ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Andhra Pradesh: Looking beyond Vision 2020

Where landlessness and exploitative informal tenancy relationships are the major causes of acute rural poverty and where the bureaucracy has a proven track-record of not reaching the lowest layers of the poor, without land reforms and empowerment of panchayats the best intentions of the Andhra Pradesh government will not give the desired results, leading to enormous investment in the rural sector yielding sub-optimal social returns.

Vision-2020 published by the government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP) in January 1999 is a document of a dream – a dream dreamt by a hardheaded, hi-tech buff and down-to-earth politician, the chief minister of the state. One cannot ignore it nor dismiss it. It contains in cold print, inter alia, the promise of making Andhra Pradesh (AP) fully literate by 2010 and eradicate poverty by 2020. It sets the standard and the yardstick by which the GoAP would be judged and/or severely criticised for its failure to achieve the goals it has set for itself of its own will. The chief minister is conscious of “possible criticism that these [goals] are unrealistic”, but pinning his faith in modern technology he assures himself and the people of AP that he would “telescope into one generation what it took decades and possibly centuries, for other societies and other countries to achieve”. A tall claim undoubtedly, but he has the political courage to put his and his party’s head on the chopping block. That is something one has to admire, even if grudgingly. Among other matters the document promises empowerment of women, full gainful employment, environmental protection, making the government simple, transparent, accountable and responsive, ensuring for its people a strong voice in the governance of the state.

It is a well-produced document which bears the indelible imprint of the consultants’ ideological overtones. The document states, for example, “experience all over the world has shown that private sector, operating in a competitive situation, is better able than governments to provide efficient, rationally priced and high quality services in many areas” (p 19). Undoubtedly, it is a highly value-loaded statement containing a good deal of untruth. Nowhere in the world did the private sector provide free compulsory elementary education or eliminate endemic communicable diseases through free preventive public health measure.

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