26 April 2018

Newsbreakers

COMEBACK KID

For a Chief Minister who in the mid-nineties was the first to offer lessons to the country on governing a state like a CEO – many called him India’s only politician with a 21st Century vision – Nara Chandrababu Naidu sadly ended up in the dustbowl of Andhra politics for a long time, but only to rise from the ashes like a phoenix after the 2014 elections as chief minister of a redrawn Andhra Pradesh. As is his wont, Naidu, who earned encomiums from the likes of Bill Gates for catapulting Hyderabad into the hi-tech league, has now a well crafted development agenda on his mind which is all inclusive – mindful of the constituency he lost in 2004, he is pushing for waiver of farmer loans to the extent of `54,000 crore – as he pushes New Delhi for a Special Category State Status. A tough negotiator Naidu will be raising critical issues like relaxation of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, provision of relief from repayment of Government of India loans, financial assistance for building the new capital city, key infrastructure projects and national institutions. As a strategic ally of the BJP-led NDA government, he will be stressing for the need to create a level-playing field for growth and development of Andhra Pradesh besides lobbying for immediate commencement of infrastructure projects like the Polvaram irrigation project and the setting up of various institutions like IIT, IIM, AIIMS in the state. Just to give a sense of what lies in store for the state you just need to look at how the rest of the progressive world once viewed him: The former Governor of Illinois proclaimed a Naidu Day in the Andhra politician’s honour; Naidu once chaired the National IT Panel under the NDA government and was described as one of the "hidden seven" working wonders around the world, by Oracle Corporation’s magazine Profit; he has won membership in the World Economic Forum’s Dream Cabinet. And already days after Chandrababugaaru was sworn in as Andhra Pradesh Chief Ministers bureaucrats have started reporting to work at nine in the morning for a day that knows no end.

 

 

INFRA BIG

Nasty digs from political enemies about his physical size aside, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari seems to be in a hurry to show to the nation that he is a quick mover at the workplace. While the UPA II had set a target of 20 km of roads to be completed every day, the politician from Nagpur has planned even more ambitious goals. He has claimed to take highway construction to 30 km per day in two years from now through a host of measures including revival of projects worth Rs 60,000 crore which are stuck for various reasons. Gadkari has an excellent track record in terms of delivery of infrastructure – this includes the Mumbai Pune Expressway – during his tenure as minister in his home state of Maharashtra – and has instructed the National Highways Authority of India officials to take immediate remedial measures at about 450 identified 'black spots' that are accident-prone to prevent loss of life. An indefatible worker, Gadkari, who also holds the shipping, rural development, panchayati raj and drinking water and sanitation portfolios, will also  head a group that will review the progress of the civil aviation and railway ministries, along with roads and ports, on a monthly basis. Just for the record: the minister recently reviewed over 55 projects covering over 15,000 km across the country in two days while announcing the setting up of a special corporation to undertake road projects in the Northeastern states. With a doer at the helm of road affairs the Indian elephant should not find it very difficult to match the strides of the Chinese dragon.

 




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