The sluggish Bureaucracy and the government in Rajasthan are missing opportunities and failing to attract investments and generate jobs. It’s time they woke up and addressed the needs of the people.

By Anil Sharma

Worldwide disruptions caused by the spread of Covid-19 is leading to a paradigm shift in the way one leads his or her life, do business, way one works or communicate with people among others.
Disruptive events do hold the power to transform with long-lasting consequences. One such variable of change that is garnering attention is the possibility of India emerging as a global manufacturing hub as it now has a never-before window of opportunity with many countries “encouraging”, requesting or asking their companies to shift their manufacturing bases out of China.

In these circumstances, States in India are now competing with each other to attract FDI especially from Japan, US, South Korea and other countries.

Where is Rajasthan in all this? The state that boasts of the first dedicated country-specific zone for Japan in Neemrana in Alwar district of Rajasthan is now finding attracting investment very difficult. Why?

Mainly because the state does not have any concrete steps on the horizon. Can the bureaucracy really pull it off in Rajasthan? Will it be able to go all out, lay the red carpet, woo companies and convince them to set up base in Rajasthan especially when the fight is tough among states to attract investment?

Really, a sad and gloomy scenario in Rajasthan. The bureaucracy in the desert state does not seem to have any specific plan or moves to attract investment on the contrary the bureaucrats seem to be in a state of deep slumber.

Except for signing of few of memorandum of understandings (MoU) worth few thousand crores, Rajasthan government has not been able to attract much investment in the last couple of years. Why is that? It is mainly because of lack of marketing and branding of the state. Maharashtra, UP and few other states have been able to do it in a much better way and have been able to attract investment.

A prerequisite in attracting investment is good governance encompassing the proper functioning of rules and institutions that create the framework for the conduct of both public and private business.

To make things worse, not so old ranking across various recent indices present a dismal picture for the state.

The SKOCH State of Governance Index ,2019 shows the state slipped to 12th position from the fourth rank in 2018. It ranked first in 2017. The latest annual SKOCH State of Governance ranking is based on independent study and evaluation of programmes and projects at different levels of governance. The focus on primary data and grassroots level interventions make it unique. Apart from presenting a comparative picture of states, SKOCH State of Governance study also gives a comprehensive sector-wise analysis.

The Index takes 10 sectors into consideration: agriculture and allied, commerce & industries, human resource development, public health, public infrastructure & utilities, economic governance, social welfare & development, judicial & public security, environment and citizen-centric governance.

The overall rank was poor even though it ranked 1st in irrigation, 3rd in education, 2nd in skill development, 1st in women and child development and 4th in sanitation.

Even in unemployment, Rajasthan has been performing badly. If one looks at recent CMIE report on unemployment Rajasthan has a awful distinction of being in top states in unemployment rate.

All this is coming at a time when Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot has been ranked among the top ten Chief Minsters in the country in the latest C Voter survey in June 2020 on the basis of satisfaction rank of the respondents. A visionary leader remains a popular mass leader and enjoys a high approval rating. His handling of the recent Covid-19 crisis has also earned him an all-round appreciation.

A popular leader whose State ranks poorly on governance apparently shows that he heads a bureaucracy that is letting him down.

So unless a sluggish approach by the bureaucracy is controlled, Rajasthan may just deep dive to the bottom with a steep vertical fall across indices on governance and other important development parameters.

Jago…wake up Rajasthan, it is very competitive out there. Bureaucracy especially those handling industry and finance have to be much more proactive, give red carpet welcome with customised packages to attract investment.