Sunday, February 12, 2006
Why is Orissa among the bottom in per capita HRD-NH spending by the central govt?
Why are we not doing anything about it?
What should we do about it?
Chitta Baral, Professor, Arizona State University
Dear honorable Chief Minister, MPs and other political leaders of Orissa
First I must commend all of you for the job all of you have done and are doing in watching like a hawk the railway budgets, Orissa's share of the national highways and the road budget. It was not long ago when Orissa had only about 1200 kms of national highways. In 2000 Orissa had 2863 kms of national highways and in 2004 it had 3704 kms. Since then Orissa has made its case for a 2000 km NH fromVijaywada to Ranchi, about 1200 kms of which will be passing through tribal dominated districts of Orissa. With respect to railways, allof you played a big role in establishing the ECOR head quarter inBhubaneswar. In recent years, in every railway budget session in the parliament, MPs from Orissa, regardless of their parties have been vocal about Orissa's needs and wants. As a result, things are a lot better now. For example, there are now direct trains fromBhubaneswar to many corners of India such as Jaipur, Haridwar, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Bangalore, etc. besides multiple trains to the metros. There is still a long way to go in both roads and railways but you all are pursuing that relentlessly.
However, all of you and us citizens too have paid much less attention to the development of the most important resource of a state, the human resource. As in roads, we have national highways, state highways, gram sadaks etc., similarly in HRD there are many kinds of institutions. The HRD national highways consists of the educational and technical institutions fully funded by the HRDministry and the institutions of national importance.
As in roads the national highways have a big significance; similarly in case of HRD, the HRD-NHs are very important. In this, Orissa is among the bottom, as it does not have any central university, anyIIT, IIM, IIIT, etc.
A detailed calculation that I have done, which is at http://www.equitableindia.org/, shows that while the central government spends Rs 4.07 on HRD-NH (per person) in Orissa, it spends Rs 177.12 in Delhi, Rs 105.42 in Uttaranchal, Rs 105 in Arunachal Pradesh, Rs 77.7 in Assam, Rs 33.78 in Himachal Pradesh, Rs 28.10 in West Bengal, Rs 25.12 in Karnataka, Rs 17.79 in TamilNadu, Rs 17.09 in Maharastra, Rs 17.08 in UP, Rs 16.2 in Jharkhand, Rs 16.05 in Andhra, Rs 14.5 in J & K, Rs 13.38 in Punjab, Rs 8.52 in Haryana, Rs 7.9 in Kerala, Rs 7.39 in Chhattisgarh, Rs 7.2 in MP,Rs 4.87 in Gujurat, Rs 2.59 in Rajasthan, and Rs 1.87 in Bihar.
Comparing in another way, the Government of India’s spending per person with respect to HRD-NHs, in comparison to Orissa, is 6.9times in West Bengal, 6.17 times in Karnataka, 4.37 times in Tamil Nadu, 4.2 times in UP, 4.2 times in Maharashtra, 3.98 times inJharkhand, 3.94 times in AP, 3.56 times in J&K, 3.29 times inPunjab, 2.09 times in Haryana, 1.94 times in Kerala, 1.82 times in Chhattisgarh, 1.77 times in MP, and 1.2 times in Gujarat.
This becomes much worse if one takes into account the recent announcements of IISERs (Indian Institute of Science education andresearch) in Pune, Kolkata, and Punjab (near Chandigarh).
Although recently all of us have come together and have made demands about the earlier announced National Institute of Sciences in Bhubaneswar, the central government has so far not only ignored our request but have added insult to our injury by making false claims that no such institute was decided in Orissa and by announcing a new IISER in yet another state ruled or allied with the central government. (One wonders if the president of India's, the HRDminister's, and the UGC chairman's announcement regarding an NIS is not a decision to establish an NIS then what is?)
The above numbers illustrates that the issue of HRD-NHs runs much deeper than NIS and Orissa is in the bottom because of repeated injustices like the NIS issue. If the central govt spends 43.52 times in Delhi, 19.1 times in Assam, 6.9 times in West Bengal, 6.17 times in Karnataka, 4.37 times in Tamil Nadu, 4.2 times in UP, and 4.2 times in Maharashtra, no wonder our very best go to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune, Chennai or Guwahati to study in the HRD-NHs, from where they rarely return back. Due to lack of theHRD-NHS our best educators, scientists, professors, etc. move to other states and enrich them. We also lose out on non-polluting industries and companies with lot of high paying jobs, that prefer and thrive in the presence of HRD-NHs; and with that we lose a big chunk of our bright people who move to join those industries in Bangalore or Delhi. In other words the central government's gross neglect of Orissa with respect to HRD-NHs has contributed significantly to Orissa's backwardness.
(a) Why are we we not vocal about this?
(b) Will we tolerate if we our told that, oh, you Oriyas, if you need to drive on a national highway, you need to go to Kolkata or Mumbai. If you want to to stay in Orissa then you have to drive in broken gram sadaks. Of course we will not. But that is what the central government is indirectly telling us by spending 6.9 times in West Bengal, 6.17 times in Karnataka, etc. and not listening to our requests. Why and how are we tolerating this?
(c) Why our chief minister, our MPs, our congress leadership are not going to the prime minister, HRD minister and the planningcommission and making a national issue out of this?
(d) Why are not they bringing up this issue in various national forums?
(e) Why are not they writing about this in various national newspapers and magazines?
(f) Why are not they appealing to all of India about this gross injustice that has been (for last 50 years) and is being done to Orissa?
(g) Why are we not point out to the esteemed prime minister that there is a big discrepancy between his words (about making anequitable India) and his actions (the IISER announcements that makethe HRD-NH disparity much worse)?
I request the chief minister, the MPs and the congress leadership to unite for the above cause (like they do when making requests aboutrailways) and use the detailed document at http://www.equitableindia.org/ that computes the above numbers and the booklet that compiles the proofs regarding the announcement ofan NIS in Bhuabneswar (and the subsequent attempts to cheat Orissaout of it) at http://www.baral.us/nis3.pdf in doing the following.
(i) Doing whatever is necessary (including steps that address a-g above) for immediately establishing an IISER (the renamed NIS) inBhubaneswar.
(ii) Contacting the new IIT committee and others (the PM, HRDminister etc.) about upgrading NIT Rourkela to an IIT or deemed IITstatus, as NIT Rourkela is ranked better than 6 of the 7 shortlisted institutes that are being considered for deemed IIT or IIT status; and subsequently making UCE Burla an NIT. (This raises thequestion regarding how 6 institutes that are ranked worse than NITRourkela are short listed ahead of NIT Rourkela for an IIT status.Why are we not questioning such stupid decisions?)
(iii) Pursue establishment of a KBK Central university with campuses in various towns of KBK such as Koraput, Raygada, Bhawanipatna, and Balangir, so that KBK has more educators, doctors, etc. and so that skilled and educated people are attracted to KBK rather than the current situation where people posted to KBK try all kinds of things to not go to KBK. (Such steps has worked wonders in the north east. Many highly qualified people have flocked to join the central universities in the North east.)
(iv) Pursue upgradation of the IIT Kharagpur extension center in Bhubaneswar to an independent campus offering undergraduate and graduate degrees.
(v) Contact the IIMs to open a branch in South Orissa (sayBerhempur), North Orissa (say Balasore or Baripada), or Dhenkanal(near IIMC). If IIM Bangalore can plan to have a center in Singapore, why can not one of the IIMs establish a center in Orissa.
A nonpartisan committee should be immediately made to keep track ofthe progress with respect to (i)-(v) and the planned AIIMs-like institute, National Law School, and health university. Only after we succeed in all of the above, and continue having more locally initiated educational institutes, Orissa will become a destinationfor not only tourists, but for young Oriyas and Indians with dreams. In addition, the above steps will distribute the HRD-NHs across Orissa thus making Orissa more balanced.
Finally, while we sort out the Kalinganagar issue and develop a consensus with our tribal brothers and sisters with respect to Orissa's industrial future, we should not forget our fight against the NIS/IISER injustice. We got to continue that fight until we getour IISER and then follow it up with a long range plane to achieve parity with other states with respect to the above mentioned HRD-NH related goals.