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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Madhya Pradesh. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Madhya Pradesh. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Madhya Pradesh: The Undiscovered Polity Of Indian Face

By Parsa Venkatesh (Guest Writer)

Madhya Pradesh is an understated state in the country. It has a rich history to rival that of any other state but there seems to be no great fanaticism about its past. The past lives on quietly with a quiet present. More importantly, it has a natural grandeur of forest, hill, dale, plain, rivers, rivulets, lakes that is not to be found in the better-known scenic parts of the country. 

The state is also relatively under-populated, though the residents of Indore may complain that their city is getting overcrowded and that traffic snarls are worse than those of Mumbai. Madhya Pradesh reminds one of almost a virgin country, which can absorb immigrants in large numbers and this can be done without destroying the forests, without choking the rivers and lakes — as it has begun to partly in Bhopal — and keeping intact the sense of the expanse of the land.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Editorial: It's now Bijli, Sadak, Pani and Terror

By M H Ahssan

Driving through Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, just a few days before the terrorist attack in Mumbai, one got the distinct impression that bijli, sadak and pani (BSP) firmly remained the key issues impacting the assembly elections in both states.

More importantly, terrorism was not even remotely seen as an issue with the electorate, even though the BJP’s central leaders had tried their best to politicise the Malegaon terror episode. This may have changed after the Mumbai attacks. It is now emphatically bijli, sadak, pani and terrorism (BSPT), not necessarily in that order.

Congress party leaders admit privately that the terrorist strike could have instantly given the BJP the extra advantage in crucial states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi which voted just after the black Wednesday. Of course, the full debate on terrorism will play out at the general elections five months from now.

By then things may look a bit different as some distance from the event brings greater perspective. The Congress still has time to demonstrate its seriousness in tackling the growing threat of terror. Five months, after all, is a long time in politics.

The BJP will also try to appropriate, as much as possible, the issue of national security in the context of terrorism. It will be somewhat constrained by the unwieldy manner in which it sought to communalise the terror issue — though L K Advani is now correcting his course saying that he was merely on the issue of how the Maharashtra ATS had tortured the sadhvi allegedly involved in the Malegaon bomb blasts.

The BJP is already going through its own contortions to explain away its earlier stand on Maharashtra ATS chief Karkare, who fell to the terrorist’s bullet.

There will be a much more nuanced play of the terror issue in the months ahead. Meanwhile, the results of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi will help in gauging how the Congress and BJP would evolve their campaign strategy for general elections.

Barely three days before the Mumbai terror attack, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Chouhan candidly admitted to some journalists who met him at his Bhopal residence that there was a lot of anti-incumbency working at the constituency level. He also conceded that national level issues such as terrorism were not a factor at all at that time.

However, the chief minister felt confident that his positive image, linked with a larger vision for the state would beat the anti-incumbency at the level of MLAs. The biggest factor working against the BJP at the MLA level was the absence of bijli and pani, the very slogan which helped the party throw the Congress out of power five years ago. On an average, across Madhya Pradesh, villages are getting electricity just about five hours a day. Sans power, farmers are unable to pump up ground water.

Chouhan was honest enough to admit that part of the failure was caused by the dependence of the state on hydel power from Narmada river which did not have much water this year due to low rainfall. “What was supposed to generate 2,200MW is now only giving 800MW”, Chouhan said.

Despite the odds, Chouhan is seen as a winning horse because of what many see as his ability to connect with the poor in the state. Put simply, he is a 24x7 grassroots politician.

Does Congress have one in Madhya Pradesh? It is interesting to note that Chouhan tries to model himself as a strong regional leader like Narendra Modi, who is seen as having a finger on the pulse of the people. One also saw in Madhya Pradesh shades of Modi’s Gujarat strategy. For instance, Chouhan has fielded a large number of fresh faces to beat anti-incumbency at the local level.

Of course, the Congress’s major criticism against the chief minister is that he has promised a lot and done little. Even if that were true, it might be difficult for the Congress to cover the massive deficit in the total vote share it suffered in the last assembly elections.

In 2003, the BJP cornered 42% of the total votes polled in Madhya Pradesh, with the Congress bagging only 31%. Other things remaining the same, the Congress needs a 5% plus swing away from the BJP to cover the vote deficit, which seems like a tall order. The terrorist strike in Mumbai a day before the polling in the state may have made things even more difficult for the Congress.

The Congress, it would appear, has a much better chance of exploiting the anti-incumbency factor in Rajasthan where it lags behind the BJP in vote share by just 3%. It needs a 1.5% plus swing in its favour to challenge the BJP chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, who seems to be banking largely on her personal charisma, with not much help from the rest of the BJP leadership either at the state or central level. The party apparatus does not seem to have backed her to the hilt.

The Congress is somewhat better organised in Rajasthan this time and Vasundhara’s distance from her party leadership could help swing the state away from the BJP. Again, it is not clear how the issue of terrorism will play out in Rajasthan whose capital has been a target of major terror strikes in recent times. The voter turnout in Rajasthan, though, was quite high.

In Delhi, it seemed very clear that the sudden surge in voting after the Mumbai attack clearly reflected some anxiety among the urban middle class over the issue of national security. So, terrorism will certainly impact the outcome of the assembly polls.

The real test for India’s major political parties will come during the 2009 general elections. In many ways the Mumbai terror attacks may have already changed the discourse of national politics. Until recently, the view espoused by many political observers seemed to be that both the Congress and the BJP were in disarray and that a reinvented third front could emerge with Mayawati playing a key role.

The third front becomes a strong possibility if the Congress and BJP together fall well below the half way mark in the 545-seat Lok Sabha. At present the two main parties are a little above the half-way mark of 273 seats.

However, as national security and terrorism gain centre stage, as they are most likely to do, in the Lok Sabha elections, the electorate might prefer a coalition that is led by a stronger national party. This is an opportunity for both the BJP and the Congress. The contest to appropriate the national security plank should be quite engaging.

Editorial: It's now Bijli, Sadak, Pani and Terror

By M H Ahssan

Driving through Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, just a few days before the terrorist attack in Mumbai, one got the distinct impression that bijli, sadak and pani (BSP) firmly remained the key issues impacting the assembly elections in both states.

More importantly, terrorism was not even remotely seen as an issue with the electorate, even though the BJP’s central leaders had tried their best to politicise the Malegaon terror episode. This may have changed after the Mumbai attacks. It is now emphatically bijli, sadak, pani and terrorism (BSPT), not necessarily in that order.

Congress party leaders admit privately that the terrorist strike could have instantly given the BJP the extra advantage in crucial states such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi which voted just after the black Wednesday. Of course, the full debate on terrorism will play out at the general elections five months from now.

By then things may look a bit different as some distance from the event brings greater perspective. The Congress still has time to demonstrate its seriousness in tackling the growing threat of terror. Five months, after all, is a long time in politics.

The BJP will also try to appropriate, as much as possible, the issue of national security in the context of terrorism. It will be somewhat constrained by the unwieldy manner in which it sought to communalise the terror issue — though L K Advani is now correcting his course saying that he was merely on the issue of how the Maharashtra ATS had tortured the sadhvi allegedly involved in the Malegaon bomb blasts.

The BJP is already going through its own contortions to explain away its earlier stand on Maharashtra ATS chief Karkare, who fell to the terrorist’s bullet.

There will be a much more nuanced play of the terror issue in the months ahead. Meanwhile, the results of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi will help in gauging how the Congress and BJP would evolve their campaign strategy for general elections.

Barely three days before the Mumbai terror attack, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Chouhan candidly admitted to some journalists who met him at his Bhopal residence that there was a lot of anti-incumbency working at the constituency level. He also conceded that national level issues such as terrorism were not a factor at all at that time.

However, the chief minister felt confident that his positive image, linked with a larger vision for the state would beat the anti-incumbency at the level of MLAs. The biggest factor working against the BJP at the MLA level was the absence of bijli and pani, the very slogan which helped the party throw the Congress out of power five years ago. On an average, across Madhya Pradesh, villages are getting electricity just about five hours a day. Sans power, farmers are unable to pump up ground water.

Chouhan was honest enough to admit that part of the failure was caused by the dependence of the state on hydel power from Narmada river which did not have much water this year due to low rainfall. “What was supposed to generate 2,200MW is now only giving 800MW”, Chouhan said.

Despite the odds, Chouhan is seen as a winning horse because of what many see as his ability to connect with the poor in the state. Put simply, he is a 24x7 grassroots politician.

Does Congress have one in Madhya Pradesh? It is interesting to note that Chouhan tries to model himself as a strong regional leader like Narendra Modi, who is seen as having a finger on the pulse of the people. One also saw in Madhya Pradesh shades of Modi’s Gujarat strategy. For instance, Chouhan has fielded a large number of fresh faces to beat anti-incumbency at the local level.

Of course, the Congress’s major criticism against the chief minister is that he has promised a lot and done little. Even if that were true, it might be difficult for the Congress to cover the massive deficit in the total vote share it suffered in the last assembly elections.

In 2003, the BJP cornered 42% of the total votes polled in Madhya Pradesh, with the Congress bagging only 31%. Other things remaining the same, the Congress needs a 5% plus swing away from the BJP to cover the vote deficit, which seems like a tall order. The terrorist strike in Mumbai a day before the polling in the state may have made things even more difficult for the Congress.

The Congress, it would appear, has a much better chance of exploiting the anti-incumbency factor in Rajasthan where it lags behind the BJP in vote share by just 3%. It needs a 1.5% plus swing in its favour to challenge the BJP chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, who seems to be banking largely on her personal charisma, with not much help from the rest of the BJP leadership either at the state or central level. The party apparatus does not seem to have backed her to the hilt.

The Congress is somewhat better organised in Rajasthan this time and Vasundhara’s distance from her party leadership could help swing the state away from the BJP. Again, it is not clear how the issue of terrorism will play out in Rajasthan whose capital has been a target of major terror strikes in recent times. The voter turnout in Rajasthan, though, was quite high.

In Delhi, it seemed very clear that the sudden surge in voting after the Mumbai attack clearly reflected some anxiety among the urban middle class over the issue of national security. So, terrorism will certainly impact the outcome of the assembly polls.

The real test for India’s major political parties will come during the 2009 general elections. In many ways the Mumbai terror attacks may have already changed the discourse of national politics. Until recently, the view espoused by many political observers seemed to be that both the Congress and the BJP were in disarray and that a reinvented third front could emerge with Mayawati playing a key role.

The third front becomes a strong possibility if the Congress and BJP together fall well below the half way mark in the 545-seat Lok Sabha. At present the two main parties are a little above the half-way mark of 273 seats.

However, as national security and terrorism gain centre stage, as they are most likely to do, in the Lok Sabha elections, the electorate might prefer a coalition that is led by a stronger national party. This is an opportunity for both the BJP and the Congress. The contest to appropriate the national security plank should be quite engaging.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

MGNREGA In Madhya Pradesh: 'A Tale Of Ghost Beneficieries'

Out of 1.20 crore MGNREGA job cards in Madhya Pradesh, 53 lakh are fake. Now look at the other numbers. The state has been receiving around Rs 3,000 crore from the Centre every year since 2006. It means, a huge portion of this has gone to bogus beneficiaries. Add up all the money they siphoned off in the last six years. If it is a record in corruption, it is some record indeed.

The state government has woken up to the problem rather late. It has ordered the cancellation of all the fake cards and taken strong punitive action against several officials besides ordering recovery of about Rs 5 crore from them. But all this clearly is a case of too little, too late.

Sixty percent of the money under the Centre’s flagship programme goes toward paying for human labour. That explains 53 lakh fake job cards. The rest goes towards construction material and other heads.  As fake as the job cards or the beneficiaries, are the jobs undertaken. Construction, road-cutting and digging jobs done under MGNREGA happens only on paper. For the record, the state’s expenditure towards the flagship central programme was Rs 1,863 crore in 2006-07, Rs 3,000 crore in 2007-08, more than Rs 3,500 crore in 2008-09, Rs 4,000 crore in 2009-10, Rs 3,640 crore in 2011-12 and over Rs 1,900 crore in 2012-13.

Ajay Dubey, an RTI activist who has been waging a constant battle against corruption in MGNREGA across multiple districts since 2006, says, “Madhya Pradesh tops every other state of India where corruption in MGNREGA is concerned. Whether it is the amount bungled or the number of cases caught and reported, no other state can match the corruption happening, even now, in Madhya Pradesh.”

According to him, “Lack of transparency and accountability is the root of all corruption. It is like government functionaries from rural areas have been left with huge amounts of money to spend as they please. The scenario, quite predictably, is pure mayhem. There have been inquiries conducted upon MNREGA irregularities, on the state government’s behest by IIM Indore, IIFM Bhopal, and a research study was carried out by Mahila Chetna Manch, Bhopal. But none of the reports were made public by the department. I have myself reported massive irregularities in different districts, but those reports too just gather dust, and the officials turn a deaf ear, as there is nobody interested to clear the mess.”

Time and again the state and national media have taken their viewers and readers to spots supposed to have been lakes, ponds and other water bodies dug or roads constructed by MGNREGA beneficiaries as MGNREGA job. While the team has shown government records on paper proving the ‘jobs completed’ and the labour and costs paid for, they could not, however, show any physical evidence whatsoever of a road or a water-body existing on land.

Allegations are multi-pronged and numerous. A scheme targeted at the down-trodden class, i.e. dalits, Schedule Castes, below-poverty-line individuals, and those who were on the brink of abandoning their homes and state for want of livelihood, as reports suggest,  leaves out these very people from the payrolls. If they have been included, they have not been paid the full amount or not paid at all.

Veteran journalist LS Hardenia, says, “Powerful and prosperous men from villages, team up with administrative functionaries and place their own manpower on MGNREGA payrolls and use their labour for their field-work. This saves the rich money, and deprives actual needy dalits and adivasis of the benefits of a scheme made initially for them.”

He cites the cumulative case of village Naregaon, tehsil Gadarwara, of Narsinghpur district. “In this village, since February 2012, the lower caste villagers are being treated as outcastes. Their fault – they refused to dispose of the dead cattle of the upper caste villagers.”

“Now these were the people who actually needed MGNREGA. But not one job has gone to them. All the beneficiaries are from the upper caste villagers and labourers working for upper class and rich farmers of Naregaon,” he said adding, a fallout of this is that here the smaller farmers who need labour for their moderate farming needs, suffer. They cannot use bigger machines and are dependent upon labour from the village, which is now working for richer farmers at the cost of MGNREGA.

As per the findings of an inquiry conducted by the state government, 91 officers, including the then Collectors and the then CEO of Janpad Panchayat, have been found committing irregularities. Action was not taken against the high-ranking officials, two of which belong to the cocooned IAS clan.

Leader of Opposition in the MP Assembly, Congress MLA, Ajay Singh says, “There is rampant corruption in the scheme all over the state. But a Collector of a district, who is directly involved in, and responsible, is yet to be held responsible for the corruption, or punished. Action will continue to be taken against the small fry but no higher-up would be brought to the book.” Singh added that the state government and the CM were openly shielding IAS officers and CEOs. “This could point to the fact that politicians and high-ranking bureaucrats too are the beneficiaries of the MGNREGA pie,” he said.

The government, while accepting that irregularities have taken place, won’t agree that it is as rampant as it is being made out to be. “Since the time of its inception in the year 2006, the government has carried out 14 lakh MGNREGA jobs in the state. We have received complaints of irregularities against just three thousand jobs. That is not even 0.5 percent of total jobs done. If 99.5 percent jobs have been done satisfactorily, and if the state government is taking action against wrong-doers in the remaining 0.5 percent, how can you call the scheme a failure in Madhya Pradesh?” asked additional chief secretary, Aruna Sharma.

She added that taking action against the wrongdoers was the government’s priority. However, since it’s a procedural issue and involves in-depth inquiry, it takes time. “If allegations of corruption against Collectors and CEOs are proved correct, action will be taken against them too,” she said.

However, the larger issue remains unanswered yet. Most of those punished are engineers, who are directly responsible for the schemes. Who monitors them? Retired IAS officer Nirmala Buch, ex-chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh and the Head of Mahila Chetna Manch, Bhopal, the organisation that did a research study on MGNREGA for the Madhya Pradesh government in 2012, told INN that MGNREGA is a scheme with major design defects. The implementation had to be carried out extremely carefully in such schemes and the jobs undertaken must be need-driven.

“For example, water bodies have to be dug only at places where water shortage is at its worst. What it has ended up being is a scheme taken up by different Collectors, CEOs, Janpad functionaries, as it suited them, need or no need. District officials and Janpad functionaries decide the budget, the beneficiaries and their own interests. No practical guidance, no supervision and no monitoring have led to many jobs not done,” she said.

Recently, Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta has appointed retired judicial officials, retired IAS officers, chief engineers, IFS and state administrative officers as MGNREGA Lokpals.

How effective would retired officers be in monitoring construction jobs done in far-flung rural areas of Madhya Pradesh, is a question many would wonder about.

MGNREGA, in many instances in Madhya Pradesh has ended in jobs not done, in genuine beneficiaries not benefitting, and in money reaching the coffers of the rich and the powerful. What is required is speedy action against all those who have done extensive misappropriation of government funds and recovery of money from them.

This, however, looks like a tall order.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Netas' Sons, Daughters Contesting Above 50 Seat In India

By M H Ahssan | INNLIVE

ELECTIONS 2014 At least 50 parliamentary constituencies will be contested by 'sons and daughters' of politicians. From President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit to Rahul and Varun Gandhi, at least 50 parliamentary constituencies will be contested by ‘sons and daughters’ of politicians of various parties during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Of these, a majority of candidates have been fielded from the ruling Congress party.

Abhijit Mukherjee, a sitting MP, is contesting on a Congress ticket from his present Jangipur (West Bengal) constituency while Rahul Gandhi and Varun Gandhi are fighting from Amethi and Pilibhit constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, respectively.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Telangana: Inevitable And Desirable

The HNN has argued editorially that a just and sustainable solution to the Telangana issue can be found within an undivided Andhra Pradesh. 

In the winter of 1953, the Fazal Ali Commission was set up to reorganise the States of the Indian Republic. Its recommendation to go about creating States on linguistic lines, indirectly paved the way for the creation of Andhra Pradesh. Andhra was formed from the northern districts of the erstwhile Madras state and the southern districts of the erstwhile Hyderabad state — though the committee itself did not advocate such a merger and was against it.

Fifty-six winters later, the very concept of the creation of States based on linguistic lines has become passé. We need to look for fresh parameters for the creation of States, and that has to be based on holistic development on economic and social lines for better administration and management. This fact has been proven with the creation of Chhattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand from Bihar and Uttaranchal from Uttar Pradesh.

Two issues that seem to be at the centre of the contention between the two regions of Andhra Pradesh is the future of Hyderabad and the repercussions in terms of the sharing of river waters from the completed and planned irrigation projects after the division of the State. Any entity, political or otherwise, that is able to find pragmatic solutions to this conundrum would not only earn the respect of the people of the State but also help set a precedent in the matter of contentious State divisions in the future.

Economics of small States
The case for small States can be argued with two parameters of macroeconomic statistics from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The first parameter is the percentage increase in Gross Domestic Product for States between 1999-2000, when the smaller States were created, and 2007-2008. India’s overall GDP increased by 75 per cent during this time period. During the same period, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal recorded more than 100 per cent, 150 per cent and 180 per cent increase respectively. These rates were much above the rate at which national GDP increased. This clearly indicates that the recent creation of smaller States was a step in the right direction.

Experts have often argued that the creation of smaller States has been at the expense of the States they were created from. For all its lack of governance, Uttar Pradesh grew by more than 21 per cent of the national average during this time period.

The second parameter, the percentage contribution of States to national GDP, helps negate the myth of smaller States growing at the expense of the States they are created from. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh each contributed the same amount to national GDP. While the contributions of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh increased by 0.01 per cent and 0.06 per cent respectively, Uttar Pradesh’s contribution to national GDP increased by 1.2 per cent during the same time period. This is more than Chhattisgarh’s percentage increase in the contribution of 0.64 per cent to national GDP, the highest increase among the three newly created smaller States.

Capital politics
Hyderabad is an integral part of Telangana and a Telangana State without Hyderabad as the capital is inconceivable. However, the militant rhetoric of some political parties has made people of other areas feel unwelcome, creating an air of mistrust among the Telugu-speaking people of various regions. This is not only constitutionally illegal but also extremely foolish as it affects the image of Brand Hyderabad. Everybody who has come to Hyderabad in search of a better quality of life must be protected. Rhetorical slogans such as Telangana waalon jaago, Andhra waalon bhago gives the impression of an exclusionist movement that forces people of the non-Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh out of Hyderabad rather than a movement where the people of Telangana want greater autonomy for their region. 

Significantly, when Maharashtra and Gujarat were created from the then Bombay state on the recommendation of the States Reorganisation Commission, there was fear about Mumbai losing its importance as a financial nerve-centre as a lot of investment in Mumbai had been made by Gujarati business people. The creation of two separate States did not halt Mumbai’s rapid development. In fact, it additionally paved the way for the development of Ahmedabad and Surat as alternative financial centres. Hyderabad can emulate the same model. As in the past 400 years, the city can continue to welcome people with open arms rather than close its gates to fresh talent and creative ideas.

The people of the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions feel that the benefits reaped from Hyderabad must be accessible to all those who have been equal stakeholders in the city’s development. The solution to this is not alternative models such as according Hyderabad the status of a Union Territory or making Hyderabad a joint capital for the States carved out of present-day Andhra Pradesh. These solutions are just not practical. A better approach would be to plan a special financial package for the development of a new State capital for the non-Telangana region. Pragmatism would dictate that the special package be funded through some form of cess on the city of Hyderabad for a limited period rather than running to large financial institutions for loans, as has been proposed by some political entities.

Social dynamics of water
About 70 per cent of the catchment area of the Krishna and close to 80 per cent of the catchment area of the Godavari is located in the Telangana region. Across the world, water distribution and sharing schemes between two areas is calculated on the basis of the percentage of the catchment area that lies in the region. Other factors that influence water-sharing accords is the population of a given region, the projected usage of water for industry and the domestic population, and the physical contours of the region through which the river flows.

Take the instance of the Godavari, where the areas planned for large dams in the Telangana have not been found feasible for various reasons. As the Sriramsagar project on the Godavari already exists, it is not feasible to build another large dam on the Godavari until after the Pranahitha tributary joins the Godavari. There is not enough water to be harnessed on a continuous basis for the project to be economically feasible if the dam is built before the Pranahitha joins the main river. The Inchampally project, a national project whose benefits are to be shared between the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, was one such large project that was proposed. Though the project was conceived a long time ago, it has run into typical issues that are usually associated with projects that have multiple States as stakeholders. 

Though Andhra Pradesh, by large, is the main beneficiary of the project, the project plan estimates more forest land being submerged in Maharashtra (47.7 per cent) than in Andhra Pradesh (29.9 per cent; all land in Telangana). An equal amount of cultivable land will be submerged in Chhattisgarh (41.8 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (42.2 per cent; all land in Telangana). And, more villages that belong to Maharashtra (100) will be submerged as compared to Andhra Pradesh (65). This has obviously made the other States reluctant to move as quickly as Andhra Pradesh on this project.

The link canal that has been planned between Inchampally and Nagarjuna Sagar that is proposed to irrigate the regions of Telangana in between also involves prohibitive costs as a result of the 107-metre lift that is required for the water to reach the Nagarjuna Sagar. The lift itself will require a separate hydro-electric power project for the project to be feasible. Commonsense and pragmatism would have ensured that a project in Kanthamapalli or Kaleswaram be pursued. Additionally, three smaller step- dams between Yellampalli and Sriramsagar must be devised with a realistic State-level river-interlinking plan. Inchampally is not an exception, but the trend in how political leaders across the aisle in Telangana have been caught up in the big-projects-to-line-my-pockets mentality at the cost of the development of the region by looking at smaller, realistic projects to execute.

The finale
The Telangana agitation is the only such movement in India that involves a capital city located in the region that is fighting for separation from the main State. This clearly reflects on the lack of governance and civic administration in this area as the benefits of having a State capital in the hinterland have not trickled down to other areas in that region.

Smaller States still need a good and vibrant administration to be recipes for success. Chhattisgarh is a fine example of how an effective administration could turn around a State in all aspects of development. The development that has happened in the Chhattisgarh region from Independence till 2000 has in fact been less than the development that has taken place from the time a new State was created in 2000 till now. The first Telangana Chief Minister would have done a great service to the infant State should he take a prescription from Chhattisgarh’s most famous Ayurvedic doctor.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why Congress Is Likely To Lose Battle For Middle India?

By Ankit Trivedi / INN Live

The Congress should have been riding the anti-incumbency wave to power. INN Live travel across central India to discover why the party is floundering. The analysis of INN Live tour shows the anti-Congress wave is dominated in central India states while Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) puts its strong hold with a strong leadership and enormous public support despite Congress party's public services. BJP's main agenda is to expose the scandals of Congress regime and show the party's grass-root public work towards minorities and rural people. Congress mostly works in urban areas to populate its populist schemes and utterly failed to reach rural India in these regions. INN Live minutely analysed the entire situations and sketched as following state-wise sequences.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Why Kerala Is like Kuwait & Madhya Pradesh Is Like Haiti?

For its level of income, India, as well as many of its states, could do a much better job in taking care of their most vulnerable people.

American poet Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”—“Do I contradict myself/ Very well then I contradict myself/I am large, I contain multitudes”—seems tailor-made for India. Which country can India be compared to, in economic terms? Is India’s level of economic development more or less like Vietnam’s, because their per capita incomes, in international dollars and in purchasing power parity terms, are almost the same?

Monday, December 09, 2013

Editorial: What 2013 Results Mean For Poll 2014 Scenario?

By M H Ahssan | INN Live

The results of the 2013 assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are out but those looking for clear pointers towards how the next general election will play out are likely to be left scratching their heads.

The Bharatiya Janata Party turned in a spectacular performance in Rajasthan and wrested the state from the Congress. It has retained Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, the latter with a significant increase in its seat share. But in Delhi, the BJP failed to properly ride the wave of anti-Congress sentiment, yielding crucial political space to the Aam Aadmi Party and falling short of a clear-cut majority.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Revealed: Multi-Crore MPPEB Scam Trail Traced To Saifai?

By Sofia Razzack | Bhopal

The Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam trail can be traced to Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's ancestral village in Saifai district of Etawah district. In a revelation, a teenage prodigy and internet activist has leaked information pertaining to the exam scam in Madhya Pradesh, said reports.

This comes days after Lokayukta sleuths raided the house of former controller of examinations, Dr Pankaj Trivedi, the key accused in the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board (MPPEB) scam.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Prespective Of 'Vyapam Scam': After Rapid Political Rise, CM Chouhan May Sink In Cash-For-Jobs Scandal

By Newscop
Group Managing Editor
Once seen as a prime ministerial candidate, the Madhya Pradesh chief minster is now trying just to survive the crisis.

The cash-for-jobs, or Vyapam, scam surfaced four months before a moment of glory for Madhya Pradesh’s Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Already eight years in office, the chief minister was hailed as the hero of a spectacular electoral victory in the state assembly election of 2013.

Sporadic cases of ineligible candidates being granted admission to the state’s six medical colleges had been surfacing in the media for many years. The public also had a sense of the longstanding nexus between Madhya Pradesh’s professional examination officials and admission touts.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Clinical Trials: Storm in the Medicine Chest

Why the regulatory turmoil in India’s pharmaceutical establishment is good.

In 2005, Rajkumar Tiwari, a clerk at a transport company in Indore, had a son. The mother and child were doing well, and Tiwari was happy. At the end of the first month, his wife took the baby to Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, a children’s hospital attached to Indore’s largest public hospital, for what they thought was a routine inoculation. She was made to sign a few papers, after which the baby was given two injections on his heel by paediatrician Dr Hemant Jain. Within 24 hours, their child was dead.

Ashish Jatav was luckier. A day after his son was born, the embroidery worker received a call from the same hospital asking him to bring the child. His wife and mother took the child there, where he was given what Jatav thinks was “some kind of polio vaccine” by Dr Jain. In all, the child received “either three or four” doses. That was in 2008.

Tiwari put his son’s death down to fate. “I didn’t even try to contact the hospital,” he says. And Jatav didn’t make any further enquiries about the vaccine his son had received.

That’s where matters would have rested had it not been for a question on clinical trials that cropped up in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly in late 2010. In response, the health department submitted a list of 81 people who had been enrolled in clinical trials between 2006 and 2010. That, shockingly, is how Tiwari and Jatav realised that their children had been used as guinea pigs in clinical trials.

The papers their illiterate wives had been made to sign had been passed off as the ‘informed consent’ that is required from participants in clinical trials. They had been given no verbal explanations, nor were they given copies of the documents they had signed. They had trusted the doctors of Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya, the city’s largest public children’s hospital.

Investigations by the state government and RTI requests from activists revealed that Dr Jain was conducting these trials for Panacea Biotec, a large Delhi-based pharmaceutical company. Jatav’s son was given drops of an untested polio vaccine, and according to PD Karan of Panacea, Tiwari’s son got the Haemophilus influenzae type B conjugate vaccine.

In its defence, Panacea claims that all participants in their trials were given consent forms in Hindi, which were subsequently approved by the hospital’s ethics committee.

The company says that of the 640 children involved, three died during the trials. Panacea claims that none of the deaths was related directly to the trials.

However, Panacea was not the only company for which Dr Jain was running trials. According to a report by the Madhya Pradesh government’s Economic Offences Wing, he conducted clinical trials on 2,500 patients for a number of different companies between 2006 and 2010. There were 18 deaths during the course of these trials, none of which was investigated by any independent agency.

Dr Jain, a government doctor, was paid Rs 1.7 crore for the trials. Not a penny of that went to the hospital. Dr Jain says he is “not interested in answering any questions”.

“We might be poor,” says Tiwari angrily, “but even the poorest wouldn’t subject their children to a trial vaccine.”

India emerged as a global pharma destination in 2005 when it amended patent laws to recognise product patents. Also amended were the rules that required foreign companies to conduct clinical trials in India only after they had successfully completed trials abroad. Now, companies could conduct trials in India concurrently and use clinical trial data generated in India for their patent applications abroad.

The clinical trial market burgeoned, growing from almost non-existent to one that the Boston Consulting Group estimates is now worth $400 million a year.

However, India’s regulatory infrastructure and the laws governing the pharma sector had not changed significantly. They were completely inadequate to control an industry that had been growing at over 20 percent every year.

As new details emerged in Madhya Pradesh, the issue simmered. Anand Rai of Indore-based NGO Swasth Samarpan Seva Samiti tried to get in touch with all the 81 participants, and filed RTI requests to unearth more details about the trials.

Then, last January, Swasthya Adhikar Manch, another Indore-based NGO, filed a case in the Supreme Court alleging that the Madhya Pradesh government had allowed completely unregulated, large-scale clinical trials of a whole array of drugs. In a writ petition, it alleged that many other states had done the same. It wanted the Union health ministry to provide details about the number of people enrolled in clinical trials, the number of deaths and the compensation given.

And that cracked open the anarchic can of worms that the pharma establishment in India (both government and private) had become. It was going to be a year of more revelations and indictments. What happened in Madhya Pradesh had also happened in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and many other states.

The chaos in clinical trials, it emerged, was mirrored by regulatory laxity in drug control and the government’s tacit submission to various vested interests on intellectual property issues.

The blowback was swift. The furore on clinical trials was followed by a scathing Parliamentary Committee report on the functioning of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), the apex body for drug approval and the regulation of clinical trials in the country.

At the same time, the Indian Patent Office rejected a number of major patent applications of pharma MNCs, and issued the first compulsory licence for the manufacture of a drug in India. This lead to a drastic reduction in the prices of critical drugs used to treat diseases like cancer.

The government also took a conservative stand on FDI in pharma, unlike what it was doing in most other sectors. The Department of Pharmaceuticals introduced a new drug price control system, the first amendment since 1994.

In the meantime, the Planning Commission was working on a broader canvas, suggesting changes that would refocus India’s health policy in the 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-17) on public health. The individual regulatory processes had started earlier, but in 2012, the strands coalesced into what will hopefully become a comprehensive net.

Everyone in the pharma industry has been affected. In a departure from the norm, the three government departments that handle pharma issues — the ministries of health; chemicals and fertilisers; and commerce — have spurred into action.

Pressure from civil society and the SC’s intervention has set into motion a series of regulatory changes in the pharma establishment that will have far-reaching consequences, determining the path of the industry over the next decade.

“It was the year when drugs took centrestage,” says Dr Ranjit Roy Chaudhury, who has worked with the government, the WHO and a number of private research organisations on health policy. “Public consciousness has been raised, and today more than ever before, there is demand for better control and availability of medicines and the rational use of drugs.”

But greater government regulation has meant reduced profits for the pharma industry, and that has not gone down well. So rattled is the industry that Tapan Ray, the head of the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India, hopes that “what happened in 2012 will not be a general trend in the future”.

Unfortunately for him, the ball has already been set rolling. What started last year is gathering pace, and will be refined by a series of reports and court orders that are expected. It’s leading to greater transparency and accountability in the government’s health regulation and in the private medical and pharma industry.

When Rai filed an RTI request with the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) asking for data on clinical trials, he was first stonewalled. Then emerged a smorgasbord of conflicting data. All of it seemed to point in one direction.

Not only did the apex drug control body (of which the DCGI is the head) not maintain a central database of clinical trial deaths, but there was little monitoring of trials or the compensation paid to victims who suffered serious adverse drug reactions. This was despite the fact that all clinical trials post 2009 are required to be registered on the Clinical Trials Registry.

That the monitoring of clinical trials had been almost non-existent became obvious by the end of 2012, as the government pulled out different, often conflicting data.

According to the DCGI, there had been 2,031 deaths during clinical trials between 2008 and 2011. 668 of these had taken place in 2010, of which 22 were directly related to clinical trials. In these cases, the companies conducting the trials had paid varying compensations, but the DCGI was not aware of the amounts.

The ethics committees overseeing clinical trials were responsible for deciding whether a death was related directly to it. In a clear conflict of interest, these committees were, according to Rai, “composed of members from the institutions where the trials were being held”.

The DCGI did not furnish data for the other years. “The data of respective trial sites and their respective states is not maintained by this directorate,” it averred. No action has been taken against the drug companies, clinical trial research organisations or the hospitals involved.

In the meantime, other data emerged in an answer given by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad in response to a question in Parliament. According to him, there were 16 deaths each in 2009 and 2011. Compensation had been paid in all cases that occurred in 2011.

The government had no rules on compensation to the victims of clinical trails, therefore the money doled out by the companies in all these cases had been at their discretion.

Yet more data emerged from the case filed by Swasthya Adhikar Manch in the SC. In an affidavit filed on 3 January by R Chandarashekar of CDSCO, the government claimed that between 1 January 2005 and 30 June 2012, there had been 2,644 deaths during clinical trials. Of these, 80 were directly due to the trials. Compensation had been paid in the 40 cases that occurred in 2008-11; and the agency was “now ascertaining the status of such cases pertaining to the year 2005 onwards”.

The figures from all the sources above were at variance. Azad’s reply in Parliament put the deaths in 2009-11 at 54, whereas the CDSCO affidavit put it at 40 for a longer period!

A similar state of confusion prevailed when it came to the number of patients enrolled in clinical trials across India.

Those who had suffered serious adverse reactions were completely ignored. The CDSCO affidavit put their numbers at 11,972 (for the same period), of which it stated that 506 were related to clinical trials. The CDSCO was not aware if any compensation had been paid in these cases.

Matters only got murkier.

Not only did the drug controller not have any reliable data on clinical trials, Azad’s reply revealed that it had conducted only 23 inspections of trial sites and companies in 2008-12. Shockingly, during this period, the same agency had allowed the clinical trials of 1,544 drugs.

All this had worked in favour of the growing clinical trial industry with clinical trials of drugs that Mira Shiva of the All India Drug Action Network says are “largely irrelevant to India”.

India was a cheap destination for pharma MNCs to conduct clinical trials (for drugs to be marketed abroad), and there was a huge pool of people to be used.

Ironically, while on the one hand these clinical trials were growing, the drug control agency was increasingly letting pharma firms introduce new drugs in India without conducting mandatory clinical trials.

In a May 2012 report, which Dr Chaudhury calls “remarkable” and “unprecedented” for its brutal honesty, a Parliamentary Standing Committee pointed out these glaring violations.

Randomly scrutinising the approval of 42 new drugs given by CDSCO, the committee found that files for three controversial drugs were untraceable.

Of the remaining 39 for which the files did exist, 11 drugs were not put through mandatory phase III trials. Thirteen drugs were not approved for sale in any major developed country (including Buclizine, a controversial appetite stimulant for children) and had no “special relevance to India”. For 25 drugs, approval had not been taken from medical experts.

In all, the regulator had waived the mandatory clinical trial requirement for 31 drugs between January 2008 and October 2010. This included Ambrisentan, a hypertension medication manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, and Colistimethate, an antibiotic made by Cipla, which were likely to be used widely.

More worryingly, it pointed out that most of “expert opinions” justifying the waivers were “written by the invisible hands of drug manufacturers and experts merely obliged by putting their signatures”.

“The clinical trial system was a complete mess,” says Sakthivel Selvaraj, a health economist at the New Delhi-based Public Health Foundation of India.

As these revelations emerged, the government was forced to act. The CDSCO put out guidelines regulating the ethics committees overseeing clinical trials. The guidelines stipulate that the committees should have at least seven members, including some who are independent of the institution conducting the trial, besides one layperson (not from the medical establishment). It also required the committees to be registered with the state or central licensing authority.

There were also guidelines for the compensation for injuries and deaths related to clinical trials. These took into account the patient’s age, earning capacity and the extent of injury.

The onus of proving that an injury or death was not due to the clinical trial was transferred to the sponsor, and a time frame stipulated within which the victim was to be compensated. Ethics committees were now required to report all adverse reactions to the regulator.

A whole slew of New Drug Advisory Committees were also constituted to advise the CDSCO on the approval of clinical trials and new drugs. Clinical trials of new drugs would now have to be approved by a separate committee controlled by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR).

In its order on 3 January, the SC was even more restrictive, directing that all clinical trial applications be temporarily approved by the health ministry secretary.

A government panel set up to look into the Parliamentary Standing Committee’s allegations on the approval of new drugs has submitted its report, which is yet to be made public. VM Katoch, head of this committee and director-general of ICMR, did not respond to emails and phone calls.

Predictably, the pharma and clinical trial industry is worried. Anil Raghavan, head of the Indian operations of Quintiles, a large MNC contract research and clinical trial company, finds these changes disturbing. “These are knee-jerk solutions to societal concerns,” he says. “They have caused confusion and concern in the industry about the intent and direction of government policy.”

A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Confederation of Indian Industries reiterates this stating that as a result of these changes and the consequent delays in clinical trial approvals “some contract research organisations are looking to increase focus on other geographies”.

That wouldn’t be cause for concern in the case of clinical trials of drugs that are not relevant to India, but it could lead to significant delays in the introduction of important drugs manufactured by MNCs.

In the long run, this regulatory churn seems inevitable, almost overdue. It’s the first step to a more radical and comprehensive overhaul. “Making these changes in our system is very difficult,” says Chaudhury, “this is the start of a process that will play out across the next decade.”

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Fake Federalism: How 'National Parties' Turned The Concept Of 'Rajya' In Rajya Sabha Into A Farce?

By NEWSCOP | INNLIVE 

The upper House of Parliament, literally a Council of States, was meant to be a federal chamber to look out for the interests of the states.

The continued abuse of the idea of the Rajya Sabha – or the Council of States – by the so-called national parties continues with the upcoming round of Rajya Sabha elections.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Swachch Bharat's Mothers, Babies In Peril: 343 Hospitals In 6 States Struggle With Hygiene, Toilets


By LIKHAVEER | INNLIVE


Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan is acheived by Modi's government but the reality is quite different,  as many as 19% of the facilities did not have wash basins near toilets and patient-care areas.


Half the post-natal wards of primary healthcare centres lacked toilets, as did 60% of larger community health centres in Madhya Pradesh, which has a higher maternal mortality rate than war-torn Syria.Open defecation was allowed within 38% and open urination in 60% of health facilities (PHCs, CHCs, area and district hospitals) in Odisha’s Ganjam district, which has the same maternal mortality rate as the impoverished African country of Gabon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

NEGLECTING INDIAN FORESTS - 1 : 'MISSING TIMBER FOR WOOD'

INN will run a special series of reporting from different forests across the country on neglected and dis-functional forests. INN reports the actual findings. This is the first story of this series.

As the demand-supply gap for timber widens in India, it is time to exploit the potential of private plantations and government-managed forests in a sustainable manner.

For the past five years, Rambharos Kamedia, a farmer in Madhya Pradesh, has been receiving a lot of attention. A dense teak forest he raised on his farm near Satwas village in Devas district is visited by the who’s who of the forestry circle. The state government projects it as one of the success stories of its much acclaimed Lok Vaniki scheme. Kamedia, however, is no more amused. Rather, he feels cheated.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Exclusive: Are Indian 'Chief Ministers' Safe In Next Polls?

By M H Ahssan / INN Live

Seems that incumbent chief ministers in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi are safe in the forthcoming Assembly polls with the opposing political parties not succeeding enough to create a ground to dislodge them even from their constituencies.

Anti-incumbency is visible in the election-going states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, but not against incumbent chief ministers.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Exclusive: Why India Needs More States And A Bigger Govt

By Kajol Singh / INN Bureau

Our states are bloated and this is one reason they are not manageable. If India’s states were nations, 10 of the world’s top 21 countries would come from India. Uttar Pradesh, with more people than Pakistan, would be the world’s fifth largest country. The chief minister of that state rules as many people as the Chancellor of Germany and the prime ministers of France and Britain put together.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Telangana History: Congress Will Win But TRS May Lose?

By Sanjay Singh / INN Bureau

After initial belligerence, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy has made a complete about turn over the creation of a separate Telengana state. Reddy seem to be doing what Lalu Prasad Yadav did 13 years ago when then NDA government decided to bifurcate Bihar and carve out Jharkhand. “Over my dead body”, a defiant Lalu  then said but soon allowed a resolution for the creation of Jharkhand to be moved in the Bihar assembly and also have it passed.

Reddy is doing the same after threatening to resign over the “destructive decision”, he now wants to abide by the party high command decision and “move on”.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Will This Election See Higher Turnout After 'Poll Tamasha'?

By M H Ahssan | INNLIVE

ANALYSIS While an increased turnout in Assembly elections is not an indicator of the same in Lok Sabha elections, aggressive campaigning points toward a higher turnout in this poll.

If the pattern of turnout in the Assembly elections held over the last couple of years are of any indication, the turnout in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections should significantly increase. Almost all the Assembly elections held in different States between 2012-13 witnessed a higher turnout compared to those held in previous years. 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Muslim Vote: Not Swept Up In Modi Wave Or Rahul Mania

By Sanjay Malik | INNLIVE

In an election where the most prominent prime ministerial candidate is the starkly polarising Narendra Modi, it follows that the behaviour of the Muslim voter could have a telling impact on the eventual outcome. 

Whether the Muslim vote consolidates clearly against the BJP, whether Muslim voters in constituency after constituency vote carefully and tactically with the only objective of denying a victory to the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate, this could be key to how far the NDA finds itself from its the magic number of 272 MPs on May 16.