B S Raghavan

More on Vision 2023 for Tamil Nadu

B.S.RAGHAVAN | Updated on November 14, 2017 Published on March 27, 2012

In continuation of my previous column on the same topic published in this paper on March 26, I wish to caution the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms J.Jayalalithaa, about certain factors that will act as brakes in translating Vision 2023 into action.

Astute and perceptive that she is, she will not want to rouse expectations only to see them evaporate. This will only add grist to the mills of political opponents who have dubbed the release of the Vision document as a gimmick.

The first and foremost of such brakes is the woodenness and lethargy of the Tamil Nadu administration. Having a comparative idea of the functioning of State Governments all over India, I can say that the days when Tamil Nadu could call itself one of the best-run States are long past. The accumulated garbage, potholes on the roads and freely roaming stray cattle are proof enough of administrative apathy.

Transparency International has ranked Tamil Nadu second in corruption among Indian States (Kerala and West Bengal being the two least corrupt States). If Tamil Nadu still manages to retain a semblance of standards, it is on the strength of the momentum built up till around the mid-1960s.

TWO-PRONGED STRATEGY

Breathing new life into the administration for the purpose of speedy implementation is not a mere matter of adding to the existing jungle of bureaucratic structures. It is a question of appraising the performance of functionaries in charge of Departments against the most stringent criteria of accountability, and getting rid of those who do not shape up.

Absent the will to do so, the Tamil Nadu Infrastructure Development Board announced in the Budget, even if it functions under the CM's chairmanship, as has been envisaged, will only turn out to be as ineffective and undependable as most of the already existing structures.

For making headway with Vision 2023, therefore, it becomes imperative to adopt a two-pronged strategy. The first is the lateral induction on contract of persons of high professional competence who have reputedly shown results in the tasks entrusted to them, on the analogy of appointment of Mr E.Sridharan for Delhi Metro and Mr Nandan Nilekani for the Aadhaar project. In fact, the staffing of the Infrastructure Development Board (IDB) itself can be on this principle.

The second is to forge a strong and extensive public-private-partnership (PPP) so as to unleash the massive synergy inherent in it. The private sector knows where and how to set matters right, having itself been at the receiving end of vagaries of administration. Hence, the IDB should include representatives of all industry and business federations.

The National Public Private Partnership Policy circulated by the Central Government last year commends PPP as the right execution mode for infrastructural development and sets out the approaches that could yield the maximum dividends.There are the by now familiar user-fee or annuity based build-operate-transfer models, but they do not exhaust the avenues for innovation. There are several other models such as build-own-operate-and-transfer, build-own-and-operate, build-operate-share-transfer and build-own-operate-share-transfer, design-build-finance-maintain-operate-transfer, design-build-finance-operate-transfer and design-build-finance-maintain.

Likewise, contracts too can be made to suit the requirements of the partnership. But the best is one that guarantees performance-based management-cum-maintenance.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

Ms Jayalalithaa's biggest challenge is to make sure that all the groundwork for the implementation of the Vision is laid sometime before the end of 2014 for, thereafter, the election of 2016 will begin casting its shadow and slow down the tempo of activities.

She could consider the setting up of an inter-disciplinary task force with eminent experts from the outside to work out, in concrete terms, the modules, phases and timelines for the smooth implementation of the strategic plan.

Considering the scale and complexity of the plan, the task force may find it useful to hold interactive sessions with the civil society at four or five places in the State to create awareness of the scope and nature of the enterprise and invoke the whole-hearted participation of all sections of the people in making it successful.

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Published on March 27, 2012
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