By Oken Jeet Sandham
Ever since the TR Zeliang government came in a little over one month back, the overall administration and political environment continues to remain still unpredictable. No major programs and policies are initiated and the state government machineries are still visibly weak. Things are increasingly complex day by day and looking at the whole scenario, it appears that chief minister TR Zeliang is being bogged down and helpless in bridling his “jumbo size ministry.”
For the first time after becoming the chief minister of Nagaland, he admitted state’s pathetic financial position during the joint meeting of council of ministers, AHODs, HODs, on June 17 at secretariat conference hall, Kohima. Then after few days, he had given a statement to the press mentioning state’s estimated deficit at the tune of over Rs 1200 crore. This is not everything for the financial woes of the state, the loans taken by the state since 2003 to 2013 is Rs 5972.93 crore which in fact has exceeded the permitted limits of taking loans by the state. Although his remark that further appointment should be stopped was heard, it is extremely doubtful that such step would work.
It is true that then NDA prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had shown extra-ordinary care and concern for then Neiphiu Rio’s 1stDAN government which was, in fact, fortunate enough that it had not only got Rs 365 crore as one time grant to wipe out state’s accumulated deficit but also received another huge economic package of Rs 1053 crore. But such sops from the Vajpayee government in 2003 did not stop the Rio ministry from taking loans as stated above. However, one should not forget that then Rio’s 1st DAN government had enjoyed that entire unprecedented economic grant and package from then Vajpayee government was only because seven BJP MLAs were there in the ministry. In the 1st DAN government, the BJP was the second largest party with seven MLAs while NPF with nineteen MLAs.
The DAN-I government after enjoying all these economic facilities from then Vajpayee government had to continue for the next 10 years with the next Congress-led UPA governments at the Center. During this period, the Annual Plan Size of the state kept increasing till such time the state had to experience negative Plan Size in 2013. Only after this expected trend, state government started narrating different stories that the Center had done away with the funding pattern which it enjoyed till 1989. This is the same story Dr SC Jamir as chief minister used to tell us demanding the Center to revert back to the pre-1989 funding pattern.
The economic growth pushes nation’s wealth and also enhances its potential for reducing poverty and solving other social problems. However, such trend failed to make the human development progressed. Instead such economic growth was achieved at the cost of greater inequity, higher unemployment, weakened democracy, loss of cultural identity, or overconsumption of resources needed by future generations. As the links between economic growth and social and environmental issues are better understood, experts including economists tend to agree that this kind of growth is inevitably unsustainable—that is, it cannot continue along the same line for long, stated a recent document of the United Nations.
The United Nations explains that it is not difficult to point out which country is richer and which one is poorer. But indicators of wealth, which reflect the quantity of resources available to a society, provide no information about the allocation of those resources—for instance, about more or less equitable distribution of income among social groups, about the shares of resources used to provide free health and education services, and about the effects of production and consumption on people’s environment. Thus it is no wonder that states with similar average incomes can differ substantially when it comes to people’s quality of life: access to education and health care, employment opportunities, availability of clean air and safe drinking water, the threat of crime, and so on.
To be sustainable, economic growth must be constantly nourished by the fruits of human development such as improvements in workers’ knowledge and skills along with opportunities for their efficient use: more and better jobs, better conditions for new businesses to grow, and greater democracy at all levels of decision making.
Looking at the present state of affairs in Nagaland, the chief minister will have a very unpredictable journey and of course, one can’t blame him as he inherits the state of affairs. Yet he as chief minister is accountable to the state and one wonders how he is going to develop the state when he literally has nothing at hand.
On the other hand, we can still see the complaints and disappointments from the ruling NPF over the distribution of portfolios. Some legislators appointed as chairmen of various boards with Cabinet status do not have their offices as yet due to “jumbo size ministry.” Even some former ministers are still occupying ministerial bungalows which have already been allotted to new parliamentary secretary. Some parliamentary secretaries are still using their Boleros allotted by Assembly Secretariat.
Ironically, the initial jubilation that the powerful BJP-led NDA government at the Center will rescue the trouble-torn and cash-starved TR government in the state is fast dwindling. At the same time, after carefully studying the start-off of the Narendra Modi government at the Center, the scene becomes crystal clear that no bounty is likely to come hastily to the ever fragile TR government in Nagaland.
However, the recent merger of three NCP MLAs with the BJP in Nagaland has given some breather in the minds of the general publics for the fact that the Center is currently ruled by the BJP-led NDA. This masterstroke by the three NCP MLAs smacked other political detractors in the state as the move came at a time when the Center is ruled by the BJP-led NDA. However, it is still doubtful that the Center will come forward to lend their ears to the financial quagmire of the NPF-led DAN government.
Nagaland is a small state that depends for everything on the Center. The only way to convince the Central leadership is Zeliang has to start exercising frugality in his government and show some positive result on the ground. He also should ponder over his “jumbo size ministry” which simply defeats his point of argument seeking any kind of financial grant from the Center. He should exercise some kind of visible curtail of his jumbo size ministry, though they may be hard exercise. Then only will the Central government start contemplating to work out a grant for the state.