Opinion

Uttar Pradesh remains backward as ever

M RAMESH | Updated on January 12, 2018

up-dossier

The State’s performance in parameters such as crime control, employment generation, farm output show no progress

Most believe that the leadership displayed by the educated and urbane Akhilesh Yadav is a clear departure from the caste-based poverty-politics so common in the Indo-Gangetic plain. Akhilesh’s development-centricity is believed to have endeared him to the masses so much so that even as an incumbent he stands a fair chance to win a second term.

However, statistics show that the performance of the 43-year-old chief minister over the past five years is not so great. Numbers suggest that nothing has changed in UPsince the Yadav scion took over the reins in March 2012.

With 200 million people, UP is the most populous State in India, and if it were a separate country, it would rank, globally, fifth in population.

Look at it from any parameter — crime, industry, agriculture, fiscal management: the State still stands where it stood in 2012. For example, UP continues to be the most crime-ridden region in the country.

Criminal State

A look at National Crime Records Bureau data shows that UP sees the most number of murders among Indian States — over 4,000 murders a year. That’s a record that has not changed even during Akhilesh’s term. Neighbouring Bihar comes a distant second with 3,178 murders and 5,981 murder attempts in 2015.

Every type of criminal activity — rape, kidnapping, robbery, riot, arson — is on the rise in UP, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the government has not been able to get a grip over crime. Nor is it merely a function of population — UP does not have more crime only because it has more people. The crime rate, defined as instances of crime per one lakh population, has also gone up — from 96.4 in 2012 to 112.1 in 2015.

For sure, UP is not the only State where crime has gone up. But it’s where a type of crime is either the highest in the country, or has risen the fastest over five years. For example, the number of kidnapping cases rose steeply in Maharashtra, from 1,583 in 2012 to 8,255 in 2015, to rank second on this count, but the State is far below UP’s 11,999 cases.

Rape cases in Madhya Pradesh (4,391), Maharashtra (4,144) and Rajasthan (3,644) were higher than in UP in 2015, but Akhilesh’s State has seen the second highest rise, next only to Gujarat (473 to 2,108, in 2012-2015).

If that’s the crime scene, things aren’t rosier in economic growth. UP’s rank, as second last, after Bihar, has not improved at all between 2011-12 and 2015-16, in terms of nominal net per capita income.

In the case of UP, it rose from ₹32,002 to ₹48,520, or 52 per cent. Even Bihar grew 57 per cent to ₹34,168. To put this in perspective, other States grew much faster — Karnataka 65 per cent, MP 69 per cent. States that grew slower than UP (AP 47 per cent, Odisha 42 per cent) did so on much higher base.

The plebeian growth in incomes is a natural state of UP’s economy which refuses to move forward with mulish obstinacy. Data provided by the RBI shows that agriculture has seen no remarkable improvement, with the rise in sugarcane production counterbalanced by a fall in that of foodgrain and oil seeds.

Nor has industry grown — not enough money has been invested in capital, and as a consequence, the build-up of capital stock, or big machines, transportation equipment and factories, has not grown enough. Little wonder that unemployment continues to be high in the State.

Doesn’t mean business

Listlessness in agriculture and industry shows in the employment numbers. UP ranks high in unemployment rate, going by the numbers given by the Fifth Employment-Unemployment Survey, 2015-16.

Even more worrying is female participation in the labour force in UP — it’s pretty bad, at 11.2 per cent. Only Haryana (14.5 per cent) and Bihar (14.2 per cent) were higher. Further, the survey reveals that UP is the State with the third most number of households with average monthly income less than ₹5,000, after Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.

UP has also performed poorly in implementing reforms that would make doing business in the State easier.

According to data provided by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, UP slipped to the 14th position in rankings among States in 2016, from 10th the previous year; other States have progressed faster.

So, what has Akhilesh got to show for his work? Perhaps his five years would have an impact on slow-moving variables such as literacy, infant mortality rate, birth and death rates, data for which is insufficient. (The National Family Health Survey is the most referred to for these details, but unfortunately the survey of 2015-16 does not include UP.)

There is reason for optimism here, though. UP has spent more on the social sector than any other State — its expenditure on this count nearly doubled to ₹1.16 lakh crore in the last five years, and is the highest for all States.

Only when the latest figures are known would it be possible to judge how effectively Akhilesh’s government has spent this money.

Published on February 09, 2017

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