The Republic of India has a federal parliamentary setup and follows dual polity system of governance, with a supreme set of laws, the constitution, outlining the powers and limitations of both the union as well as state governments. The Upper House represents the states and the Lower House the people of India. Inclusive growth, improvement of social and physical infrastructure, and taking the pluses of success towards the most underprivileged households is the responsibility of both states and the Centre. Can any Indian state survive in isolation? Then why not participate in the best possible manner in the furtherance of the nation? Obsolete laws, uncooperative plans and unjustifiable contradiction with the measures of the central government on the part of states have held back real development. Subsidy, for instance, is a way of giving some added perks to the poor so as to augment their growth, but unless states provide unambiguous facts about the number of such families and unless they have procedures in place that can assure of authentic movement of funds to the poor, for which adequate supervision and apt monitoring and reporting mechanism is a must, circumstances will rarely recover. One of the most annoying points of contradiction is when any probable shift in present laws is proposed by the union government, which though has the caliber to add pluses, does not get the obligatory support in the houses of parliament.
Let me quote some examples that would reveal how redundant laws in some states are totally in contrast with development. In the state of Tamil Nadu, prosopis, which can be converted into high grade charcoal, isn’t allowed to be converted so. A marginal farmer cannot easily sell his/ her land in the state of Delhi, therefore needs to employ every of the illicit means to fetch some benefits from the rising price of land. In Maharashtra, one cannot purchase agricultural land except if is an agriculturist, which means that the industry is deprived of acquiring farmland. To move paddy from one zone to the other in the state of U.P. one needs a certificate, implying that to move grains from one point to the other, located only a few km away, however in separate zones, one has to abide to the law and get disgusting clearances from the officials. This list is lengthy and has many concerns that are detrimental to the pace of progression in the present economic scenario. Three lists, enumerating the items that fall under the purview of the Centre, the states and both (concurrent list), as are in the constitution carry the notion that few subjects have a local bearing and as such states should be well positioned to deal with them, but this cannot be at the stake of people’s development owing to conceptual and ideological clashes between the political parties ruling in the states and the one with majority at the Centre.
Another such issue can be seen with the land acquisition subject-matter that falls in the concurrent list. The Rajasthan State Highways Act isn’t in sync with the central law on land acquisition. The state’s Act avoids some crucial steps, such as the social impact analysis and need to obtain consent of land owners; the compensation to be paid also is less when compared to what is mandated under the central law. Misrepresenting and under-reporting of facts related to healthcare, malnutrition, unemployment, and such other social infrastructure minuses by states and regions has held the speed of all-inclusive development. On the issue of toilets, the U.P. government’s report suggested that more than 90 percent of households in the rural parts had toilets; however the Census data reported that the figure was mere 25 percent. How MGNREGA scheme is being handled at the ground level is known to all, dummy employees are paid the government’s money and those actually working at the sites are underpaid. States need to understand that Centre cannot have an eye at the last person for whom schemes are launched; this has to be the indisputable duty of the state governments and gram panchayats. It has been pointed out in a study that of all working under the gram panchayats in Jharkhand, only 18 percent get paid in time. Same is the case with mid-day meal programmes and other schemes taken care of at the state or district levels.
To bring in what we have termed as ‘Inclusive Growth’, India needs a robust monitoring and reporting system, and then it is to be assured that the benefits, without cuts, flow to the most disadvantaged ones, which asks for fair participation of states. Governance will be the key, but unless states rise above the notions of communal and caste-based politics, we can hardly dream of success. For instance, half of the collectors in the state of U.P. are transferred within a year of their posting. Policemen fear suspensions and transfers, which results in lesser attention towards public grievances and more towards the orders of the ruling men. Right from the way the Centre provides funds to states to placement of men in administrative jobs; India now needs a creative and out-of-the-box approach. The Rajya Sabha, representing the states of India, shall play its role in such a manner that central government’s measure of passing even one ordinance stands truly unjustifiable. The constitution has to be respected in every manner, and when the same outlines the ways how states and Centre shall work separately, yet in co-ordination and sync to take forward the nation and its residents, partaking of states in the growth of India becomes a must. Along with, implementing an effective monitoring and reporting system, obsolete and contradictory laws are to be amended/ repealed. Ease of doing business, improvement in social infrastructure (health, education, sanitation etc.) and in physical infrastructure (roads, power, water etc.), and reaching the poor is the aim.
Stability, security and economic development of the country rest on the shoulders of all representatives of public, be it in the Lok Sabha or state legislative assembly. Provisions according superiority to laws passed by the Parliament over state laws, keeping the residuary powers with the Centre and imposition of emergency rule by the Centre in extreme situations are in the constitution with a view to safeguarding India’s integrity and making the union of states stronger than individual states. The other side of the coin is harsh as well with respect to central governments misusing provisions of Article 356 of constitution to dismiss state governments, appointment and role of governors, and intrusion of the Centre into the state list. These, however, have been the instances in the past while the present leaders at the central level have talked much about co-ordination and consensus between states and the Centre. While on one hand, the functioning of the Inter-State Council has to be fortified so as to help the Centre understand the challenges faced by the states; members of the Rajya Sabha and state legislative assemblies will have to respect productive labors of the Centre, keeping aside the ill politics of vote-bank and appeasement of some sections. All in all, harmony between the states and the Centre, as has been reached for GST and newly-formed NITI Ayog, is to be achieved by talks, explanations, understanding, and above all, by way of substantial backing for all constructive endeavors.