IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
Chandrababu Naidu ia known more for his obsession with technology and computers.
Little is known about his watershed mission
Dream politician. Going by common sense, that seems like a contra-
diction in terms. But recently, N Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister
(CM) of Andhra Pradesh, has been dubbed just that: a near-perfect
model of one such "dream politician". The World Link magazine,
published from Davos in Switzerland by the World Economic Forum,
recently included him in its "dream cabinet" of political leaders.
Naidu, with 48 Andhra summers behind him, is better known
for his efficiency in management and not his rural development programmes. "The CM has systematically planned his programmes and
the success of his ideas are gradually reflecting in people's
increasing participation in the development process," says Randeep Sudan, special secretary to CM.
Extremely techno-savvy and most
comfortable clicking away at his
laptop computer, he keeps a tab on
the latest developments in the state.
Naidu's obsession with technology
and efficiency has earned him the
moniker of Andhra Pradesh's CEO,
He has been pushing hard to make
the state capital Hyderabad India's
answer to USA's Silicon Valley, meeting Bill Gates, CEO, Microsoft Inc, and
persuading him to set up a research
and development facility.
M S Shankar, a senior journalist and political analyst in
Hyderabad, says, "Naidu has
gradually shifted focus from
urban development to rural
uplift after an internal party
survey of the Telegu
Desam Party (TDP). The
survey results showed
that the party would get
only 50-60 seats out of 294
in the coming assembly elections
if it continues with its urban-oriented policy. The main
vote bank for TDP is in rural areas. However, Sudan denies this,
stressing that Naidu has been focusing on rural development ever since he became the CM.
At present, some of the CM's
central concerns are rural development and environment protection. "Its our responsibility to give
our future generations a better environment," he says. Kallol
Biswas, district forest officer, Anantapur, says: "I have not known a chief minister who takes so much interest in forest conservation
activities. He himself reviews the forest activities and holds
regular meetings with forest officials."
That is Naidu today. A quarter of a century ago, Naidu completed his post-graduation n economics from the Sri Venkateswara
University, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, and became politically
active. In 1978, he was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative
Assembly from Chandragiri constituency in Chittoor district. As
the general secretary of the TDP in 1985, Naidu was instrumental
in strengthening the party's organisation from the grassroots
level, where the TDP has its base. In 1989 and 1994, Naidu was
elected to the state legislature from the Kuppam constituency
of Chittoor district. On September 1, 1995, he was elected as the
state's chief minister.
After coming to power, he introduced several developmental
programmes, including the Janmabhoomi programme and other
projects such as Joint Forest Management and watershed
development. "I want to empower people and give them better
governance," the cm explains. However, some people express dissatisfaction with the implementation of the programmes. "Naidu is corrupting the very idea of participatory watershed development programmes.
Politicians and bureaucrats have formed NGOs just
to grab the projects with an aim to mint money.
Transparency in most of the watershed projects is
missing," says P V Satheesh, director, Deccan
Development Society, Hyderabad. Further, D L
Ravindra, Congress MLA and former minister, says that
the way Naidu is launching programmes, it is not
possible to fulfill their objectives. Most of Naidu's
programmes have not taken off due to a fund
crunch, he says.
Naidu is now working towards bringing several administrative reforms n the state n an attempt to cut red-tapism, which, effectively kills all government initiatives.
BASIS OF RATING: There is more to
Chandrababu Naidu, the "CEO" of Andhra
Pradesh Inc, than just information
technology, say readers. Among the
335 respondents, he was the choice of
21 percent. But only half of the environmentalists felt he was working
towards sustainable development
Two-thirds of the respondents felt he had
promoted the civil society. They gave
examples of the Janmabhoomi, Joint
Formt Management and watershed
management programmes to justify this
REVIEW OF WORK
"My vision of Andhra Pradesh is one where poverty is totally
eradicated; where every man, woman and child has access to not
just the basic minimum needs but to all the opportunities for
leading a happy and fulfilling life; a knowledgeable and learning
society built on the values of hard work," says Chandrababu
Naidu, the chief minister (CM) of Andhra Pradesh. To make
good this vision, people have to be involved in the development
process. "My biggest priority is rural development," he says.
He launched the Janmabhoomi, watershed management
and Joint Forest Management (JFM) programmes to bring
about sustainable development in the state. He has also initiated several self-help groups such as the Water Users'
Association to involve farmers in the management of
irrigation systems, Development of Women and Children in
Rural Areas (DWCRA) groups, and village education and health
committees. The Janmabhoomi, JFM and DWCRA programmes
have been successful. According to Randeep Sudan, special
secretary to CM, "Environment is one of the focal points for the
government's programmes. The state government in the
Vision 2020 has identified environment as a priority."
The Janmabhoomi programme was launched in May 1997. In
this, people identify their problems in gram sabhas, which are
conducted by the nodal officers of the particular region, and
send project proposals to the government. Gram sabhas are
conducted in areas with a population of more than 200 people.
The five core areas of Janmabhoomi are community work,
primary education, primary health, family welfare and
environmental protection. Work is under two categories:
earth work and non-earth work. The former includes building
of roads, canals and drains. The government and the public
contribute equally for every project. Non-earth work includes
plantation of trees, meeting educational, health, fodder and
drinking water needs. Here, the public pays 30 per cent of
the cost of the project in the form of shramdan (voluntary
labour) and the government pays the rest. All the projects are
executed within a stipulated time period.
In 1997-98, the government planted nearly 46 million
trees under the Clean and Green Campaign, which is a part
of the Janmabhoomi programme. It has sanctioned 66,883
proposals for community development, valued at about
Rs 941.17 crore. On the education front, 631,000 children
have been enrolled in schools. In the same period, nearly
811,000 children were immunised and 2,472,000 patients
treated in 91,648 special health camps.
"The confidence levels of people have risen and their
attitude towards government-run development programmes
has changed," says Murali Dhardu, professor at the department of rural development, S K University, Anantapur. The
CM closely monitors day-to-day affairs of the Janmabhoomi
programme. Yet people in rural areas have complaints. "We
are so disillusioned with the implementation of the
Janmabhoomi programme that we have decided not to allow
any nodal officer to come to our village," says H Annapurnama, a villager from Hottebetta in Anantapur. Some of
the projects which were identified in the eighth round of the
programme have not been taken up till today, she says.
Watershed programmes are not new to villages of Andhra
Pradesh. But the Naidu government's plan to focus extensively on watershed development has given many drought-prone
districts such as Mehboobnagar and Anantapur the much-needed boost to work towards meeting water requirements.
The state government has made a four-year (1995-96 to
1998-99) watershed development plan. It has already invested
more than Rs 3,000 crore in 4,239 watershed projects covering
2.1 million hectares (ha) of land. Naidu has sought help
from Anna Hazare, the person behind Ralegan Siddhi's
success. "Some of the watershed projects based on Anna's
methods have helped farmers cultivate two crops a year,"
says R Rajamani, a former bureaucrat.
Groundwater levels in several villages have also gone up.
"Earlier, water was available only at a depth of 18-20 metres.
Now, we get it at six metres," says Harinath Reddy of village
Vanjuvanka in Anantapur. Naidu has sorted out financial
problems. Money is directly given to watershed committees.
The joint Forest Management programme was launched
in Andhra Pradesh nearly five years ago. In 1995, when
Naidu took over as chief minister, there were merely 200 vana
samrakshana sarnithis (VSS). Today, the number has gone up to
6,271 with a total of 1.4 million hectares (ha) of forest land
under the programme.
Government has entrusted the villagers with the task of
regenerating and protecting the forests. The entire timber and
bamboo produce is given to VSS members. According to P Raghuveer, deputy conservator of forests, Andhra Pradesh
Forestry Project, Hyderabad, "The government has allocated
Its 360 crore for the VSS in the current financial year."
vss programmes in the districts of Anantapur, Visakhapatnam, Chittoor and Mehboobnagar have shown remarkable
results. In Anantapur, there are 95 VSS, managing 22,319 ha of
forest area. Within two years of adopting the programme,
the availability of fuel and fodder has also increased and has
provided employment to many poor people.
"Villagers feel responsible for protecting the forest," says
Kallol Biswas, Anantapur forest officer. This could be because
"for the first time, we have got a chance to get 100 per cent profits from protecting the forests", says Dase Goud
from Hottebetta, Anantapur, who has been instrumental in
the formation of a VSS in his village.