Team India idea: Can PM Modi get CMs on his side?

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the organic farming of Sikkim, he was being more than politically correct.

Trithesh Nandan and Pankaj Sharma/Zee Research Group

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the organic farming of Sikkim, he was being more than politically correct.

The Sikkim reference fits pretty well with his now proclaimed stance of learning from best practices across India.

The obvious challenge is the mindset but with Modi in command this can be mitigated. The bigger challenge is of replication of best practices in states across India.

The Sikkim organic farming is yet to go national. “It is a very good practice in farming but can’t be replicated as a whole. It can only be reproduced in pockets,” says Phetook Tshering Bhutia, secretary of Sikkim AGRISNET.

The message here is that each practice need not be adopted pan India. Punjab, for instance, can follow the practice to mitigate the ill effects of excessive use of chemical fertilizers by embracing organic farming in a big way.
The best thing going in favour of cooperative federalism idea mooted by Modi is that each state in the country has something positive to offer. It is a matter of investigation whether the best practice lends itself to a pan India use or has a selective appeal.

Take for instance the Chhattisgarh experiment with taming leakages in Public Distribution System (PDS). The Planning Commission in February, 2014 stated that government spent Rs 3.65 to deliver Re 1 of food. It also highlighted that 57 per cent of subsidized food grains did not reach the target group. This is a fit case for replication. 

Similarly, Gujarat has developed a robust system of waste management. Other states too can follow the model as most cities have more or less become urban garbage.

There, however, is no mechanism today to engage various stakeholders in replication with turf battles and political ideologies often coming in the way of acknowledging and implementing successful ideas, of which there is no dearth.

Karnataka has successfully implemented some of the best e-governance practices like Bhoomi, Yeshaswini and Khazane. Kerala and Andhra Pradesh too emulated Karnataka’s best practices in e-governance. Likewise, undivided Andhra Pradesh brought out e-sewa and e-procurement.  

As an institutional mechanism required to be set up under team India concept evaluates various good practices for pan India appeal, there are several practices across states that merit immediate examination.
These include: trade and facilitation system of Maharashtra, single window clearance of Rajasthan and Punjab, Integrated Watershed Development of Madhya Pradesh, Participatory Poverty reduction in Kerala, Partnerships in Education programme in Rajasthan, Linking of the producer and consumer (Rythu Bazars) of Andhra Pradesh.

Replication calls for mitigating the mind-set problem. “States need more powers for all round development,” says Babulal Marandi, former Chief Minister of Jharkhand who had faced similar problems during his tenure as CM. During UPA’s tenure, non-Congress governments used to regularly complain about the Centre’s big brother attitude. Modi being the CM of Gujarat used to complain about how the Centre did not push his proposal on solid waste management.

Two critical growth thought processes-Good Services Tax (GST) and Direct Tax Code (DTC) have faced the ire of non-consensus among states.

There are forums like National Development Council (NDC) and Inter-State Council to handle the concerns of states. Since 1966 several committees and commissions have been set up but not of much use.

Experts say that these bodies have lacked teeth. “The key problem as of today is that Delhi is not transferring powers to states and states to Panchayats,” says constitutional expert and former secretary-general of the Lok Sabha Subhash C Kashyap.   

The BJP 2014 manifesto also talked about enabling existing bodies to realize the team India concept. “Team India covers every citizen of this country and not only Centre and state. The idea is based on Gandhian ideology which says that power should flow from the people and not from either the Centre or state,” Kashyap says.

Ex-Chief Minister Marandi is a bit skeptical. “The constitution provides crucial powers to centre but for a better India states need sovereignty.”

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