSpend survey.

What the manifesto said: The BJP government will create seven million jobs or opportunities for self-employment in the next five years, its manifesto said. As many as 90 per cent of all jobs in industries will be reserved for local youth. The manifesto also promises Rs 1,000 crore for a start-up venture capital fund, which will also create jobs for the youth.

4. Industrial growth one of slowest in country

Uttar Pradesh reported an annual industrial growth (2004-05 constant prices) of 1.95 per cent and 1.93 per cent in 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively, according to the NITI Aayog — among the bottom five in the country.

The state is struggling even in industries that have traditionally been strong. For instance, Kanpu”s leather industry is in deep distress with 146 of its 400 leather tanning units shutting down in 10 years.

Uttar Pradesh ranked 20th out of 21 states on the 2016 State Investment Potential Index, a ranking of states on labour, infrastructure, economic climate, political stability, governance, and perceptions of a good business climate.

The index, released by the National Council for Applied Economic Research, identifies a shortage of electricity and vocationally-trained people as the main concern in the state.

What the manifesto said: It promises to triple current investment by the creation of an investment board. Further, it calls for a single-window clearance department, headed by the Chief Minister, for industries. The manifesto also promises to build six IT parks, a pharmaceutical park, and a dry port connected to a sea port to encourage exports.

5. 20% of Indi”s agri households, but slow agri growth

By 2012-13, Uttar Pradesh, with an estimated 18.05 million agricultural households, made up 20 per cent of Indi”s total agricultural households. Three out of four rural households depend on agriculture, making agricultural reforms a key agenda in one of Indi”s most fertile belts.

For the nine years between 2004-05 and 2012-13, the agriculture and allied sector recorded the slowest compounded annual growth rate of 2.9 per cent, below the national growth rate of 3.7 per cent.

The state recorded a growth rate of 4.2 per cent in agriculture and allied activities (constant 2004-05 prices), slower than Uttarakhand, which recorded a growth rate of 5.12 per cent, and Madhya Pradesh, which grew at 18.85 per cent, in 2014-15.

Outstanding farmer loans stood at nearly Rs 75,000 crore as of two years ago. Of these, a little more than 10 per cent, or Rs 8,000 crore, was loaned through state cooperative banks or primary agricultural credit societies, which are the only loans that the newly formed government can choose to waive off — the other loans are controlled by scheduled commercial banks. This amount includes loans to all farmers in the state, and not just small and marginal farmers.

What the manifesto said: It promises that all agricultural loans will be waived off for small and marginal farmers, while future loans will be provided interest-free. The new government will also create a roadmap to double agricultural income in the state by 2022.

Further, it promised to pay sugarcane farmers in the largest sugarcane-producing state within 14 days of sale, while also coordinating with mill owners and banks to repay previously-owed amounts to sugarcane growers within 120 days of forming the new government.

6. More than half the households unelectrified

In Uttar Pradesh, power cuts were the leading election issue for one-third of voters polled. It remains one of Indi”s most poorly electrified states — with 51.8 per cent of rural households unelectrified — despite having the third-largest installed coal capacity in the country by end-January 2017.

Corruption and red tape within electricity distribution companies, which are responsible for the timely disbursal of funds for electrification projects, are a major factor in the lackadaisical progress of electrification across the state.

What the manifesto said: Every household in the state will be provided with 24-hour power supply, while poor households (below the official poverty line of Rs 816 per capita per month for rural areas) will be given electricity connections free of cost. Poor households will also be provided the first 100 units of electricity at a discounted rate of Rs 3 per unit.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at [email protected])

By IndiaSpend Team 

Politics

2019 General Elections: BSP may not field candidates in Rae Bareli, Amethi

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New Delhi, April 21: Mayawati led Bahujan Samaj Party may not field its candidates in the twin Congress strongholds in the upcoming high-stakes general elections.

Citing BSP leaders close to party supremo, Times of India reported that the move would stop the division of votes and pit BJP in a direct electoral contest with the Congress.

With this, it is speculated that BSP is following the suit of its 2019 ally. As Samajwadi Party has not been fielding candidates in Amethi since 2004 and in Rae Bareli since 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

“One cannot rule out chances of party staying away from Amethi and Rae Bareli if the alliance with SP materializes,” TOI quoted senior BSP leader as saying.

“In doing so, the party may well be able to transfer its votes to Congress,” he added.

According to the sources, opposition parties are already working on seat sharing.

“BSP and SP will decide which seats to contest based on their past performance while Congress will be given 10-12 seats where it is strong. These will definitely include Amethi and Rae Bareli,” stated a Congress leader.

In the meantime, a senior BJP leader admitted that a triangular battle in Amethi would go in ruling party’s favour.

When we look out at BSP’s past performances, in 2009 Lok Sabha elections, it’s vote share in Amethi and Rae Bareli was 14% and 16% against BJP’s 4% and 6%, respectively.

Prior to this in 2004, Mayawati’s party had a vote share of 17% in Amethi, while SP attained 19% votes.

Although, the Congress has also been backing BSP with its seven MLAs having first voted for BSP candidate in the recently held Rajya Sabha election.

Despite losing Rajya Sabha election, however, Mayawati had thanked Congress, saying she was grateful to the party for having ensured that all its legislatures casted vote for BSP candidate.

WeForNews 

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CPI-M terms 15th Finance Commission’s TOR anti-federal

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Hyderabad: Prakash Karat's press conference, Photo: IANS

Hyderabad, (IANS) The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) on Friday voiced over what it called the anti-federal and anti-democratic underpinnings of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the 15th Union Finance Commission.

In a resolution passed by the 22nd Congress of the CPI-M here on Friday, the party said that the terms of reference were “intended” to reduce the share of the states in the overall tax devolution and “squeeze the fiscal space” available to them.

It also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Union government of trying to utilize the 15th Finance Commission to “further centralise financial powers”.

“As a result of the proposed change in the population base year, the TOR threaten also to seriously impair the finances of state governments that have performed well with respect to population control,” the resolution said.

Senior party leader Prakash Karat told reporters that the terms of reference are on assault of federal principles.

He also alleged that the central government has brought extraneous elements into the terms of reference.

The Marxist leader said that with the population criteria having being changed from 1971 to 2011, the party feels that the state who have taken steps to control population and who succeeded in population control will suffer in terms of financial resources being devolved.

On one of the terms of reference which speaks of “control or lack of it in incurring expenditure on populist measures”, Karat said this was not the business of Finance Commission to decide as this should be decided by elected governments and representatives.

The party expressed the apprehension that all social welfare measures may be considered populist by the Finance Commission and said that this move would curb autonomy and rights of states.

The resolution said that with the TOR suggesting that the 15th Finance Commission should review the recommendation of the 14th Finance Commission to raise the share of states in central taxes to 42 per cent and whether the constitutional provision to provide revenue deficit grants to states be continued at all, “the policies that follow from both of these will certainly reduce resource devolution to the states”.

“There are clear suggestions that the Finance Commission enforce the recommendations of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act Review Committee Report. Any such move will significantly reduce the fiscal deficit and debt-GDP ratio permitted for the states, and will severely curtail the fiscal space available to states,” it added.

Noting that Finance Ministers of southern states have raised their objections to the terms of reference, the CPI-M hoped that more states will take a stand. The resolution said the party would mobilize public opinion for revising terms of reference.

In another resolution, the party Congress condemned what it calls the BJP-led government’s latest attack on the working class in the form of extending Fixed Term Employment to all sectors. “This move is an integral part of the neoliberal agenda of labour law reforms that are meant to impose conditions of virtual slavery on the working class,” said the resolution.

The resolution noted that the move would provide employers with the freedom to hire and fire workers. “It is one of the measures intended to facilitate movement up the ladder of the ease of doing business index of the World Bank by depriving workers of job security and pre-empting their united struggles to improve their conditions by getting organised,” it added.

Rejecting the BJP government’s claim that this will generate employment, particularly for women, the CPI-M demanded that the BJP government immediately withdraw the notification on Fixed Term Employment.

IANS

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Yashwant Sinha quits BJP

Dissident BJP leader Yashwant Sinha is holding an event with opposition parties in Patna today.

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YASHWANT SINHA

Dissident BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Saturday quit the saffron party.

The veteran leader said, “Today I am taking ‘sanyas’ from any kind of party politics, today I am ending all ties with the BJP.”

Sinha made this announcement while addressing an event Rashtra Manch at Patna’s Shri Krishna Memorial Hall.

He also stated that he won’t sit quietly at the time when there is a crisis in the country.

The event which has been called under the banner of “Rashtra Manch” attended by the major Non-BJP parties including the Congress, RJD, AAP , TMC, and others.

Sinha had formed ‘Rashtra Manch’ on January 30, saying that it will be an apolitical forum and highlight “anti-people” policies of the Centre.

Several times, the former union minister had criticised the Narendra Modi government’s policies such as demonetisation, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, claiming that they have landed a dual-blow on the country’s economy.

“I have remained in the NDA government. When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the PM we were told that Parliament should function at all costs. Did the current PM even try to reach out to the opposition parties to resolve the impasse? In fact, the government was happy that Parliament was not functioning because there was a no-confidence motion against it.

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