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Finance Commission and Telugu Signature

14-09-2014

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I was in Tirupati the other day.

Our government met the 14th Finance Commission.  Chief Minister Sri Chandrababu Naidu had made a compelling presentation to the Commission. He told the Commission that Andhra Pradesh needed to be treated on a completely different basis. The situation of AP is not comparable to any other state. He argued that the way bifurcation of the state was done by the UPA 2 was unscientific and the Act was put together without consulting the major stakeholders. Consequently, he argued, the mother state of Andhra Pradesh was left without a capital, lost all major institutions that were painstakingly built over the last six decades with the collective effort of people from all regions of the state. He told the Commission that the mother state of Andhra Pradesh was denied level playing field. He also brought to the notice of the Commission that assets and liabilities were divided between the successor states in a lopsided manner: assets were distributed on the basis of location while liabilities were divided according to the ratio of population.

The Chief Minister pleaded for generous support from the Finance Commission and assured it that the state would be in a position to contribute massively to the national economy after overcoming the initial difficulties.

The Government had raised some important issues with the Commission regarding the sharing of tax and non-tax revenues between the States and the Centre. It argued that the share should be 50:50. The Government also argued that the weightage for population should be 30 and the basis should be 1971 census. This, it argued, would encourage those states that achieved population stabilisation. The essential argument was that performance of states in ares such as resource mobilisation, fiscal efficiency, population stabilisation should not be penalised.

The Commission was evidently impressed by the eloquent presentation of the CM and by the vision that he unveiled for the state. The homework done by the Finance department was commendable, the Commission said. Commission’s Chairman Dr YV Reddy and member after member complimented the CM for what he achieved during his last tenure and expressed hope that he would be able to take AP forward. They said that his agenda and vision for the state’s future were remarkable for their clarity.

I feel that the Commission would not only recommend a good package for the state but also takes into account Andhra Pradesh’s views on the need to redefine the financial relations between the Centre and the States in a more fundamental way.

I must also report another incident.

Before I checked out of the hotel on that night, I went down to the restaurant and had dinner. After dinner I signed the bill, wrote down my room number and gave it to the lady who brought it to me. She looked at it and told me that I should sign it and not write something in Telugu. I told her that that was my signature and it was not something that I wrote in Telugu. She asked me how could a signature be in Telugu and especially of an ‘educated’ person like me.

I told her that it was my practice to sign in Telugu and I felt proud to do it.

The lady looked unconvinced.

She had started me thinking. In a way the lady told me that we not only have a lot of work in building our state’s economy, but our challenge is also in the culture and language domains. This challenge is equally daunting.

This is a bonus take away for me from my Tirupati trip.

 

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