Karnataka: Backward areas lack human development push

  • Karnataka spent nearly Rs 30,000 crore on backward taluks based on the D M Nanjundappa Committee’s report. Only 12.5 per cent of this money went towards human development, a startling epilogue to a 15-year-old effort that has ended.
  • Last week, the Cabinet decided to replace backwardness indicators evolved by the Nanjundappa Committee with those used by the Niti Aayog for a new Aspirational Taluks Scheme.
  • Between 2007 and 2021, under the special development plan (SDP), Karnataka pumped in Rs 29,422 crore to 114 taluks identified as backward by the Nanjundappa Committee.
  • “Only 12.5 per cent of the allocation was provided for human resource development,” states the Cabinet note on the new scheme accessed by DH. This includes education (5.8 per cent), health (5 per cent) and women & child development (1.6 per cent).
  • Three-fifths, or 60 per cent, of the total SDP allocation went to five infrastructure departments — water resources (19 per cent), rural development (17 per cent), housing (11 per cent), public works (7 per cent) and energy (6 per cent).
  • This disparity in allocation led to “inequality” in human development, the note says. “…the human development index (HDI) in 112 taluks out of 114 backward taluks was less than the state average of 0.611. Only Anekal and Kalaburagi had shown improvement,” it states.
  • Economist Narendar Pani said the Nanjundappa Committee had “a fairly detailed set” of indicators. “That the SDP didn’t work is a valid argument. But I don’t agree that we need a new set of indicators. We need a strategy and ask why the SDP didn’t work,” he said.
  • Pani said Nanjundappa’s perception was to remove backwardness through overall development. “Yes, human development must be spent on. But the idea was to change the nature of the economy of the (backward) region,” he said.
  • In its 2002 report, the Nanjundappa Committee used 35 indicators under Agriculture & Allied Sectors, Trade Business & Finance, Economic Infrastructure, Social Infrastructure and Demographic Characteristics to identify 114 backward taluks. This will be replaced by 49 indicators of the Niti Aayog. Starting 2023-24, Rs 3,000 crore will be provided to taluks that are below the state average on these 49 indicators.
  • The government has also proposed quarterly performance-based cash incentives for aspirational taluks whose progress will be monitored every month — Rs 12.5 lakh to the first rank, Rs 10 lakh for the second and Rs 7.5 lakh to the third.
  • Former ISEC director M G Chandrakanth welcomed the adoption of new indicators. “Given that India is an infrastructure-poor nation, it is good that the focus was more on infrastructure. But much has changed since Nanjundappa’s time,” he said.


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