Kalyana Karnataka: Welfare needs a roadmap

Kalyana Karnataka

On September 17, on the occasion of the commemoration of Hyderabad-Karnataka Liberation Day, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa announced the change in the name of Hyderabad-Karnataka region to Kalyana Karnataka.

He stated that the renaming of the region is a tribute to the 12th-century social reformers like Basavanna. Here, the word Kalyana means welfare. The CM said: “I hope Kalyana Karnataka (KK), which denotes the history of great humanists, will usher in a new chapter of welfare and development in the region”.

In this context, it is necessary to look into the status of human development in the region and lay a roadmap for its progress.

The region consists of six districts, namely Ballari, Bidar, Kalaburagi, Koppal, Raichur and Yadgir, with 40 assembly constituencies. Out of the 39 most backward taluks, 26 are in the northern part. Out of the 31 taluks in the Kalyana Karnataka region, 28 are backward, 21 of them are most backward. Historically, the development process in this region has not reached the extent of the development of other regions in the state.

The socio-economic status of the region gives a dismal picture of people’s lives. As per the Karnataka Economic Survey, 2015-16 and District Human Development Reports of 2014, the Human Development Indicators (HDI) of the six districts in the region along with scores and ranks are as follows: Ballari (0.354,25), Bidar (0.430,19), Kalaburagi (0.407,20), Koppal (0 0.280,28), Raichur (0.165,30) and Yadgir (0.196, 29).

The HDI for the Karnataka state was 0.508 in 2011. The average HDI of the Kalyana Karnataka region is 0.30 which is way less than the state’s average. The per capita income of the Kalaburagi region is Rs 81,581 as per the district incomes derived in 2015-16.

Bengaluru has a per capita income of Rs 2.02 lakh, Mysuru has Rs 1.46 lakh and Belagavi has Rs 93,942. Comparatively, the per capita income of the Kalaburagi region is lowest among all the regions of the state and is less than half of the per capita income of the Bengaluru region.

As per the Tendulkar Committee report of 2009, the poverty rate in percentages of the six districts in the Kalyana Karnataka region is as follows: Ballari - 23.6, Bidar -30.8, Kalaburagi - 30.5, Koppal - 28.3, Raichur - 30.5 and Yadgir - 38.

The region consists of a high percentage of the population of scheduled caste/scheduled tribes (SC/STs) and minorities. SC/STs together constitute 31.87%, which is higher than the state average (22.75) and other regions. As far as the minority population is concerned, the KK region has 22.76% against the state average of 12.4%.

Children and women are worst-affected by the high poverty rate in the region. The Koppal, Raichur and Yadgir districts have the most number of severely malnourished children. Half of the school dropouts are from this region in the state. The maternal mortality rate is 126 with an infant mortality rate of 21 during 2008-09.

The KK region has only 2.2% of formally trained youth as against the 52% of the southern region. Only 5.45% have representation in the secretariat from the region with 10% heads of departments in the state services.

At this juncture, the CM’s announcements made on September 17 assume great significance. It is heartening to note that a separate secretariat will be created along with an increase in budgetary allocations to the Kalyana Karnataka Regional Development Board (KKRDB).

The question is, why in spite of these initiatives the development in the region is slow and non-inclusive. It is important to note that the budget allocations are made for the better off districts than the backward ones, which results in the non-inclusiveness of the budget expenditure.

The proposed National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) and the land acquisition for the same have not received the financial allocations in the 2019-20 budget. The physical and financial progress of the approved development works through KKRDB of the financial years of 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 shows a mismatch between the actual allocations and the real expenditure patterns.

Filling vacancies

The slow implementation of the development initiatives can be attributed to (i) inadequate staff (ii) weak institutional capacities. The issues in the effective implementation of the provisions of Article 371 (J) need immediate attention to fasten the development process and to assuage the rising statehood demand for the region.

The vacant positions in the revenue department and rural development and panchayat raj department are highest in the KK region compared to that of other regions. RDPR department has more than 10,000 vacant positions. Among these, Group-C and Group-D vacancies are more, followed by Group-B and Group-A.

The government should fill these vacancies on a regular basis through a transparent selection process, training and capacity building programs. The state’s development programmes need to be owned by the local governments for better outcomes.

The state government must issue a notification for the constitution of the implementation committees at the respective village, taluk and district panchayats in ensuring the timely completion of development works.

Interestingly, although the District Planning Committees (DPCs) were constituted in all the 30 districts at least in principle, in terms of preparing a comprehensive district development plan (DDP) the functionality of DPCs is not satisfactory. The government must show political will and administrative efficiency to deliver the welfare of the Kalyana Karnataka region through people’s participation in the development process.

(The writer is PhD Fellow, Centre for Political Institutions, Governance and Development, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bengaluru)

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