Making Cities Self-Reliant

Across the world there is an increasing trend towards urbanization accompanied by a shift in the nature of economy from agriculture and industry to services. Demographers project that bulk of population growth in developing countries will be in urban areas. In 2002 there were 17 mega cities with 10 million plus population in the world and this figure is expected to grow to 21 by 2015. What is remarkable is the fact that excepting for four of them, all the rest are in the developing world!

Politics of Tokenism

Tags: 

One should set their course by the twinkle of the distant stars and not by the lights of a passing ship

Last week, chief minister Chandra Babu Naidu has suddenly decided to bless us with a shower of gifts to make up for the sweltering heat wave that we are going through. He has announced a package of sops worth Rs 700 cr for the farmers, Rs 300 cr for fishermen and agriculture labour, Rs 1000 cr for artisans and weaker sections. He has also resolved to gift every girl child attending a government school with a bicycle!

Agents of the “Crown”

During colonial times, the British Raj used to administer its provinces in India through Governors and “Resident Agents” (in princely states). And within each province/state, the head of administration for each district was the “Collector” who used to report directly to the Governor. Not withstanding the fact that many civil servants of that era have done an outstanding job in public service, they still used to function as the agents of the Crown/Raj.

Where Fraud is Fashionable!

One of the key reasons for industrial stagnation in AP is the general perception of investors and bankers that many promoters and owners of companies in the state are dishonest. This image is truly unfortunate because we do have some outstanding entrepreneurs who adhere to ethical norms and adopt internationally accepted business and accounting standards. But the truth is far more have cheated the investing public, financial agencies, and the government.

“Water, water everywhere - But not a drop to drink!”

Most of the state, including the residents of the twin cities got a respite from the sweltering heat-wave with the onset of the Southwest monsoon. But for the majority of the people, the wait for safe, accessible, affordable and assured drinking water supply is going to be much longer. Decades ago, the traditional source of drinking water used to be a small lake or a nearby stream or a bore well. Thanks to the chaotic and unplanned growth, most of the lakes are in a state of utter disrepair and are close to dying.

Crime, Rule of Law and Economic Growth

According to statistics released by the state police the overall number of crimes in AP at 1.31 lakh in 2002 showed a marginal increase from the previous year’s total of 1.17 lakh. The report also revealed that the number of murders at 2376 showed a marginal decline from 2428 in the previous year. Hyderabad reported 110 murders whereas Rangareddy district topped the list with 181.

“Good old days”, or Sheer Nostalgia?

Tags: 

How often have we heard people glorifying the past and their own generation and lamenting the rotten conditions in the present and despairing that things can never improve.

Perennial Threats – Quick Fixes

A glance at the news headlines in the past few weeks made me very frustrated. Some of the headlines read: “ Mysterious viral fever attack leaves scores of kids dead”, “ Floods devastate northeast India”, “One more train disaster”, “ Farmers upset at not getting quality seeds”. Headlines in previous years around this time are more or less the same. Why is it that we are not able to tackle and find lasting solutions to these perennial problems?

Whither Self-governance?

In our fight for independence we rightly said, “Good governance is no substitute for self-governance”. But when our local governments (very often our bureaucrats and ‘superior’ politicians only refer to them as local ‘bodies’ not even giving them a status of a government) seek more autonomy, the immediate response from one and all is that local representatives are inexperienced and incompetent, corruption will skyrocket, and citizens are illiterate and ill-informed.

Popular Sovereignty and Local Governments

It is now over ten years since the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution were enacted with great hope and anticipation. Unfortunately, local governments in most parts of the country continue to be feeble and anaemic. As has now become the habit, our law-makers are loquacious without substance. Together the two amendments are about 7700 word-long, and yet the key provisions regarding the powers and functions of panchayats (Article 243-G) and municipalities (243-W) are vague and feeble.