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Mudda panellists feel NITI Ayog CEO Amitabh Kant’s statement regarding regional development might be true, but presentation and choice of venue for making the statement is objectionable

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant has said that states in India’s southern and western region were growing rapidly, but those like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan were keeping the country backward, especially on social indicators. APN’s popular debate Muddadiscussed the issue. Anchorperson Anant posed the questions to panelists including the BJP’s Anand Sahu, Congress’s Ajay Verma, political expert Atul Chandra, former IPS SK Sharma, economist JD Aggarwal, and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Raju said: “The ground reality is one issue, but Niti Ayog CEO has a huge responsibility to focus on overall development. He was talking at a Jamia Milia conference. I am amazed at his statement. How is Rajasthan an eastern state? Does Amitabh Kank know what he is talking about? It’s an irresponsible statement. It would have been better if he had stated what Niti Ayog is planning ahead.”

Sahu said: “I fully agree with Raju. Kant should have focussed on the implementation of the development works and the challenges around that. In the agriculture sector, Chhattisgarh has made a lot of progress. Similarly, literacy rate in UP has gone up, and a lot of progress can be seen in Bihar as well. “

Sharma said: “It’s a vague, absurd and a sweeping statement. It doesn’t convey any message and doesn’t befit Kant’s position. It is the duty of NITI Ayog to look at regional imbalances.”

Verma said: “Kant is an extremely knowledgeable bureaucrat. His statement makes it clear that the reality and position of the government are at variance. The government has failed on all fronts. It has become a ‘rapist government’. They are making empty promises. It is failing daily on security parameters, rapes are increasing, and many other social parameters are down. “

Aggarwal said: “Kant’s statement should make us all look at the development scenario. India is falling on the social development indicators. We are at the 138th position in the human development index (HDI). Growth should be looked at seriously now. Let’s not look at Kant’s choice of timing and platform.”

Chandra said: “I don’t think Kant’s statement is objectionable. Where is the development roadmap? India’s ranking is going down on HDI. UP’s school dropout rate is so low that it is still at the eighth position on the literacy charts.”

Anant wanted to know why the BIMARU states, that have the highest number of Lok Sabha seats, continue to languish on the development parameters.

Raju said: “The fact that UP has a long road ahead is common knowledge. If today’s situation is still bad, we need to discuss. Development has to be seen in the political context as well. Kant’s statement only helps to create a divide in the country.”

Sharma said: “I have no question on the contents or the substance of the statement. I am unhappy with the way the statement has been made. It creates a feeling of animosity. It stokes divisive forces in the country.”

Verma said: “Lot of statements and cross-statements are made on Twitter and Facebook. NITI Ayog is a responsible organization. If Kant is feeling like that, we need to look into the contents of the statement rather than focus on the presentation of it.”

Sharma said: ”By saying that certain states are backward is not good enough. There should a formula to move ahead. These kind of statements are not constructive at all.”

Aggarwal said: ”Ease of doing business should improve in states that are lagging behind.”

Verma said:”There is a huge gap in promises and reality of this government.”

—Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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