As Mr Yediyurappa takes charge as chief minister, a flurry of priorities and ideas are abuzz on what should be the priority of the new government. Looking at present challenges we face and also the impending uncertainties, both local and global, I explore as to what could be the priorities of the new chief minister. While a whole lot of discussion is centred around the trust vote, we should also try and keep the focus on the to-do list for the government.
Sustainable development is a crying need and thinking of not just present challenges, we must be geared to meet future scenarios too if we want to ensure an improved quality of life for our children.
Below are some of the crying needs as we review Karnataka's glorious past and its high standing in our federal cooperative setup.
Setup Metropolitan Planning Committee
MCC must have enough muscle to ensure its decisions are carried through by the different agencies in charge of different functions of the city — BBMP, BMTC, BWSSB etc.
Integrated water management
Ensure an integrated water management approach is taken to different parts of the state and we plan for different scenarios of water availability and make informed choices than react under duress like Chennai.
Bring back Sakala
Bring back Sakala with enough top-quality administrators and ensure timely delivery of services. Lower bureaucracy needs to become citizen-centric and responsive. If more services are brought under Sakala then higher bureaucracy functioning can be streamlined too.
Decentralised growth of Tier 2 and 3 towns and cities are a must for Karnataka. We must usher in the next set of development benefits back into smaller cities. Hubballi, Dharwad, Mangaluru, Tumakuru and Belgaum must become role models of planned development and learn from Bengaluru’s growth troubles.
Empower the mayor of Bengaluru and ensure better functioning of ward committees and provide a chance for the 74th Amendment to benefit Bengaluru too.
Encouraging better coordination with industries and businesses
Higher education advantage that Karnataka has in engineering, management, design and other allied streams must be strengthened by encouraging better coordination with industries and businesses. The focus should be on playing an enabler and for Karnataka to be seen as a hub for great talent.
Higher medical education needs
Higher medical education needs to be strengthened and like in engineering, the state should engage with the Centre to come up with long-term plans to increase MBBS seats and further specialisations. India suffers inordinately due to shortage of doctors and we have missed a generation by keeping the medical seats in short supply.
Environmental degradation is affecting all of us and most importantly the poor suffer the most due to the vagaries of climate change. The lush and abundant forests in Karnataka need to be protected and nurtured and not be made a sacrificial lamb for mindless developmental projects. Illegal mining in forest areas must be clamped down immediately. A transparent dialogue must ensue on the pros and cons of a large project and environmental impact assessment should stop being a minor procedure as it has been reduced to now.
Transparency in government functioning has taken a beating over the years and state governments. The RTI Act must be implemented well with proactive disclosures. We need information commissioners who make sure the bureaucracy implements the RTI Act in letter and spirit and not play hoodwink under largely illegal pretexts.
Rule of law must prevail
The rule of law must prevail and the state government must look at letting go of archaic laws and ensure simplification of existing laws and procedures. If we do not want our eminence as a role model state since Independence in striving for inclusive growth to be erased, we need to provide an enabling environment for our youth and future generations to realise their dreams being confident of a government that is an Enabler rather than a disabler of their future.
—The author is Chief Enabler, Centre for Inclusive Governance...