Hyderabad: Former RBI Governor Dr. Y.V. Reddy said on Sunday that the word ‘Centre’ was a misnomer as it was not part of the Constitution. Mr Reddy was speaking at Manthan Samvaad. He said that ‘Centre’ had no place in the Indian system because the country had emerged from British Rule as a federation.
He said that relations between the states and the Centre — represented by the Union of India — had never been smooth as the states were reluctant to accept the ‘Centre’ as a powerful reality.
Mr Reddy then recalled his stint in erstwhile AP, while working for the late N.T. Rama Rao, who said that the Centre is a perpetual myth and not a political reality. This belief, according to Mr Reddy, allowed Rao to take on the might of Indira Gandhi and later, Rajiv Gandhi. Despite such indifferent chief ministers, Dr Reddy said India continues to manage complex diversities successfully whereas Europe and Britain struggle.
Dr Reddy gave examples of how equations had evolved between the Centre and State. “We have come a long way since the Gadgil formula. Today, we have chief ministers who talk like prime ministers, by setting up their states as examples of model governance. So, we have the Bihar model, Gujarat model, the Tamil Nadu model and the Telangana model,” he added.
He also said the purpose of the 14th Finance Commission is now “dead” after the introduction of the GST law. “Our job is to make everybody equally unhappy,” he said.
Mr Reddy added that revenue-surplus states such as Telangana were happy but states such as AP and TN were unhappy – AP especially, as it had lost revenue from Hyderabad. About the state’s request for a Special Status, Dr Reddy said there ought to be a formula for it but the Finance Commission is no place for special category discussions.
GST law, however, he said was the most challenging dynamic to the Centre-State relations. “For the first time, we have a tax regime which intersects the centre-state equation.” What the Finance Commission faces every five years, he said the GST council has to every year. In the short-term, there will be losers and gainers but in the long-run, everybody wins, he said.
New wave all about connecting people: Manoj Saxena
There is a huge future for Artificial Intelligence which will make the impact of internet look small, said venture capitalist and machine learning expert, Manoj Saxena. Mr Saxena gave his audience a panoramic preview of our future — in which machines that were learning like human beings sparked layoffs on an unprecedented scale.
This new wave was all about connecting people and machines and he said it is likely that unlike the earlier era, in which many low-value jobs were displaced, automation in robots would go after high-value, high-cost jobs.
“Uber, Netflix, Airbnb, Facebook and WhatsApp are doing what car companies, cinema chains, newspapers and telecom networks failed to do for decades. Facebook created no content but it is more valuable than newspapers, Netflix owns no cinemas but has higher valuation than cinema houses and similarly, WhatsApp has more users and value in five years than what Vodafone could create in 22 years,” he said.
Need for varsity, not the building: Pramath Raj Sinha
“In India, we are obsessed with university buildings rather than building universities”, said Pramath Raj Sinha, founder of Ashoka University, Delhi, as he opened his talk at Manthan Samvaad on Sunday.
Mr Sinha said the gross enrolment ratio in higher education in India remains under 20 per cent which meant only one in five students would ever go to a college. “University education is therefore, very elitist and for the privileged,” he said.
Claiming that the entire system of university education was not preparing students to face the future, he said there had to be a shift from giving the right answers to asking the right questions.
“Students have to move away from rote-based learning and marks-oriented assessment. Instead of asking which course they should enrol, the students need to understand an array of multiple subjects with enough breadth and length to solve problems of the 21st century,” he said.
Mr Sinha said reading, writing and reasoning were more important for which centres of higher learning must separate teaching from research and build the right kind of governance, independent of grants from private businesses....