Mumbai: Central assistance to any state should have flexibility to address special problems that it might be facing, President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Monday.
At a function to mark birth centenary celebrations of late V P Naik in the backdrop of severe drought faced by the state this year, he recalled the former Chief Minister`s speech at the National Development Council where he had opposed any formula-based approach for extending central aid to states.
"For the first time the concept of a formula-based central planned assistance to states was formulated at the time of fourth five-year plan which is known as Gadgil Formula.
"And during formulation of Gadgil Formula, Shri Naik made a speech at National Development Council. He pointed out that there should be adequate flexibility," he said.
Mukherjee said, "a straitjacket formula for central assistance to states may not always take care of special problems which the states may have. And surely many of us who are in the process of formulation and execution of the plan feel that lack of flexibility is not desirable."
Mukherjee said his first meeting with Naik took place when he was Minister of State for Banking and Finance in relation with the establishment of Regional Rural Banks and for providing institutional credits to farmers in rural areas.
The President said he was struck by Naik`s knowledge of the conditions in rural India and plight of farmers.
Mukherjee said Naik provided "political and economic stability" in the state at a time of financial turbulence as there was severe crunch of resources in the country.
The President said Shri Naik launched the revolutionary Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme which proved to be a boon for millions of farmers ravaged by two major famines in the state.
The Planning Commission later approved the scheme and the same was adopted on national scale and the programme is today known as MNREGA, he said.
The President was also presented, on the occasion, a compilation of Naik`s speeches in the form a book `Chaturasra`.
He also released a special cover on Naik which is brought out by Indian postal department.
Mukherjee said he wished that selected speeches of Naik be translated into English as it would help scholars outside Maharashtra to learn about the life and thoughts of the longest serving Chief Minister of Maharashtra.