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Once a 'bimaru', MP set to drive India growth story

R K Ray, INCLUSION

Even a decade back, Madhya Pradesh was counted as one of the backward or "bimaru" states along with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. But Shivraj Singh Chouhan seems to turn the disadvantage in opportunity -- MP now ranks among fastest growing states and may be a trendsetter for social and inclusive development.

Call it Chauhan's modesty or ill fate, MP remained shrouded under a veil when it came to showcasing itself while economically stronger ones such as Gujarat and Maharashtra hogged all the limelight. But MP's time has come and as Prime Minister Narendra Modi exuded confidence saying “Madhya Pradesh will become the main driving force behind India’s growth story”.

It may not be an exaggeration to state here that MP's rise has not gone totally unnoticed. The Skoch Group has recently awarded MP along with Gujarat for being the best states when it came to governance. Not many people will know, MP was the one which successfully converged government doles and implemented the direct cash transfers while ensuring financial inclusion through a single social security-cum-debit card -- a model worth replicating in the rest of India. Not surprising, MP came up for accolade from none other than Modi for activism in facilitating the ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana’ (PMJDY). Madhya Pradesh has been at the forefront of implementing the Jan Dhan Yojana scheme by opening around 36 lakh accounts within a month.

And now, the state is out to woo global and domestic investors. Leveraging Modi's global campaign of making India a manufacturing hub, Chouhan urged leading industrialists to "Make in India, Make in Madhya Pradesh". Terming his state as the ideal state for investment, with an abundance of resources and skilled manpower, the chief minister outlandishly vowed to match up to investors' expectations. MP not just recorded seven years of double-digit growth, but has also ensured available land bank and power sufficiency for businesses. And it’s not just manufacturing, Chouhan vows to make MP the next IT hub of India. The state has already launched two hardware technology parks in the state.

Quick to respond to centre's policy initiative of raising FDI limit in defence to 49 per cent, MP became the first state to put in place a defence manufacturing policy. This is a significant step towards centre-state alliance that will help create self-sufficiency in defence. Such initiatives came up for accolades from Modi who aptly highlighted the need for Centre and states to work hand-in-hand to synergise each other’s strengths. “The Centre and the state must be supplementary to each other. This would boost our quest for growth. Mathematically, one plus one is equal to two, but I visualise a model wherein the centre and the state work side-by-side. This means it isn’t 2 entities working together but them coming together like the number 11, which is greater than 2,” he stated.

The message from Modi is loud and clear -- while Centre frames the broader macro policies, states must take the initiative of coming up with enabling policies that will help implement those policies. Here, MP has emerged as a trendsetter.

(R K Ray can be reached at raj@skoch.in)

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