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Public OR Private OR Public-Private

In his address to the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the country’s independence on Wednesday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a massive expansion in public spending targeting education, health care, agriculture and rural development. The proposals include amongst other things  a Rs 25,000-crore investment package for the agricultural sector, helping states to set up colleges in 370 districts and also open 30 new Central Universities, five new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, eight new IITs, seven new IIMs and 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology,  1,600 new industrial training institutes and polytechnics, 10,000 new vocational schools and 50,000 new skill development centre, 6,000 new government-funded schools an old age pension scheme for senior citizens above 65 years and below the poverty line. Besides life and disability cover, there would be a new health insurance scheme for the poor.

Conspicuous in their absence were any references to the Indo-US Nuclear deal or Pakistan.

The Business Standard in one of the first reactions to the speech called it the “Right Occassion Wrong Speech” with this to say of his announcement

 the government will henceforth focus its admittedly feeble energies on public goods instead of trying to produce what ought to be strictly private goods….

With the massive boost in public spending the Prime Minister revealed what is beginning to look like the Congress Manifesto for the next elections whenever they may come. Meanwhile a different mantra was being chanted in Gujarat where elections are around the corner.

At the inauguration of the new general aviation airport at Mehsana, Chief Minister Narendra Modi said

Public-private partnerships are paving the roadmap of development in Gujarat

Modi was speaking at the inaugration of a General Aviation Airport in Mehsana. Modi’s public private venture in Aviation follows similar recent moves in Healthcare including an Institute of Public Health.  The state’s first ever emergency services under a single toll free number 108 is all set to take off from August 29. In Gujarat, the 108 services, in the first phase, will cover the Municipal Corporations and National Highways. In the second phase, it will be extended to rural areas. The State government has allotted 10 acres of land to the EMRI in Kathwada to set up an institute for research on emergency services. The state government is also further providing 25 crore from the National Health Mission to EMRI for bolstering emergency services.

Another example of Public-Private partnership was in the area of Town Planning which was different from the path of `direct acquisition of lands’ from farmers followed by all other states in the country. direct acquisition is a time-consuming process and takes around two to four years to complete, resulting into encroachment of about 30 to 40 per cent of the land sought to be acquired. The mechanism followed by Gujarat is a fast procedure, with no scope of encroachment of land in the TP scheme area. The land under the scheme here is not `acquired’ but `pooled’ from owners. Out of the `pooled land’, 40 per cent of the land is used for development of infrastructure by the urban development agency and remaining 60 per cent is left with the farmers who sell it directly to anybody and at whatever prices or may develop it themselves.

 Coming back to the Great Manmohan expansion, the Business Standard poses the question

what about the infirmities of the delivery systems?

be it teachers for the massive expansion in public education or labor reforms to boost industrialization.

Offstumped Poser for the day: 

What is the right model for development ?

Public, Private or Public-Private

If conventional wisdom says an election bound government is likely to be populist in its model of development, think again, states like Gujarat are acting contrarian


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