Consensus is an alien word that Indians need to learn and achieve desperately- July 7, 2012
India would need to maintain a farm growth rate of 4% and a manufacturing growth at the rate of 10.5%, create 25 million new jobs in the non-farm sector, raise green cover by a million hectares each year and reduce the number of people below the poverty line by 10% if it aspires to achieve 8.5% GDP growth in the next 5 years.
The Planning Commission has openly admitted that this will be a challenge ad require major efforts. Notably, these revelations came at a first ever conference with the State planning boards. My research, by no means exhaustive, tells me that these State planning boards essentially are meant to formulate and review 5-year plans; however, the effectiveness of the board is variable across states.
In the past decade of work in the building/real estate sector, I’ve heard innumerable experts rue the schism between Centre and the States. So many policies and model codes prepared by the central government need to be adapted and adopted by the States for them to have any impact at all. Land is a state subject, so this is an issue that troubles the construction and real estate sectors particularly. I do understand that this is the way a federal democracy operates, so in a sense I’m glad the Planning Commission is making efforts to communicate with state level planning boards and hopefully generate debate and consensus on how the states would take up initiatives to help achieve plan targets.
I have been witness to some sessions organized by the Ministry of Housing an Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) with state nodal officers of the Rajiv Awas Yojna (RAY) scheme that hopes to drastically improve the housing situation for the poor, especially slum dwellers in urban areas, across India. I was struck by the enormous gaps in understanding, exposure, motivation and knowledge among states and certainly between central and state government officers. Some were savvy, others indifferent, one set was suspicious, still others clueless. And I sat there and wondered how anything at all got done!
A few months ago, we were trying to get a burnt slum back on its feet. We asked the women why they coud not work together to build and maintain toilets for themselves. We were told its impossible to do anything that requires teamwork and trust. Just 80 families could not agree to agree; no wonder consensus is such an alien word in India’s political landscape.
It’s a long way to heaven, my friend!