Work on the second HDI has begun but the state hasn’t done well in core sectors such as health, education, and infant mortality, says Ratnakar Mahajan.
How much has the state progressed since the last HDI report of 2002?
We had given our suggestions for future planning in the Human Development Index (HDI) report of 2002 to enable the District Planning Committees (DPC) and collectors plan the things they wished to improve. However, the state planning has not taken place on these lines. As per the 73rd Amendment Bill in 2003-04, we should have had District Planning Committees for which elections have not been held till date. DPCs have to have between 30 and 50 members as per the population of the district.
Is the state making the required allocations?
The state has allocated sufficient funds but there is no comprehensive planning for the districts. Funds were made available as per the ceiling decided by the state government. Ideal planning and allocating as per the HDI suggestions has not happened. Elected representatives want to do spectacular things in their constituencies to prove they have done something.
Which areas are being neglected?
Literacy, education and health need more push since human development is ignored by our politicians. For example, the literacy campaign is being implemented along with the Continuous Learning Campaign and on central government funds. But these funds are not released on time and the result is a high dropout rate that is increasing all the time.
What is the dropout rate now in the state?
The dropout rate in the fifth standard is 13.50 per cent going up to 22.8 in the eighth and even higher to 52.5 per cent at the tenth standard level. In the tenth grade, 53.59 are SCs and 76.18 are STs. The Nagar district has one of the highest drop out rate at 93 per cent. These are important indicators. State government programmes need better implementation and evaluation on a regular basis.
Are you satisfied with the results?
Fund allocations to the various sectors has not come down. But these funds need to be spent properly The results need to be assessed regularly. We have made suggestions to the government for the last five years as part of policy perspectives.
Does political pressures affect implementation?
These are always there. Having said this, it is true that often the pressures are negative since each elected representative wants to do something outstanding in his own area and this is not always in line with what is ideal.
— Ratnakar Mahajan is the chairman of Maharashtra State Planning Commission. He spoke to Neeta Kolhatkar