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Real Challenge

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It is clear from proceedings in the State Assembly that there is considerable lack of clarity among Uttarakhand’s elected representatives on the kind of development required. With its limited resources and even scarcer land area, Uttarakhand requires a cost effective and comprehensive plan that addresses the many requirements of the populace. They should know what is needed, even if there are differences on how it is to be done. If there is agreement on this, the government and opposition can present alternatives programmes on achieving this goal – right from the individual constituency to the state level. The people would then choose what they consider the better approach.

There is also confusion between the problem and its symptoms. Is unemployment, for instance, the cause or the consequence? Will merely changing the land laws improve the manner in which land is being used? What is the difference between preventing migration and encouraging reverse migration? How is the necessary urbanisation going to be managed, as also the shift from poorly paid jobs to more lucrative ones? At what point do lifestyle choices begin to kick in?

It is often seen that – for the lack of a proper party policy – elected representatives often pursue goals that are contrary to its basic ideology. Too often, success is measured in terms of how big a slice has been obtained for one’s constituency or special interest from what actually is a shrinking cake. In the end, it becomes all about consolidating quotas and reducing everybody to an ‘equal’ level of poverty. Advancement and accrual of wealth becomes anti-social, a crime!

Continuing with this approach even in severely challenging times like the present indicates a general disconnect from reality. One would expect the legislature to be seriously addressing the challenges that have emerged over the past nearly two years. Lucrative sectors like Tourism, Pilgrimage and Education need overarching strategies for recovery. Manufacturing and Retail, particularly in the plains, have their own set of challenges owing, not least, to supply and productivity issues. The much needed start-up culture and self-employment thrust need policy restructuring to get going. After a brief respite, corruption has risen at every level in the establishment, be it due to poor monitoring or downright collaboration by the top echelons. Attention has to be paid not only to this, but also to the leaks caused by inefficiency and negligence. Rules and regulations have to be made actually user friendly, and not just be tweaks in the system for show. All these are urgent requirements, not just abstract considerations for when elected representative have nothing else to do.