By J.V. Lakshmana Rao
Chicago: If India’s BJP-ruled Gujarat has achieved international recognition as a progressive state of India, another BJP-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh is not far behind to get such recognition.
Speaking at a warm reception jointly hosted to him by Friends of India Society International (FISI) and Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party (OFBJP) at India House in Schaumburg, on October 6, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who was touring the US, said that progressive programs implemented by his government were showing tremendous results. The state had taken up several welfare programs for the benefit of poor and common people, including women and children.
He said the state had increased its annual budget to Rs. 80,030.98 crore, which was three times more than what it was when he took over as the Chief Minister. This was made possible even without increasing taxes because all leakages and wastages had been successfully plugged, he added.
On agriculture front, he said that the state, which employed more than 67 percent of its population, had brought 22,00,000 acres under cultivation, which was only 7,00,000 acres when he assumed office. The GDP of agriculture had now reached 18 percent, which was the highest in the country. To benefit the farmers and forest tribals, the government was now purchasing their produce directly from them with a fair return for them, avoiding middlemen. The farmers and contractors were paid their dues on a regular basis on a set date, so that they would not starve for funds.
The overall growth rate (GDP) of the state, which was about 10.6 percent some time ago, had now almost peaked to 11.9 percent, which was very close to the targeted growth rate of 12 percent. “We are confident of hitting our target and surpassing it very soon,” he said.
Regarding welfare measures, he said his top priority was to arrest the female feticide and take care of pregnant women in particular and women in general. Under his “Save girl child” program, the health of pregnant women was taken care of giving them free medical aid. He said: “When a girl child is born the state buys a national savings certificate worth Rs. 30,000 for her. When the girl goes to school, she is given Rs. 2,000, Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 7,500 progressively till her class 11. Each girl, who has to go to neighboring towns for schooling, also gets a bicycle. The girls are given free books and study material. When a girl reaches 18 years, the parents are free to redeem the National Savings Certificate, which will be slightly less than Rs. 1,00,000. But if the certificate is redeemed when a girl reaches 21 years, the amount will be more than Rs. 1,00,000.”
Under the Kanyadhan Yojna, he said the state would also give Rs. 7,500 for poor families during a girl’s marriage. Similarly under the Janani Suraksha Yojna, the state would provide all economic and health support to a pregnant woman till the time of delivery.
He said that the parents, who would not have male children and have only girl children, would be given regular sustenance pension during their old age.
He said under a special scheme, tribals were being given the ownership of the land that they were cultivating. To arrest migration from villages and forest areas to towns and cities, the government was providing medical facilities through mobile medical vans to the rural and tribal population.
Since the state was adding a population equivalent to that of Australia every 10 years, he said it had to develop its own infrastructure facilities. “The state has now the best highway network. It is also our endeavor to guarantee uninterrupted 24/7 power supply to industries and extend electricity even to all villages in the next two or three years. To help the investors and start projects, we have already set aside vast industrial areas, we have real single window system to clear all industrial and investment projects. You come with a project and investment, I am there to help you and make your project a reality soon. I’m the single window in real sense. I meet industrialists on every Monday and solve most of their problems then and there only. Nothing will be kept pending. This is my guarantee,” he confirmed and added that a “Public Service Guarantee Act” was promulgated and “Lok Seva Kendras” were opened to ensure that all needs of the people were attended to and services were provided in a stipulated time. The offending officers, who would delay or would not do their jobs, would be punished with heavy fines. He said that to provide enough trained and skilled manpower, all the industrial training institutions in the state were being modernized and more such engineering institutions were being opened.
Regarding water supply, he said that the state was making full efforts to use the Narmada water. In the next few months the four arid districts of the state would be provided the Narmada water.
Regarding tourism development, he said that as Madhya Pradesh was endowed with several historical places and temples, the department of tourism had taken special efforts to boost tourism. To help poor people of his state to visit tourist places or pilgrim centers, a special scheme has been chalked out. Under the scheme, the poor people would be given travel funds. Even those people, who would not be able to travel on their own, they would be given an aide. “Some 17 pilgrim centers have been identified in the country and a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Indian Railways to provide fare and travel facilities for the poor people of the state,” he added.
As a measure of giving equal rights to women to participate in decision-making and administration of the state, a legislation was brought in to give 50 percent reservation for women for all the elected positions from the village level to the state level.
Claiming that his administration was corruption-free, he said the state functioned as transparent as possible. Special courts were set up to speedily administer justice in all cases of corruption and other complaints.
He said that once known notoriously as a “dacoit-infested state” was now a peaceful and progressive state with all those hardcore dacoits were either reformed or were placed behind bars.
Stating that he was a spiritual person and not a politician, he said: “Madhya Pradesh is my temple and I am its priest. I want my state to be number one in India, and I want my India to be number one in the world soon.”
Profusely paying tributes to Swami Vivekananda, who visited the US and Chicago over 100 years ago and who had a tremendous influence on him since his youth years, Shivraj Singh Chauhan said that India and the US were two leading democracies. They both shared several common values. “You, as immigrant Indians, have made India proud. You all have been doing well. Wherever you migrate, it is your duty to first serve that country and then help your motherland. I am creating a special cell in my administration to help visiting Non-Resident Indians and investors,” he announced.
Dr. Bharat Barai conducted an interesting question-answer session, when the Chief Minister answered several questions posed by the audience.
Earlier, Amrit Mittal introduced to the audience Shivraj Singh Chauhan as an active volunteer of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh since his younger days. He was even arrested during the Emergency and his whereabouts were not known for two months. He was an MA in philosophy with a gold medal. Shrinarayan Chandak welcomed the Chief Minister and the gathering.
The program was well organized among others by Dr. Bharat Barai, Sridhar Damle, coordinator of FISI, and Amar Upadhyaya of OFBJP.
Vandana Jhingan of TV Asia, who was the emcee, proposed a vote of thanks.
During the day, the Chief Minister, accompanied by his wife, and his officials, visited the Chicago Art Institute, and paid his respects to Swami Vivekananda.