Opinion:A Road Map of Positive Hopes
When President Shri Pranab Mukherjee unfolded the roadmap of development—Ek Bharat-Shreshtha Bharat, at Central Hall of Parliament on June 9, the Opposition members, during the discussion on motion of thanks, raised questions over the feasibility of the goal. They went on saying how what could not be achieved so far can be achieved in five years. Replying to the queries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi very firmly said that it will be done with the involvement of all 125 crore citizens and Members of the House.
Shri Mukherjee said the government is committed to nurturing the right environment for actualising the mandate of the people. For this, the government pledges itself to the principle of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. On it, Shri Modi said we have to march forward collectively, not on the basis of numbers alone. Stressing to make development a mass movement he generated a hope for the rural population also. Referring to the term ‘urban’ mentioned in President's speech he said the country's economy would be benefitted a lot if urban amenities are provided in rural areas – suvidhaa shahar ki, aatma gaon ki.
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On Centre-state relations the Modi government has taken a very positive initiative. Emphasising on Centre-state relation, the President said, ‘India is a federal polity. But, over the years, the federal spirit has been diluted. The states and the Centre should function as an organic ‘Team India’. In order to actively engage with the States on national issues, government will reinvigorate fora like the National Development Council and the Inter-State Council. He said the Centre will be an enabler in the rapid progress of states through Cooperative Federalism.
The Constitution of India provides for a number of mechanisms to promote co-operative federalism. Article 263 empowers the President to establish Inter-State Council to promote better co-ordination between the Centre and states. Inter-State Council was formally constituted in 1990. It is headed by Prime Minister and includes six Cabinet Ministers of the Union and Chief Ministers of all states and union-territories. Zonal Councils were set-up under the State Reorganisation Act, 1956, to ensure greater cooperation amongst states in the field of planning and other matters of national importance. The Act divides the country into six zones and provides a Zonal Council in each zone. Each Council consists of the Chief Minister and two other ministers of each of the states in the zone and the administrator in the case of the union territory. The Union Home Minister is common chairman of all the zonal councils.
In spite of all these constitutional mechanisms, the Centre-State relations remained tense on different issues all through the years. Sometimes it seems both the Centre and the states are working in different directions resulting in people suffering hugely. Hence, for the welfare of people and proper development of the nation, the President emphasised on the spirit of ‘Team India’.
Since Shri Narendra Modi himself has been Chief Minister of a State, he knows well how the bitterness between the Centre and the states hampers development and makes people suffer. That is why replying to the Members on motion of thanks he assured the country that he would work with the spirit of collectiveness with all the State governments irrespective of their political likings. He also assured that his government is not going to adopt a ‘big brother’ attitude that looks down upon states and behaves as if Centre is offering crumbs. We collectively want to take the country forward. That is why we talk of collective federalism.
For a healthy developmental atmosphere the PM also emphasised on competition for development among states. In this regard, he praised the developmental claims made by Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu, Mamata Banerjee’s in West Bangal, emergence of Sikkim as an organic State, development of unique PDS system in naxal affected Chhattisgarh and development work done by Kerala and Nagaland. He also emphasised that whatever is good in the States would be adopted for holistic development of the country.
-Dr Ravindra Agrawal (The writer is a senior journalist)