You have been re-elected as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh twice with strong majorities. To what do you attribute this success?
A: I attribute my electoral victories to the people’s unflinching faith and trust that my government has won by successfully putting Madhya Pradesh on a new growth trajectory, ridding it of the Bimaru tag. We have introduced some out-of-the-box initiatives to provide a participatory rather than a representative government. We ensured that the fruits of all development and welfare schemes and programmes reach those for whom they are meant.
During the previous regime over a decade ago, the people of the state had developed a sense of resignation and had lost all hopes for improvement. Taking it as a challenge, our government took well contemplated measures to restore the people’s faith in the system pulling the state out of stasis. We delivered on our poll promises belying the general perception that poll promises are made glibly to win elections. For example, we have ensured a 24x7 power supply in the state. A decade ago, it was quite an impossible leap that the state could be free of power outages. Now power cuts are history.
Q. MP has the largest Scheduled Tribe (ST) population in India. What has your government done for their progress?
A. I have ensured the socio-economic and educational betterment of the ST population besides taking effective measures to help them lead a dignified life. My government is spending 21% of the state’s budget for this in proportion to the state’s tribal population. My resolve is to ensure that no forest dweller is denied the right to forest land. So far, over two lakh land title letters have been provided and now the beneficiaries are being provided other facilities to help them practice farming. Our efforts to promote education among the tribals have stared bearing fruits. The students in tribal areas are provided with better facilities to study science and contemporary subjects. Success of these efforts can be gauged by the fact that eight students of government schools run by Tribal Development Department have succeeded in the advance test of JEE this year. As many as 135 students from these schools cracked the JEE mains. Also, 14 tribal students cleared the CLAT and took admission in different national law institutes.
Now my government has decided to reimburse the entire fee of the tribal students getting admission in prestigious institutions which would be over and above the post-matric scholarship. A total of 246 computer labs with internet facilities are being set up at residential institutions in tribal areas.
Q. Another concern area for the state has been the basic health indicators. MP has consistently had the nation’s highest infant mortality rate (IMR) and more than half its children are malnourished. What measures is the government taking to address those shortcomings?
A: I share your concern; however I would like to inform you that things are looking up in the health sector in the state. The state has registered a considerable fall in MMR. A significant decline has also been recorded in the neonatal death rate. IMR has also been reduced. The problem of malnutrition has been duly addressed as a result of which the condition has considerably improved. 314 nutrition rehabilitation centres are being educated in the state where the management conforms to WHO norms. We have launched a Suposhan Abhiyan. From 15 July this year we have started the distribution of milk in primary schools and anganwadis, benefiting over 74 lakh children. Thus, we have performed considerably well towards eradicating malnutrition and there are ongoing efforts to fully eliminate it.
Q. Are you taking any measures to improve the ease of doing business? How successful was the investor’s meet that was held a few months back? Are there any friends of Madhya Pradesh in the US?
A. You must be aware that Madhya Pradesh has recently been ranked fifth in the list of states in terms of ease of doing business by the World Bank. The state will be made the number one state in terms of ease of doing business. Rules, laws and processes in the state will be simplified to boost industry. Unnecessary permissions will be abolished. We are ahead of all the big states in terms of growth rate. Increase in per capita income is the highest in MP. The state has performed outstandingly in the agriculture sector. Its agriculture growth rate is highest not only in the country, but the world. Now, attention is being paid to increase the investment in industries along with agriculture. A single-door policy has been implemented for industries in the state. Processes have been simplified and labour laws improved. Self-declaration facility has also been introduced in the state. Despite these efforts, there is still scope for improvement.
The rate of conversion of MOU’s into implementation has been more than 50% in the state, which is excellent by all standards. Of the MOU’s worth 2 lakh crores, investment of over Rs.1.15 lakh crore has already been made. Since the Global Investors’ Summit-2014, 24 major industrial units have gone into production with a capital investment of Rs 20,000 crore providing direct employment to about 50,000 people. My government has come up with a number of sector specific industry and investor friendly policies and schemes offering attractive concessions and facilities. We are upgrading and developing the existent industrial areas at a cost of Rs 500 crore. To facilitate the Indian diaspora in different countries to play a more active role in development of Madhya Pradesh we have set up a separate Pravasi Bhartiya department.
Q. You recently met Mukesh Ambani and Anand Mahindra. What was the main agenda of the meetings? How do you foresee Japanese and Korean Companies investing in Madhya Pradesh in the near future?
A. I invited Shri Mukesh Ambani to provide technical assistance in the Smart Village initiative of the Madhya Pradesh government and also to launch 4G broadband Internet in the state. He agreed. Shri Ambani is interested in giving the Reliance brand name to small entrepreneurs and to make them economically stronger. I apprised Shri Anand Mahendra about the results of river linking in the state. Shri Mahendra expressed strong interest in expanding the two-vehicle industry in the state. He also discussed prospects of export of fruit products through his company. He will also make available low interest housing loan for the poor. I look forward to huge investments from the Japanese and Korean companies in Indore and Ujjain under the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
Q. Your government has achieved great success with your crop insurance scheme that has helped deliver double digit growth in the sector. The Centre is now considering following the MP model. How do you plan to build on this growth and further strengthen agriculture in the state?
A. The existing crop insurance policy is not so farmers-friendly and is tilted in favor of insurance companies. We have drafted a new policy and forwarded it to the Centre. The new policy seeks to provide far greater relief and assistance to the calamity affected farmers and ensures assured income to the farmers.
We are continuing our efforts to further boost the farm sector by diversifying agriculture, promoting use of new farm techniques and implements. We have given a fillip to horticulture, floriculture and cultivation of other cash crops that would fetch more remunerative returns. We have recently decided to provide 10% loan subsidy to farmers on loans obtained for seeds and fertilisers.