Tamil Nadu is not new to the politics of attrition. Now, even the subject of the State getting the top slot in a nation-wide study on good governance has not been spared from the political discourse.
While the ruling AIADMK was quick to take credit for the distinction that the State had achieved in the Good Governance Index (GGI), the Opposition DMK questioned the credentials of the study and suspected that it was a “favour” the BJP-led Union government had done for its ally for having been “subservient” to it.
It all started with the Central government making an announcement in New Delhi on December 25 — observed as Good Governance Day— that Tamil Nadu had bagged the top spot in the composite ranking for the GGI. Apart from getting an overall score of 5.62, the State led the pack in two out of nine sectors – public infrastructure & utilities and judiciary & public security.
Politically, the announcement was viewed in two different ways in the State. For the AIADMK, the timing of the announcement could not have been better, as it came exactly two days before the first phase of polling in the rural local bodies, which saw elections after a gap of eight years. Though the development may not carry much meaning for many sections of voters in village panchayats or panchayat unions, it had come in handy for the ruling party as something to flaunt.
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami called it a “moment of pride”.
The DMK was left wondering how the Central government had chosen Tamil Nadu as the leading State in the GGI, when its performance was “not that impressive”. Referring to incidents like the Pollachi serial sexual assault case and the killing of protesters during the anti-Sterlite agitation, DMK president M.K. Stalin expressed puzzlement over the State getting the top rank in the field of judiciary & public security.
Scope for improvement
Going beyond the political discourse, experts in governance point out that no State other than Tamil Nadu had secured the first rank in two or more sectors. T.N. may have got the 14th rank in the area of commerce and industries because the indicator of “ease of doing business” was given a disproportionate share in the overall marking system while its strength in terms of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises was largely ignored.
At the same, experts point out that Tamil Nadu has scope for improvement. It must do more in the field of process-based indicators if it wants to sustain its present status. Also, the State should take a cue from the best practices of Israel, Australia and the Scandinavian countries in the areas of water management, energy conservation and renewable energy.
Besides, while making efforts to refine its ability to function on “auto pilot” mode, the State bureaucracy should provide enough space for experiments to be carried out at the lower and middle levels.
Only through a combination of measures will Tamil Nadu be able to maintain the “numero uno” position.