The 5Ts Can Take Odisha Closer To A $ 1 Trillion Economy

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We need not build a new Odisha every time. A target based approach with timelines is the simplest and the best way to achieve all round development. A transformed Odisha can always be the ‘new’ Odisha. The government has set a management paradigm, 5Ts for itself and has vowed to review the targets set after a year on May 29, 2020.

This commendable and futuristic approach would put valid pressure on the public systems. Gradually, accountability and appraisal would come out of the closet and public services can’t avoid public scrutiny. The appraisal has started with the police and the forest department now, but I am sure that if this performance monitoring system sustains, nothing can stop it from naturally progressing to other departments.

I have always maintained that the office of the Collector is the fulcrum of district development. If the Collector’s office is equipped with smart HR and technologies, ‘competitive federalism’ can simplify to ‘competitive districts’. The progress card would say it all. This would augur well for the career of a fresh and young IAS or an IPS or an IFS officer and hence in turn, for all the other officers in the districts. District as a unit of development and the Collector’s office as the secretariat of district development is the best way to implement 5Ts – or rather demonstrate 5Ts.

The 5Ts – Teamwork, Transparency, Time, Technology and Transformation, as propounded by the government, should inch Odisha closer to be a $ 1 trillion economy. If it works at the last mile, it would soon become a practice in the state. Rhetoric at the state level would reduce it to a catchphrase or a management case study with limited appeal or application for the people. Odisha needs action on the ground.

The mining districts need the 5Ts to impact the following:

  1. Health, Education and Employment to record at least 3X improvement in one year.

This is not a pipe dream. All the below surface, super-wealthy areas of the state are the tribal districts. This paradox needs ironing. The needs of the communities need to be assessed; resources allocated with department people tasked as program managers. The implementation of the programmes should be done by experts hired for a limited period. I would suggest lateral entry of experts into the programs, both at the state and the sub-state levels.

  1. The district GDP should be formulated, calculated and shared with the government implementers, the civil society of the district. This is a good way of making the district development targets transparent and decipherable for everyone in the district. The college students might like to intern at the Collectorate. That way, they would be more mainstreamed. Today, the youth of the district is at a distance from the development story. This way, civil society engagement in the development process would increase. The social media would be rightfully and productively used. Entrepreneurs in the district would be more engaged. The CSR programme would be more targeted. Today, the CSR programs are off the mark and mere rigmarole. Have you seen any impact report of any CSR on any district website? We have to lend more voice to the tribals about their own development and not ‘peddle” development politics in their name, like we have been doing with ‘poverty in Odisha’ for about three decades now.
  2. Sustainable Development Framework (SDF): Mining is going to add tremendous value to the national GDP (north of 2%) immediately in the next 3-5 years. India’s socio-economic and political standing would be positively impacted due to the mining in Odisha. There is a direct correlation. But what about the community people?

The Collectors should make the Sustainable Development Framework (SDF) to be mandatorily adopted by the mining companies. If we can make the SDF work for all our mine areas, believe me, Odisha would make a global example in “Mining Best Practice”. The people should be made aware of the mining activities and nothing should be encouraged to be done surreptitiously. In the past, we have been looted by crony capitalism and have been wilfully impoverished by the hideous business practices. Please encourage genuine Gram Sabhas.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Mission Shakti is one of the most impactful programmes in a low income economy, which has changed the standing of women in the society. For SHG members, the average income from direct benefit and from linkages with government schemes, has risen north of 5X in the last six years. This is legitimately unprecedented. The 5Ts should help galvanise and make this movement a large scale, pan state cooperative platform. This platform can make and trade a wide range of ethnic products and boost our identity, tourism, ethnicity and household incomes.  It is not only the government business (Rs 1,000 crore has been earmarked for self-help groups) but the women should also look at global business. The NROs and NRIs should be roped in.

The state has approved increasing the number of KALIA beneficiaries from 42 lakh to 75 lakh (about 16% of the population) and sanctioned disbursal of funds. The 5Ts mantra should now roll into action and measure the benefits and the impact. Otherwise, we would complete the circle of inefficiencies scuttling last mile reach of development.

If 5Ts can help us in effective investments and RoI for the communities, our state would have no impediments to reach $ 1 trillion size comfortably. We possess the resources, so our people should be the primary beneficiaries, not secondary. The 5Ts can help reverse this anomaly in roles.

The 5Ts formula, if percolated to the frontline functionaries of the government, has the potential to change the character of the state – one from dependence to assertive ownership.

My trust in the Collector is unflinching and I firmly believe that the 5Ts can deliver only with the active championing by the Collectors. They are closest to the ground and they know the best. We, in the periphery should do our best to support the Collectors. They need a lot of support in data, staff capacity building, contractual expert appointments, a fixed tenure for themselves and regular dissemination of the development work they do, etc.

The 5Ts secretariat should utilise local resources to do a quick situation analysis and tackle imminent requirements to plug the holes in access to public services. At the end, the 5Ts should result in rapid increase in the average value of assets of people in rural areas and urban areas. Presently, it is estimated at Rs 2.81 lakh, which is lowest in the country. Even in urban areas, people having an average value of assets of Rs 7.9 lakh, is the poorest.

For the economy, state governance and the future of the people, 5Ts are indispensable.

Let’s do everything possible to preserve the splendour of our beloved state.

 

 

[Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author has his own and do not necessarily represent that of the web portal]

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